GENTLEMAN JIM by Raymond Briggs

GENTLEMAN JIM

KIRKUS REVIEW

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.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-897299-36-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2008