Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Tell Me Something

Jason was probably my favourite creator discovery last year. Yeah, he's hardly new, but I don't believe I'd read any of his works up until I Killed Adolf Hitler. Now I can't believe it took so long. Sure, maybe there were comics I liked more that came out last year, but I don't think I read as many consistantly good comics by a single creator.

Despite the quality of his comics, I think I will always remember Jason for another reason. For a while last year I worked in a comic book store. One day a guy came up to me and asked about I Killed Adolf Hitler. I told him that it was really good and that he should read it. He asked "what's it about? Does Hitler really get killed?" I responded in the positive and he replied that that was "lame" and asked if Hitler at least "got to kill some guys". I had no way to reply to that and just walked away from the conversation, completely confused and wondering what the deal with that guy was.

When you list the elements included in Jason's comics, they seem like they should be as confusing as that event, but they follow their own internal logic, that works perfectly.
His comics seem to happen in some weird version of Europe that has never actually existed. It lies somewhere between bittersweet black and while films, surrealism, and complete depravity and brutality. In this world everyone wears hats, nobody ever seems to end up happy, and hired killers are only ever a phone call. Oh and the hired killers, like everyone else, are anthropomorphic animals.

In Tell Me Someting, the comparisons to film are even more evident, as Jason chooses to tell the story almost entirely without dialogue. What little dialogue that does occur appears as "inter titles" full panels with nothing in them but the words a character is speaking, a technique used in old silent films. Yet so masterful is Jason's art that characters are fleshed out, and we know their motivations and flaws despite them never saying a word.

To help tell the story, which frequently jumps back and forwards through time, Jason uses a form of artistic shorthand I've only noticed before in Japanese comics: using black borders around pages to signify something is a flashback. I'm not saying that only Japanese comics have used these (clearly they haven't, as Jason isn't from Japan), but that's the only place I've noticed it. Here Jason ues the technique incredibly effectively, for a story that is being told with as little dialogue as possible, captions saying "five years ago" would kind of pull you out of the mood, and even if you have no idea what's going on at first, you'd soon be able to figure it out.

I wouldn't say that this was my favourite Jason comic, I think that's Last of the Musketeers, but it's an enjoyable, if sad (like pretty much all of Jason's work) story, and definitely worth checking out.


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