Drag Bandits was one of, oh hell I’m just going to say, IT WAS my favorite release of the week. That’s right, of all the books that released an 18th century Drag Queen bandit was my favorite. That is what the story is about, a man dressing up as a woman for the sole purpose of desire and robbing the rich. It’s simple, funny and oh so entertaining. Now I could be wrong about the era, the comic doesn’t exactly say, but it’s during a time in which men wore wigs and makeup just as much as women. Our main character Stephen just happens to like wearing a dress as well. The story kicks off with him holding up a rich dude by the name of Sir Charles Folwer Olgilvie. He… currently dress as a she if you forgot already, holds up Olgilvie and gives him the choice of his life or his money. Being a pompous rich dude Olgilvie picks death, but Stephen just robs him instead.
After Stephen gets away he heads home only to be discovered by his wife. Yes that’s right he’s in a loving relationship with a woman and she’s cool with it. She questions why he must use her best, sorry second best, riding habit but only because the color doesn’t suit him.
It’s the humor of the story that really hooked me. The jokes and the dialogue rarely focus on Stephen being in drag and when they do it’s never to look down on him. In fact the running gag is that his wife Louisa and their butler Jarvis already know about it. The supporting characters for this story are the best. Jarvis is very funny, but then so are Olgilvie’s goons that appear later. Even though you’d think Stephen would make you laugh he’s more of the straight man for the jokes as he sets up the other characters for humor. He still of course has his moments.
Another aspect of the story that shined was Stephen and Louisa’s relationship. When she reveals that she’s aware of Stephen’s night time habits her demeanor towards him doesn't change. Even more she ends up embracing them herself. In their short conversations it establishes a supportive and caring relationship that so many other comics struggle to get across.
Colleen Frakes art was another big reason that I enjoyed this story. I’m trying to think of the best way to describe the art. In a way it looks like simple line drawings, but the execution is skilled, realistic and detailed to an extent. Clearly Frakes knew that the black & white art would be easier to follow and have a better style by taking the less is more approach. Frakes character designs also play a role in the humor and success of the story as well.
It looks like this issue is a collection of shorter chapters that all factor into one big story that ends up being the completed issue. With that said I don’t know if there will be more Drag Bandits, but if the creators had more to offer with the characters I would be definitely be interested. If they don’t then I can be happy with this one complete tale of greatness.
Right now you can pick this book up on Comixology via the Submit program which is where I discovered it or you can pay a little more and get a print or digital copy from Retrofit Comics, we’ll link to both. Again I say this was my favorite comic of the week; it came out of nowhere and surprised me with its entertaining story and great sense of humor and it did it all with style!