written by Jason
Low Moon marks a break from the usual repertoire of the Norwegian comic creator generally known only as Jason. The first noticeable difference comes in the book’s design. Gone is the usual single-story, matte-finished paperback. Instead, Jason offers his readers five tales on slightly smaller pages in a hardbound collection.
The second notable difference is in the speech bubbles, in that there are quite a few, breaking from the normal less-is-more approach to text. The art still holds up its end, saying a lot in the mannerisms of the deceptively simple anthropomorphic animals Jason draws. While Jason’s work can be read quickly, it shouldn’t be, as there are so many subtleties to be found in the art.
In that sense, it is almost a shame to see so much text in the Low Moon collection, as it works against the Jason experience in many ways, but the subject matter of the stories arguably requires more text this time around.
The first, “Emily Says Hello,” follows a man who carries out implied dastardly deeds in exchange for increasingly intense sexual favors from a woman. The action builds until it culminates in an ending that is almost cruel in its ambiguity. It reminds one of something artsy but misguided that might be expected at a college film festival, but there is always an indication that Jason knows exactly what he’s doing and that the college festival feel is the effect he’s seeking.
“Low Moon,” a story originally published in The New York Times, lends the book its name and follows a traditional western format, replacing the requisite gunfight with a game of chess. It is downright silly, and the payoff isn’t there in the plot, but as usual with Jason’s work, it entertains with delicate absurdity on the way there.
The next two, “&” and “Proto Film Noir,” deal with similar themes of men doing everything they can to win the affection of women who have no interest in them. The theme actually plays a large part in most of the stories in this book, but these two specifically feel quite similar, “Proto Film Noir” arguably being the better of the two. Jason strikes a good pace with the chain of building action, and incredibly violent scenes are handled with a nonchalant, cartoonish approach. “You Are Here” closes the collection, providing a look at the idea of families passing things down to their children.
Jason’s books have always had a cinematic feel, and he seems to examine this more than ever with direct tie-ins to film concepts playing major roles in several of the stories. It is hard not to feel that the pacing is a bit off in this collection, though. Whether it is due to the change from six- to four-panel pages, a heftier amount of text, the shift from serialized publication to collection (in the case of “Low Moon”), or general writing issues, the stories don’t strike quite the same chord as his previous work.
That said, all of the stories in “Low Moon” are entertaining, and fans of Jason should be more than happy to digest five new comics from one of the best in the business.