söndag 19 juni 2011

Jason: You Can't Get There From Here

Norwegian comics artist John Arne Saeteröy is more known under his pen name Jason... Although I guess he's probably not particularly well known at all, outside a certain subset of comics readers. Anyway, he's got a reputation (among the cognoscenti) for excellent stories in a clean style, stories that frequently aren't entirely easy to interpret – the reader not infrequently doesn't get all the info needed to be certain about exactly what happened.

Me, I'm a fan of elegant art, and Jason's art, with its somewhat stiff figures (due to him making that choice, not lack of drawing skill, as far as I can discern), isn't really elegant IMO... but he tells a good story. In You Can't Get There From Here (or, in Swedish, Du går fel väg) that particular story happens to be the classic story of Frankenstein, albeit in a typically Jasonish manner.

Here, the story is told from the perspective of everyone but Dr. Frankenstein himself. It starts with his hunchbacked assistant – in a lab coat – digging up a corpse and continues with the Monster shoplifting girlie magazines and acting a peeping Tom. Dr. Frankenstein confines him to his teenager room (complete with X-Files posters) and creates a female for him. The Monster first tries a... shall we say, direct approach to wooing her. That fails miserably, so he apologizes with flowers, and a relationship develops.

The unhappy Dr. Frankenstein becomes jealous of the Monster, and creates a new female for him, trying to take the original one for himself. But the monster has developed real feelings for his girlfriend, beats up Dr. Frankenstein, and escapes with her. Dr. Frankenstein then calls in the authorities...

There are two excellent story lines in this book. The first is the Frankenstein-Monster-Female monster love triangle – or rather, just "triangle", because nobody loves Dr. Frankenstein, a tragedy as great as any you'd ever experience – which doesn't end well at all. I won't give away the ending (and I can't, really, anyway, because part of it is so ambiguous that you really have to make your own interpretation of it), but the "monster" couple has to cope with being hunted not only by a hostile society, but also by the jealous Dr. Frankenstein. Eventually, they are separated when Dr. Frankenstein catches up with them, and the odds that they'll be reunited don't seem all that great.

Meanwhile, a second and more unexpected subplot centers on the doctor's hunchbacked assistant, who turns out to be merely one of a large number of colleagues, many of them unfortunately having come to untimely ends... He meets one of those colleagues at a café, and they have a talk about their terrible bosses and their terrible plans, and friends no longer among them, and his own lack of hope of ever finding happiness. It's touching, and a very clever revisionist perspective on the "mad scientist" genre. The assistant is usually the first to die, and he is never depicted in a particularly flattering – or even humanizing – light, so this new angle works very well.

All in all, Jason manages to tell a new story based on the old one – two new stories, in fact; very human ones, and very well told. Recommended.

(Here is a brief interview with Jason.)

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar