Gentleman Jim

Overview

A graphic novel classic from one of the world’s best-known cartoonists

Gentleman Jim is the story of Jim Bloggs, an imaginative toilet cleaner who, dissatisfied with his station in life, devotes his time to envisioning a world beyond it. His walls are lined with books like Out in the Silver West, The Boys’ Book of Pirates, and Executive Opportunities, which provide fodder for his ruminations on career change. Encouraged by his wife, who is also eager to incorporate more ...

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Overview

A graphic novel classic from one of the world’s best-known cartoonists

Gentleman Jim is the story of Jim Bloggs, an imaginative toilet cleaner who, dissatisfied with his station in life, devotes his time to envisioning a world beyond it. His walls are lined with books like Out in the Silver West, The Boys’ Book of Pirates, and Executive Opportunities, which provide fodder for his ruminations on career change. Encouraged by his wife, who is also eager to incorporate more adventure into her life, Jim sets out to bring these dreams to fruition by accumulating various accoutrements, only to discover that the life of an executive, an artist, or a cowboy is more complicated and costly than it appears.

Jim’s childlike understanding of the world that surrounds him is enhanced by Raymond Briggs’s subtle and inventive illustrations. Fantasies are portrayed as organic clouds that move between and overlap outlined panels of his reality, and myopic Jim is drawn smaller and softer than the policemen and bureaucrats interested in impeding his search for adventure. As he begins to infringe more seriously on the law, the city workers and their speech boxes become increasingly angular, much like the rigid rules and regulations restricting his sincere quest. With this playful style, Briggs expertly transforms common feelings of inadequacy into an endearing and enjoyable experience that speaks across generations, concluding with an optimistic implication that even a misfortunate outcome can be better than no change at all.

This classic novel, originally published in 1980, is presented by Drawn & Quarterly in a new edition.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Kathy Starks
The graphic novel format has found its way into mainstream literature, appearing on bestseller lists, winning important awards, and animatedly discussed in classrooms. The origins of the graphic novel are somewhat vague, but many consider the original version of this book printed in 1980 to be one of the first of its kind. Briggs's gentle, melancholy text and color-washed images are a far cry from the action-packed story lines of comic books. Bloggs has spent his entire career cleaning toilets and feels the need for a change. He looks in the newspaper, but every job that looks interesting to him requires more education. His interest in such diverse careers as artist or army commando takes him into flights of fancy where he imagines himself leading an exciting life. When he decides to actually take the steps to become a cowboy and then a highwayman, his nanve actions have repercussions on his future that are quite unexpected. In his introduction to the novel, cartoonist Seth, author of the Palookaville series, notes that the characters of Bloggs and his wife are based on Briggs's parents Jim and Hilda. Their quaint and old-fashioned outlook on life provides a unique viewpoint on the modern world. The language is full of idioms and terms unique to British culture, referring often to standardized tests known as "the Levels." Such references may be initially confusing to the American reader, but their intent is made clear by the emotions and actions implied by the gentle illustrations. Readers interested in the graphic novel as a genre will be charmed by the new edition of this seminal work. Reviewer: Kathy Starks
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

Jim Bloggs is a middle-aged toilet cleaner who dreams of a life filled with adventure. Influenced by his nightly reading of children's storybooks, he imagines himself as a pirate, a cowboy, and even a successful Renaissance painter-anything to help break the monotony of his daily life. While the storybook-inspired illustrations appear simple, Briggs makes skillful use of every element on the page; from layouts to the look of text boxes, everything functions to match and enhance the moods and themes of the tale. Jim's imagination is little more than a quaint eccentricity until it starts to bleed into his real life. His desire to become a highwayman prompts him to wear a dramatic cape and toy sword; he finally comes to the attention of the authorities when he illegally buys a donkey for a valiant steed and rides it around the city, looking for excitement. But his charming, childlike innocence wins in the end; when confronted with circumstances that could have been very sad, Jim's fertile mind manages to turn it into another triumph. This edition of a 1980 work includes an introduction by cartoonist Seth that explains how influential Briggs has been over the years. While the innocent-looking art might turn off readers looking for an edgier story, anyone picking up this title will be treated to a sweet, whimsical tale.-Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA

Kirkus Reviews
This slim volume, a reissue of a 1980 work, has seminal significance in the development of the graphic novel. British cartoonist Briggs's renown rests mainly with his work for children (Fungus the Bogeyman, 2005, etc.). This graphic novel is plainly aimed at adults in its illustrated tale of a toilet cleaner, Jim Bloggs, whose innocence and imagination land him in trouble, as he tries to conjure a richer future for himself and his wife. "Something a bit more exciting . . . more adventurous . . . something with more of a challenge," he daydreams as he scrubs and mops. "There's not much opportunity for self-advancement in toilets." So he begins daydreaming about being a war hero, or a famous painter, or an executive (whatever that is), before returning home to his wife, Hilda, who matches his innocence and hardly serves as a check on his imagination. She's ready to follow him to Texas, where he can be a cowboy and she'll find work as a bar floozy ("Ooh, that would be nice," says the middle-aged housewife. "I hope I'm not too old."), though neither of them seem to realize just how much it might cost to costume themselves properly, let alone afford the fare overseas to the American Southwest. Jim then decides to become a modern day Robin Hood, robbing from the rich to give to the poor, yet all he can afford are a toy sword, rubber boots and a donkey instead of a horse. Through a series of hilarious mishaps and misunderstandings, his life changes irrevocably, but not in the way that he'd planned. A short, sweet and meaningful volume.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781897299364
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 7/8/2008
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

International bestselling cartoonist/illustrator Raymond Briggs has been writing and drawing children’s books and graphic novels for more than forty years, including his best-loved books Father Christmas and The Snowman. An early pioneer of literary graphic novels with his brilliant satire on nuclear war, When the Wind Blows (1982), he is also well known in North America for his poignant depiction of the lives of his parents in Ethel & Ernest.

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