Saturday, May 08, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 94 (5/8) -- Tell Me Something by Jason

Today's Book-A-Day is taken from the recent Jason omnibus Almost Silent, like yesterday's. For more on this strategy to creatively fulfill my Book-A-Day pledge, see my post on The Shrinking of Treehorn, from the original Book-A-Day run back in 2006-2007.

Tell Me Something is a pantomime graphic novella, or perhaps a set of storyboards for a nonexistent silent movie -- the only words in it are title cards during flashback sequences. (I say "novella," because it's also less than fifty pages long -- a short album even by European standards.) It's populated with the usual nameless Jason characters -- the girl, the bird-man, the dog-man, the poetry editor, the girl's father, a hard-eyed professional killer, and many bit parts and background folks. None of them have any more expression that can be given by having mouths open or closed, eyes looking up or down.

The bird-man was an aspiring poet when he met the girl -- some years ago, in the flashback sequences -- but her father disapproved, and engineered a breakup when he couldn't order his daughter away or scare off her suitor. In the present, she's with the dog-man, when a chance encounter between the bird-man and dog-man rekindles the bird-man's love for her. Jason tells the story backward and forward from the moment of their meeting, and runs to the inevitable end. (It's inevitable in the bleak world of Jason's cartoons -- remember that he's Norwegian, and be happy that this story doesn't have zombies or werewolves to eat everyone in the end.)

I find Jason's work more successful when it has a lighter touch -- the morbid inevitability of his stories needs some humor to leaven it, and Tell Me Something has very little lightness or humor in it. So it becomes a sad nearly-wordless noir story about some people and how none of them get what they want. Any Jason story is worth reading for his storytelling simplicity and narrative wit, but I'd recommend several things before Tell Me Something (including Meow, Baby!, which comes right before it in this edition).
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Now playing: Matthew Sweet - Thunderstorm
via FoxyTunes

No comments:

Post a Comment