By Jason, translated by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-155-8 (HB/Digital edition)
In 1965, John Arne SaeterrÃ¸y, who creates under the pen-name Jason, was born in Molde, Norway. At age 30, he burst onto the international cartoonists scene with his first graphic novel Lomma full ay regn (Pocket Full of Rain) which won that yearâ€™s Sproing Award (Norwayâ€™s biggest comics prize).
Jason followed up with the series Mjau Mjau and won another Sproing in 2001. The following year he turned almost exclusively to produce graphic novels. He is now internationally renowned and (probably quite self-consciously) basks in the glow of critical acclaim for his 24 books to date and for winning so many major awards as far afield as France, Slovakia, the USA and all areas in-between.
His stories utilise a small cast of anthropomorphic animal characters (and occasional movie and pop culture monsters): a repertory company of cartoon colleagues, acting out on a stage of stiffly formal page layouts recounting dark, wry and sardonically bleak tales – often pastiches, if not outright parodies – in a visually welcoming yet coldly austere and Spartan narrative manner. This seemingly oppressive format somehow allows a vast range of emotionally telling tales – on a wide spectrum of themes and genres – to hit home like rockets whether the authorâ€™s intention was to make the reader smile or cry like a baby.
Drawing in a minimalist evolution of HergÃ©â€™s Claire Ligne style, Jasonâ€™s work bores right into the readerâ€™s core, and this movie-themed collection of short tales is arguably his best work.
Redolent of quintessential Film Noir and especially the hard-boiled writing of Jim Thompson, poignant tale of vengeance â€˜Emily Says Helloâ€™ precedes what is billed as the Worldâ€™s â€œfirst and only Chess Westernâ€.
The eponymous â€˜Low Moonâ€™ was originally serialized in The New York Times Sunday Magazine in 2008: a splendidly surreal spoof of Fred Zinnemannâ€™s 1952 classic High Noon wherein an old menace returns to terrorise the townâ€¦ until at last the Sheriff capitulates to the incessant demands for one final return matchâ€¦
â€˜&â€™ is a tragic anecdote of love, loss and marital persistence related in terms and stylings of Hal Roachâ€™s silent comedies. â€˜Proto Film Noirâ€™ owes an inspirational tip of the thermally insulated hat to Tay Garnettâ€™s The Postman Always Rings Twice (the 1946 version with John Garfield and Lana Turner) – by way of The Flintstones and Groundhog Day, whilst a concluding tale of love, family and abandonment assumes science-fictional trappings to relate the soap-opera, generational tale of a mother kidnapped by aliens and the effects it inflicts on the husband and son she left behind. â€˜You Are Hereâ€™ is bemusing, evocative and moving, yet manages to never fall off the narrative tightrope into mawkishness or buffoonery.
Jasonâ€™s comic tales are strictly for adults but allow us all to look at the world through wide-open childish eyes. He is a taste instantly acquired and a creator any true fan of the medium should move to the top of the â€œMust-Haveâ€ list. This superb compendium could be your entry into a brave, old world, so get it while you can because stuff this good never lasts longâ€¦
Â© 2009 Jason. All right reserved.