Herman by Trade: Chris W. Kim's debut graphic novel about an unexceptional street cleaner

in Inspiration / Illustration

Herman is a seemingly unexceptional street cleaner. His fellow workers regard him as dull and unambitious, but during the night he takes to the streets in secret and makes use of a remarkable hidden talent: an ability to transform his appearance at will. When cult film director Mio calls an open audition for roles in her next project, Herman is emboldened to perform. But his decision to join the queue that forms along the city’s waterfront has far reaching and irreversible consequences.

This is Herman by Trade, a captivating and cinematic debut graphic novel about art, identity and making room for self-expression – illustrated by Toronto-based artist Chris W. Kim who combines atmospheric, intricate pencil work with a compellingly offbeat story that blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.

"I like the films of Jacques Tati and Federico Fellini, and both have done documentary-style films about circuses (Parade and I Clowns, respectively) which I used for inspiration," explains Chris. "Also, Toronto has an annual busker festival which I go to sometimes. I always find it both lighthearted and incredibly chaotic. That was the initial impetus for using buskers/circus performers in the story."

A graduate of OCAD University in Toronto, Chris's clients include The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter, among others. He regularly posts illustrations and short stories at chriswkim.com. Herman by Trade is his first graphic novel.

Close