Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #14: Lost Cat by Jason

You don't have to stare at a graphic novel by the Norwegian cartoonist Jason, but its characters will always stare at you. His blank-faced animal-men and -women never blink; their large, empty eyes are always exactly the same size, no matter what they're looking at. That's one of the markers of death in a Jason comic: closed eyes.

Their emotional reactions are equally dampened: the apocalypse could happen in a Jason book -- has happened, several times, in a number of Jason books, not excluding this one -- and people might run from it, to save themselves, but they don't scream or fall down or show anything other than mild surprise.

Lost Cat is a large, major Jason story, stretching to two hundred pages, but, as always, it's put together from off-the-shelf genre materials: the hardboiled detective, the mysterious femme fatale, the secret plot, the rich old man who wants one more thing before he dies. And, of course, the lost cat that sets the whole plot in motion.

As always with Jason, Lost Cat is driven equally by dialogue and by silences -- by panels of characters talking, usually inconsequentially, or of them doing things without narration. And those genre elements won't quite turn out the way you expect -- or there's one more genre reveal still to come to turn everything on its head.

So the detective finds a cat, and then searches for a lost woman. In parallel, he gets a case to find and retrieve a painting. Meanwhile, the world goes on -- as it does in a Jason story, which is not the way it ever does in the real world. The detective is perhaps not as sane or balanced as he appears -- but that's all right, since the world is equally deranged.

That counts for a happy ending in a Jason book, I suppose: that we are only as crazy as the world itself. It's not all that satisfying, but it's not really meant to be. This is a Jason book, about things lost and gone and irretrievable. Don't expect happy.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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