The Living and the Dead by Jason

Categories:  Reviews

The Living and the Dead
By Jason
Fantagraphics

JasonAnother day, another Jason book. Naturally, there are far worse fates in the world than reading the Norwegian artist’s work on a regular basis. Not only does his ever-enlarging oeuvre stand with some of the finest work of his contemporaries, each subsequent book explores a new direction in his deceptively minimalist world, a direction that is never fully clear until you’ve turned the last page.

The Living and the Dead, like much of his most exciting work, finds the cartoonist indulging as many of his obsessions as will fit into a pint-sized graphic novel. Jason revisits the world of dead-end jobs, sexual frustration, and the undead, while once again returning to the format of the silent film, in order to tell his tale. What little text there is in The Living and the Dead is relegated to single-panel intertitles, which are soon abandoned altogether, once the story picks up enough steam to coherently tell itself, visually.

In spite of what might naturally be construed as divergent plot points, The Living and the Dead succeeds as a far tighter story than the recently-reviewed The Left Bank Gang. Prostitutes, shitty jobs, blood thirsty zombies—by the end, all of the pieces fit neatly in place, an achievement that has as much to do with Jason’s skill as a storyteller, as it does with the ultimate dose of earnest humanity that he is able to bestow upon his undead subjects. The terror is never too terrible and the humor is as consistently subtle as the quiet characters he creates.

If there’s a major complaint to be lodged against The Living and the Dead, it’s the fact that book is easily read in under ten minutes, thanks to its sub-50 page length, and the general lack of text throughout. Fortunately for us, though, the next Jason book is never too far behind.

–Brian Heater

No Comments to “The Living and the Dead by Jason”

  1. Kevin Huxford | March 7th, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    I don’t know. I think THE LEFT BANK GANG was far superior to this story and was equally divergent. I didn’t pick up quite the same feel for the “dead end job” aspect of the first half as you did. I only could really feel the attraction the fella had to the second prostitute and subsequent saving up of funds. That the attraction sets them up to be on the run from zombies together is about as tight as “The Lost Generation turned graphic novelists” lack of financial success leads them to rob a bank wound up being.

    I felt like THE LEFT BANK GANG was a much more enjoyable read…but I still like anything by Jason.

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