22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Steven Appleby

Portrait Steven Appleby
© Hartwig Klappert

Steven Appleby, born in 1956 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, is a British-Canadian comic artist, cartoonist, illustrator and visual artist known for his absurdist humour and gnarly expressive drawing style. He studied graphic design at Newcastle Polytechnic from 1978 to 1981 and illustration at the Royal College of Art in London from 1981 to 1984. His first projects after graduation included commissioned work, including book and record cover designs and merchandise, for example for the band Duran Duran. In 1987, Appleby’s cartoon »Rockets Passing Overhead – the Annals of Captain Star« first appeared in the »New Musical Express«. It was also printed in the magazine »Die Zeit« in the early 1990s, later adapted for an animated series, and broadcast internationally under the title »Captain Star« from 1997 to 1998, including in Germany. His cartoons have appeared in a variety of print publications, including »The Guardian«, »The Times«, and »The Observer«. In the early 2000s, »FAZ« published a German translation of his comic strip »Steve Appleby’s Normal Life« over a period of eight months. The newspaper described the piece as »a witty play with motifs from science, psychology and everyday life« (»FAZ«).

With over twenty publications to date, Appleby is extremely prolific. His works include: »Normal Sex« (1993), »Alien Invasion: Steven Applebyʼs Guide to Having Children« (1999), »Encyclopedia of Personal Problems« (2000), »The Little Book of Farts« (2006), and »The Coffee Table Book Of Doom« (2011). »Dragman« (2020) is Appleby’s most ambitious graphic novel to date. London is teeming with chauvinistic superheroes, and August Crimp, Appleby’s hero, has discovered that he can fly while wearing women’s clothes. Out of shame and fear of the consequences, he hides his true self; not even his wife knows. One day, hundreds of people watch as he rescues a young girl. His secret is revealed, and Crimp must fend off macho superheroes and a serial killer. Appleby tells his story with the help of long passages and interlaced flashbacks and knows how to lead the reader through his touching and funny superhero universe with great ease. The »FAZ« calls it »A stroke of genius.«

Appleby has been living as a trans woman since 2007 and continues to call himself Steve. His family has supported him from the beginning; unlike his protagonist, he has not had to hide. And so, he makes it clear in the afterword to »Dragman«: »I am not August Crimp.«