Jason 1965- (John Arne Sæterøy)

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Jason 1965- (John Arne Sæterøy)

PERSONAL:

Born August 16, 1965, in Molde, Norway. Education: Studied at National School of Arts and Industry; graduated from Art Academy of Oslo, 1995.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Montpelier, France. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Studio Gimle, Copenhagen, Denmark, comic book writer, beginning in the late 1990s. Military service: Served in the military for one year.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Sproing Award for Best Norwegian Comic Strip, 1995, for Pocket Full of Rain, and 2000, for Mjau Mjau 10; Harvey Award for Best New Talent, 2002, for Hey, Wait; Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material, 2007, for The Left Bank Gang, and 2008, for I Killed Adolf Hitler.

WRITINGS:

Hey, Wait, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2001.

SHHHH!, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2002.

(Adaptor and illustrator) Stein Riverton, The Iron Wagon, translated by Kim Thompson, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2003.

Why Are You Doing This?, colored by Hubert, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2004.

You Can't Get There from Here, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2004.

Tell Me Something, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2004.

(With others) Rosetta: A Comics Anthology, Volume 2, Alternative Comics, 2004.

The Left Bank Gang, translated by Kim Thompson, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2006.

The Living and the Dead, translated by Kim Thompson, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2007.

I Killed Adolf Hitler, translated by Kim Thompson, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2007.

The Last Musketeer, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2008.

Also the author of Pocket Full of Rain, 1995; Den Hemmelighetsfulle Mumie, 2001; Meow, Baby, 2006; and the comic book series, "Mjau Mjau." Contributor to KonK and the New York Times Magazine.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jason is a Norwegian comic book writer. Born in Molde, Norway, on August 16, 1965, John Arne Sæterøy uses the single-name sobriquet to publish his comics, something he has done since the mid-1990s. Most of his stories contain anthropomorphic characters, one of his trademarks.

Hey, Wait was the first of Jason's books published in the United States. The story is one of tragedy and regret with the character Jon's warning of "hey, wait" coming moments too late to prevent disaster.

Andrew D. Arnold, reviewing the book in Time, found it to be "told in a sweetly simple way." Arnold remarked that "the ingenious title … not only relates to the story but to the act of reading the story. Panels that display a character's quiet moment likewise become our quite moment, for real. Unlike traditional literature, comix, and particularly Jason's simple style, allow the reader to fully move into the space provided."

The following year, Jason published SHHHH! in the United States. The book is a collection of ten shorter stories that are connected by only slight references to each other. The text is completely comprised of onomatopoeia, and each story has a bird-man character in it.

Arnold, again writing in Time, commented that "words would … seem like an intrusion on Jason's pared-down style," concluding that "the quiet pleasures of Jason's SHHHH! way outclass the usual clanging, banging noise of ordinary comic books. Close the door, turn off the music, and enjoy a funny, touching world."

In 2003 Jason adapted and illustrated Stein Riverton's novel The Iron Wagon, which was then translated into English by Kim Thompson. Set in 1909 on Hvaler, an island off the coast of Norway, an iron wagon heard near the Gjaernes farm foretells a murder in the area.

C. Nathan Coyle, writing on the Rambles Web Site, mentioned that "this is a riveting whodunit with wonderful visuals that perpetuate a mysterious and ominous mood, right up to the revelation of the killer." Coyle personally expressed that he was "very grateful to Jason for giving us this thrilling story while providing his unique representation of the characters." Booklist contributor Ray Olson commented that Jason's graphic interpretation of the characters "increase the somberness of proceedings that become as psychologically oppressive as a heavy Ingmar Bergman film."

In 2004 Jason published Why Are You Doing This?, which was colored by Hubert. Alex looks after a friend's apartment but is later framed for murder. A local shopkeeper cum love interest helps him to figure out the case.

Booklist contributor Olson remarked that Jason's "expressionally limited, animal-headed figures seem downright Bogey-and-Baby-ish in this ever-so-satisfy- ing, archetypal exercise in romantic fatalism." George Galuschak, reviewing the book in Kliatt, commented that the book "is well-drawn, well-written material that is actually quite funny." Galuschak also observed that "the characters are more realistic and the plot more sophisticated than your usual superhero fare." A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote that "this work solidifies Jason's reputation as one of the medium's finest storytellers."

Jason published Tell Me Something in 2004. The story joins tales of petty crime and love, lost and found repeatedly. Booklist contributor Olson thought that "some may lack the patience and concentration the book demands, but those who don't may return to it repeatedly, as to a favorite film, to see what they have previously missed."

Translated by Thompson, The Left Bank Gang was published in 2006. The story groups eclectic authors, including Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, and Joyce, and turns them into struggling graphic novelists in 1920s France who work together to rob a bank.

Olson, again writing in Booklist, noted that "Jason has developed just the style to do up noir crime stories smartly." Jennifer Feigelman, writing in Kliatt, observed that "Jason has composed a masterful mystery that will keep readers riveted," calling the conclusion "most impressive." A contributor to Publishers Weekly observed that "Jason's clean, comfortable art and droll storytelling keep everything together through all the stylistic flights of fancy."

Jason published The Living and the Dead, with translations by Kim Thompson, in 2007. The story mixes a classic tale of boy-meets-girl with zombies eating humans. A dishwasher rescues a prostitute from being eaten by a zombie and they fall in love.

Olson, reviewing the book in Booklist, mentioned that "Jason's uncluttered, uneccentrically angled and composed panels … recall the deadpan presentation of silent-film comedies." Jodi Mitchell, reviewing the book in School Library Journal, appreciated The Living and the Dead's "brevity and points of comparison with cult movies and pulp fiction." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that the style of the book's ending is "further testimony to why Jason is one of the most dependable talents creating comics today." Armando Celayo, writing in World Literature Today, found that "the reader must pay close attention to the subtleties of the drawings." Celayo claimed, however, that "this is the strength of Jason's work: the ability to create understated images that leave an arresting impression on the reader."

In 2007 Jason also published I Killed Adolf Hitler, which was again translated by Thompson. The story is an alternate history, where, through time travel, a hitman travels to the 1930s to assassinate Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Hitler, however, manages to take the same time machine to the future, leaving the hit-man's girlfriend to set things right again.

Booklist contributor Olson noted that Jason's works have "been getting more colorful" leading up to this book's publication. Olson concluded that I Killed Adolf Hitler is "not so much a jeu d'esprit as a jeu d'e-spritz. Whee!" A contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that the story takes some "unusual twists … before reaching a surprising and completely satisfying denouement." The same contributor claimed that "Jason continues to be one of the best cartoonists working anywhere."

Jason published The Last Musketeer in 2008. Athos, one of the three musketeers, still protects the French king's honor, although his discipline is lacking at this point. In this account, he also manages to save Earth from invading Martians by going to their planet and destroying their army on his own.

A contributor reviewing the book in Crack described the book as a "brilliant new swashbuckling sci-fi romance." The same contributor noted that the story is related through "Jason's graphic implicature and wry wit," adding that it is "well worth a spy." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that Jason writes "with a sharp comic streak," adding that The Last Musketeer is "one of his most enjoyable books yet." Olson, again writing in Booklist, suggested that this "may be his cheeriest" work to date. Olson also observed that it is "not as disorienting but just as effervescent as" I Killed Adolf Hitler.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of The Iron Wagon, p. 76; May 1, 2004, Ray Olson, review of Tell Me Something, p. 1553; June 1, 2005, Ray Olson, review of Why Are You Doing This?, p. 1771; June 1, 2006, Ray Olson, review of The Left Bank Gang, p. 51; March 15, 2007, Ray Olson, review of The Living and the Dead, p. 38; September 15, 2007, Ray Olson, review of I Killed Adolf Hitler, p. 56; February 1, 2008, Ray Olson, review of The Last Musketeer, p. 37.

Crack, April, 2008, review of The Last Musketeer.

Entertainment Weekly, February 15, 2008, Nisha Gopalan, "Top Drawer," p. 71.

Kliatt, September 1, 2005, George Galuschak, review of Why Are You Doing This?, p. 28; September 1, 2006, Jennifer Feigelman, review of The Left Bank Gang, p. 36.

Publishers Weekly, May 16, 2005, review of Why Are You Doing This?, p. 41; May 22, 2006, review of The Left Bank Gang, p. 37; March 26, 2007, review of The Living and the Dead, p. 72; October 29, 2007, review of I Killed Adolf Hitler, p. 37; January 28, 2008, review of The Last Musketeer, p. 48.

School Library Journal, September 1, 2007, Jodi Mitchell, review of The Living and the Dead, p. 226.

Time, October 16, 2001, Andrew D. Arnold, review of Hey, Wait; August 13, 2002, Andrew D. Arnold, review of SHHHH!

World Literature Today, September 1, 2007, Armando Celayo, review of The Living and the Dead.

ONLINE

ComicBookBin.com,http://www.comicbookbin.com/ (June 15, 2004), L.J. Douresseau, author interview.

Lambiek.net,http://lambiek.net/ (July 7, 2008), author profile.

Madburger,http://www.ljudmila.org/ (July 7, 2008), author profile.

Newsarama,http://forum.newsarama.com/ (November 26, 2004), Daniel Robert Epstein, author interview.

Rambles,http://www.rambles.net/ (December 13, 2003), C. Nathan Coyle, review of The Iron Wagon.

Read Yourself RAW,http://www.readyourselfraw.com/ (July 7, 2008), author profile.

Wizard,http://www.wizarduniverse.com/ (June 4, 2008), David Paggi, author interview.