Almost Silent

By: Jason
Genre: humor remix of horror icons with romance and literary stuff, all with funny animals
Context: originally published all over the place; collected by Fantagraphics in 2008

I don’t want to get to thinking about Jason’s art too much since I’m pretty sure I have three more books of his to read as the project winds on. Instead, I want to try to say something specifically about this book. It starts of with a number of shorter strips — gag strips, I guess. Some are a page or two long. Some are literally strips, just three or four panels. Across them trot zombies, vampires, skeletons, Frankenstein’s monsters, and even a couple The Terminators. As the strips go on, these characters meet up and mix until the final pages of the first section become a sort phantasmagorical clip show of archetypes, taking off masks and seeing each other and TV and blending into one another.

It feels like Jason emptied out his toy box and kept his Ninja Turtles together and his GI Joes together and so on… until he realized he could play with them all together. And there is something posed about his art and his storytelling, almost like he’s taking high-contrast photos of people he’s directing.

Then there’s the masks and the blending. It gets really weird at times. In Jason’s art, a dog person and a duck person are only separated by a few details. A beak versus a muzzle, or a spiky crest of feathers or fur on the back of the head. At first, these are details that serve to differentiate characters. However, once dogs start donning fake beaks (that, in Jason’s minimalist style, look exactly like real beaks), any sense of confidence I had in who these people were became undermined. I became suspicious.

Once all the weirdness is done, there are longer stories. They seem to have an overriding theme regarding one’s insides being what’s important. The monster and the hunchback are good, the scientist is evil, and love, if it’s strong enough, persists even when the lovers become zombies. This is oddly consistent with the earlier part of the book. Outsides shift and change, but that doesn’t change a person’s identity. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m still a little weirded out.