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06 September 2009 @ 08:51 pm
Low Moon  

Low Moon ~ by Jason.

The conceit behind the work of comics author Jason is that his work should be considered absurd or ridiculous by virtue of the fact that it employs anthropoid farm animals in place of human beings in his stories. Also the use of a deceivingly simplistic stylized art style leads the reader to digest his work as juvenile diversions. This stupefacient effect is confounded as the stories conclude with mature and sincere moments. To reiterate, Jason initiates his stories with a childlike sense of play and wonder, and concludes them with a sense of melancholy and solemnity.

Unlike previous books from Jason, Low Moon is a collection of five stories, rather than one self-contained story. While the stories are divergent in tone and length, they all deal with the same themes of death, desperation, and failure. Each story in written in a different genre, including murder mystery, noir, western, slapstick and science fiction. It’s interesting however, to look at that list and realize that each story could be assigned to more than one genre. For example, the story that lends its name to the compilation’s title is obviously a western, but since it’s also a screwball parody of the film High Moon, we can see that it belongs to more that one genre. This intermeshing of genres is another way of how Jason confounds the reader’s expectations to create an uneasy feeling of incertitude.

The book’s most interesting story comes in the form of the aptly titled &, which plays not only with the reader’s preconceived notions of the essence of comics, but also their notions of form. Jason tells two stories in &, the first involving a man who needs to steal money to pay for an operation that will save his mother’s life, and the second involving a man who murders the rival suitors of a woman he wishes to marry. One story is told on the verso sides of the pages, while the other is told on the rectos. The effect is that one story of the first story is followed directly by a page from the second, and the stories alternate pages until they intertwine and conclude. Thus the title, &; it’s one story & then another. The stories literally face off against one another, and the reader is left to judge the protagonists, whether one is justified, and the other a heel, or whether one tale is funny and the other grim, and so forth. These dichotomies define the story, balancing one another and conclude with a sense of unease and despair. I can’t recall another comic where this device of alternating pages was used, but it felt very natural. It’s nice to see an artist like Jason play with form, and use it effectively in a story to assist the narrative and make a comment on its theme.

As part of Jason’s larger body of work, the stories in Low Moon perpetuate the artist’s sense of melancholic desperation. The characters in these stories all share a sense of longing, and have all endured an episode of loss. The protagonists in Jason’s stories often seem plagued by feelings of regret, and the plots seem driven by their attempts to put things right. More often than not, they fail, but not before they realize that putting things right isn’t necessary and the morose conclusions of Jason’s stories are often peppered with bittersweet senses of accomplishment.
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