F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce walk into a Parisian bar - No, it's not the beginning of a joke, but the premise of Jason's unique new graphic novel. Set in 1920s Paris, The Left Bank Gang is a deliciously inventive re-imagining of these four literary figures as not only typical Jason anthropomorphics, but as graphic novelists!
Yes, in Jason's warped world, cartooning is the dominant form of fiction, and not only do these four work literary giants work in the comics medium but they get together to discuss pen vs. brush, chat about the latest graphic novels from Dostoevsky (can't tell any of his characters apart!) to Faulkner (Hasn't he heard of white space? His panels are too crowded!), and bemoan their erratic careers.
With guest appearances by Zelda Fitzgerald and Jean-Paul Sartre, and a few remarkable twists and turns along the way, and you've got one of the funniest and most playful graphic novels of the year. Like Jason's acclaimed Why Are You Doing This? and Meow, Baby, The Left Bank Gang is rendered in full spectacular colour.
Fantagraphics, paperback, 48 pages, published November 2008 (new printing)
From the Kirkus review: "in Norwegian writer and artist Jason's latest work, he creates a unique world by combining the cultural atmosphere of Paris in the 1920s; literary heavyweights Hemingway,
Fitzgerald, Pound and Joyce as anthropomorphic animal cartoonists; and a madcap heist caper inspired in part by Stanley Kubrick's The Killing.
The book, the author explains, had its
beginnings in the critically acclaimed artist's having read numerous biographies of Papa, as well as his memoirs and letters. While he wanted to use all this information, Jason says, he didn't dare do a straight biographical portrait. Drawing on influences ranging from Tintin artist Herge
to Jim Jarmusch to Finnish director Aki Kaurismki, Jason masterfully uses his clean style to tell the tale as effectively with pictures as with words.
There might be some sort of Scandinavian melancholy in the stories, he says, but hopefully they are funny at the same time. It's a lot about playing with genres and old films, and using those characters to tell another kind of story."