Steven Appleby’s ‘Dragman’ Wins Special Jury Prize At Angoulême

by Richard Bruton

Congratulations to Steven Appleby, one of Britain’s finest cartoonists, for picking up the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Angoulême Festival for his Dragman graphic novel.

The Angoulême Official Selection and Grand Prix are the highest honours in the comic book world, awarded to those books published in French from the year before.

This year the Festival itself has gone virtual, thank you Covid, but the main festival awards were handed out this week, with the exception of the Grand Prix award which will be announced this summer.

Steven Appleby‘s Dragman, his wonderful graphic novel all about a man whose superpowers appear every time he puts on his special sequinned dress, is this year’s Angoulême Grand Jury Prize winner, something that’s well deserved.

Appleby was, as you’d expect, rather pleased

Appleby’s work has been a mainstay here in Britain for decades now, with his cartoons appearing across the NME, Guardian, Observer, The Times, Punch, as well as having various collections of his work, including Captain Star, Alien Invasion, Normal Life, Guide To Life, and more.

The best description of his artistic style comes from Posy Simmonds, who called his line “brilliant, lively and knotty” and it’s something you’ll find all the way through Dragman, Appleby’s debut graphic novel.

In Dragman, Appleby gave us something slightly autobiographical that was both a thriller and a smart and funny pastiche of superheroes, managing to be funny and emotional, intensely moving and wonderfully personal as he told us the tale of August Crimp, loving husband and father who loves to wear women’s clothes. But the big difference for August is that when he puts on his women’s clothes he gets superpowers – and Dragman can fly through the skies looking wonderfully glamourous!

Influenced both by Appleby’s enjoyment of superhero comics in his teens and his own life as a transvestite, Dragman is forced out of retirement and needs to save both the world and his marriage in a wonderfully different sort of book, one that’s absolutely worthy of the recognition it’s just received from the judges at Angoulême.

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