On refinement and Jason.

Short stories, they’re the thing.

If you can’t say everything you need to in a fifteen-page short story, you’ve pretty much failed. As I get older, and “wiser”, I realise this is true in all things. Samuel Beckett’s bare(ly) theatre of Krapp’s Last Tape, Not I, Jørgen Leth’s Det Perfekte Menneske, Tony Conrad‘s Slapping Pythagoras, this bicycle rack, these buildings, and Jason.

Jason is a Norwegian graphic novelist/comic book artist who makes the finest short stories. His characters are dog- or bird-faced, existing as real people. Each story only lasts between thirty and fifty pages, six frames per page. There are a handful of words per story. Everything is in simple visual signs, glances, references to modernist culture. Pathos is rife, and every cell makes me nod in acknowledgement or break into laughter.

The Living and The Dead

I’ve consumed everything available to me, from the recent masterpieces Werewolves of Montpellier (pretend werewolf meets real werewolves), I Killed Adolf Hitler (time-travel assassins) and The Left Bank Gang (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Pound, and Joyce hold up a Parisian bank), back through to his initial work featuring real humans. Make yourself comfortable at Fantagraphics and spend some quality money.

It’s beautiful to see how Jason has refined everything; stripping away anything that could be considered filigree, cutting out any words that don’t need saying. He has mastered the barely story, telling imperceptible narratives vaguely inferred, and a crispness of drawing that ignores unnecessary fill.

All that remains is a wry sociopathy you can’t help but fall in love with.

Jason is the best thing I’ve come across in the last couple of years. He also has a very funny blog that he posts sketches and talks about eighties movies.

Bookmark him.

3 thoughts on “On refinement and Jason.

  1. Tweets that mention On refinement and Jason. « Mount Analogue -- Topsy.com

  2. I like short stories too. Mostly older ones, like Sherlock Holmes – which used to be published in a newspaper.

    I wonder if digital distribution might make short stories once again more viable?

  3. I’m a big fan of Ballard’s short stories, and Joyce’s Dubliners is one of my favourite books (short stories serialised in papers, too).

    I think the web should should provoke more short stories, but it’s quite hard to find them. I’d imagine the short stories will be shorter, 150-500 efforts rather than 15-50 pages, or even SMS-story telling like (the woeful) Ivy4Evr. People don’t have the attention for so much writing, especially online writing.

    Marcus Brown has done some nice things with short stories: Jack The Twitter (http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&vps=1&jsv=265c&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=114481367167253291807.0004844497f05be23ba35) and 1000 Stories (http://1000stories.posterous.com, which I contributed one to.)

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