Sunday, May 09, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 95 (5/9) -- You Can't Get There From Here by Jason

Another day, another mostly-wordless book from Jason -- this is another one that I read in the Almost Silent omnibus. It's the touching story of Frankenstein's Monster and His Bride (with the obligatory Elsa Lanchester lightning-stuck hairdo), with only one dialogue sequence -- and that takes place between Frankenstein's Igor and the Igor (identical in appearance) who works for a mad scientist trying to make a time machine (to kill Hitler, of course).

The big complication here is that Frankenstein falls in love with the Bride after he's created her for the Monster -- and she and the Monster have already fallen in love. Frankenstein, in his passive-aggressive mad-scientist way, reanimates another woman for the Monster and tries to take the Bride away -- which of course doesn't turn out well.

Jason's stories, though, are entirely about things not turning out well -- love, plans, work, life. Nobody ever gets what they want in a Jason story, though the deadpan affect of his characters, their wordless fatalism, and the pared-down strength of his line keeps them feeling light and fun, even when describing them turns into a litany of woe. I could be exaggerating slightly, though -- You Can't Get has an ending that might actually turn to happiness, some time later (unlike Tell Me Something, which shuts down all possibilities of hope before it ends). But it certainly doesn't look good for the Monster and the Bride here.

But perhaps that helps to explain why Jason uses horror-movie characters so often: we all know that things will never end well for the Monster, or the Wolfman, or the poor dazed normal people chased by Zombies. Their stories have been told a thousand times before -- almost always ending with their deaths. So any changes that Jason rings on those old, familiar stories -- any changes that give those frightful creatures any more happiness or joy along the way -- can only make his stories feel more cheerful and light. You Can't Get There from Here is one of the better Jason books; it has an inevitability to it, but it's not entirely bleak (even in outline form).
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
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