Friday, December 30, 2016
But there are a few exceptions. Jason Lutes's first major graphic novel Jar of Fools is a notable one. It's full of losers.
Ernie Weiss is a failed magician and an alcoholic, haunted by his more successful and now-dead brother. Ernie's mentor Al Flosso is a once-successful magician, now going senile. Ernie's ex, Esther O'Dea is trapped in a dead-end coffee shop job. And then there's Nathan Lender, a small-time con man, and his young daughter Claire.
They're all in some minor city, somewhere in the late 20th century -- living in bad single-room apartments or battered old cars, grabbing a few bucks here and there, just holding on. They keep bumping into each other, bouncing off each other, as the story goes on. They're all broken, incomplete in some way -- but maybe, in the right combination, their missing pieces can help each other.
But not in a simple Hollywood way, and not all together -- Lutes is telling a quieter, more muted story, one where the hope is buried deep in the melancholy. The people you think should stay together, or remain together, won't.
Lutes tells this story with a precise, inky, illustrative line, full of dark blacks and crisply defined faces. He makes all of these characters, these losers, specific people -- ones you might pass on the street, and never notice. It's just up to you to pay attention to them.