Almost Silent packages four original Jason graphic novels, three of them out of print since mid-2008 into one compact, hardcover omnibus collection. (As the title indicates, this volume favors Jason's pantomime works.) You Can't Get There From Here, the longest story of the book (and the only one to be printed in color well, a color), tells the tale of a love triangle involving Frankenstein, Frankenstein's Monster, and The Monster's Bride: Jason cleverly alternates between totally silent sequences involving the three characters and scenes in which Frankenstein's hunchbacked assistant discusses the day s events with a fellow hunchbacked assistant to another mad scientist. (You didn't know they had a union?) Tell Me Something is a brisk (271 panels), near-totally-silent (just a few intertitles) graphic novelette about love lost and found again, told with a tricky mixture of forward- and back-flashing narrative. Meow, Baby is a collection of Jason's short stories and gags, and finally, The Living and the Dead is a hilariously deadpan (and gory) take on the traditional Romero-style zombie thriller. All of these yarns star Jason's patented cast of tight-lipped (or -beaked) bird-, dog-, cat- and wolf-people, and show off his compassion and wry wit. Almost Silent is a perfect starting point for a new reader wanting to know what the fuss is all about, and a handsome, handy, inexpensive collection for the committed Jason fan.
John Arne Sæterøy (born 16 May 1965 in Molde), better known by the pen name Jason, is a Norwegian cartoonist, known for his sparse drawing style and silent, anthropomorphic animal characters.
He has been nominated for two Ignatz Awards (2000: Outstanding Story and Outstanding Series, 2001: Outstanding Story and Outstanding Series), has received praise in Time, and won the Harvey Award for best new talent in 2002, and several Eisner Awards.
I just reread and reviewed individual volumes collected in this one volume, which I also now have, a little obsessively. As he says, observantly, all four books are either silent or most silent, in that they are almost completely wordless, depending on the images to convert the narratives. Often 3 panel strips, sometimes a single page, sometimes titled longer form stories, sometimes not titles. The longer form titles such as Hey, Wait, Why Are You Doing This, Lost Cat, I killed Adolph Hitler, The Left Bank Gang, I prefer, see as stronger, I guess, evidence of craft development.
The four books are still great, don't get me wrong, as I say in my reviews, all 4 star books:
No author I know right now is as gripping as Jason. I read these all right away in one sitting without feeling pressured. The idea of reading the entire collection of Jason's work in a single day does not sound all that masochistic.
But I don't like Jason's more silent works (I even preferred 'Shh!' to these, which was completely silent!) They rely more heavily on his distinctive fast-paced action scenes, which are brilliant, but that I enjoy most when they lead to the events found in stronger narratives of his, such as in 'Hey Wait' or 'Why Are You Doing This'. What can be seen by reading this is that Jason's dialogue adds. Without the narrative, this is passionless action, the comedy or tragedy of it is lost. I wish Jason would use more colour and words in his work, it does it justice.
Jason is a minimalist graphic novelist - usually bold black and whites. Occasionally another color or two. But always sharp contrasts.
The stories in here are hard to follow at times. I've heard people complain about the names in Russian literature, or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In a way, this was like the graphic novel version of that. (I hate it when people say that, by the way. And I hate myself for pointing out this graphic novel equivalent.)
Even though the stories were hard to follow, there were pieces - single panels, sometimes two or three pages at a time - that were just weird and great. Sections that made you sit and think for a minute.
I'm not really qualified to review graphic novels. Or really anything. But that's the great part about a site like goodreads, and what keeps me coming back.
Almost Silent by Jason collects four of Jason's "quieter" pieces. This volume is full of some of his short strips focused, in the vain of Charles Addams, on horror and monsters. The usual mix of sadness, humor, and intrigue makes this one stand out. I have read The Living and The Dead before so it was a nice treat to revisit that one.
Four graphic novels, all available separately. Two of them I'd already read very recently, so I didn't reread those, but copy pasted my reviews.
Meow, Baby. (Already read, in Jan. 2022.) 4 stars. Quite liked this collection of b/w stories by Norwegian cartoonist Jason (John Arne Sæterøy). Most of the stories are only a few pages, with one longer piece (The Mummy's Secret). The collection wraps up with about fifteen pages of very short (3 panel) cartoons. Recurring characters include Elvis, cavemen, an alien, wolf man, a mummy and various zombies, skeletons ... ie, your assorted walking undead. Mostly sight gags, slapstick, and often delightfully odd and/or surreal. One or two I'm not sure I "got", but hey that's okay, because I found it pretty consistently amusing. Especially liked the wolf man, always finding himself transforming at inopportune moments. Like say, when meeting his lady friend's parents.
The Living and the Dead. (Already read, in Jan. 2022) 3.5 stars Pretty cool graphic novel/short story by Norwegian cartoonist Jason (John Arne Sæterøy). Considering that I generally have zero interest in zombie stuff, I liked this much more than I thought I would. (Saw Night of the Living Dead when it came out, and that was plenty for me.) Nearly wordless, what little dialogue is presented, ala silent movies, on black panels with white lettering. Sweet ending, or as sweet as you can get with zombies anyway. Judging by the cars, it seems to be set in the 20's or 30's.
Tell Me Something. 3 stars. Not one of Jason's best, but still entertaining. Very nice b/w art, nearly silent, with some dialogue on black "cards" ala silent films. The early 20th century setting adds to the silent fim-like effect.
You Can't Get There From Here. 4 stars. Such a great title. A riff on Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Three color art. There's actually some dialogue in this one, between the two "Igor"-like assistants to the scientist, you know, the guys who do all the dirty work like digging up graves ,hauling jars of brains, etc. Their casual patter on coffee breaks is pretty funny. Particularly loved their silent nonchalance as angry "villagers" run outside their window, bearing the usual pitchforks and flaming torches.
Jason is a poet in the medium of comics. He possesses an articulate and deep knowledge of how to draw a streamlined page, allowing our eyes to glide from panel to panel effortlessly. This collection is focused on stories of his that feature little to no dialogue, allowing Jason to show off his skill in relying on strong visuals and cleverly placed motifs, as well as letting the reader soak in the artwork even more than usual.
His work is easy to get lost in, as I usually read each of them in one sitting, Almost Silent being the exception due to circumstance. “You Can’t Get There From Here” was probably my favorite from this collection, although I really enjoyed every story. I also deeply enjoyed the first half of the collection is fluid set of one-page comics that build a loose story, but serve as complete stand-alone pieces.
With a stronger emphasis on visual storytelling and a deeper focus on art, this makes for Jason’s quietest work yet. However, the style, humor, drama, and humanity remain. If you enjoy his work, you’re sure to love Almost Silent.
A combination of four Stories written by Jason, this mostly wordless graphic novel is a must read for all who are looking for a laugh, to be enveloped in a million different storylines, or to simply read a satirical outlook on life. Taking place in a city, there are many characters looked at in these stories. The zombies and skeletons are feared by the city people, but as this book shows, they are just doing their jobs. In the storyline "You can't Get There From Here" Frankenstein's monster, his bride, and what looks like Dr. Frankenstein himself are in a love triangle, and although the dialogue in the story is restricted to Dr. Frankenstein and a colleague, the story plays out very clearly. 5/5
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This is a collection of four shorter books by Norwegian cartoonist, Jason.
The first book consists of mostly shorter pieces - generally from a few panels to a few pages. These were the weakest in the book I thought. In some ways Jason's style is best suited to short strips, but for some reason the longer pieces seem to work much better.
The second piece in the book is the best in my opinion. It's a hard-boiled love story - featuring Jason's funny animals, obviously. This had the most narrative depth and characterisation. Not vast amounts, but what's there is very effective. Interestingly, similar to Shiga's Empire State Jason uses different page colours to indicate what bits are flashback.
The third is a monster story with a lot of humanity. Essentially a reinterpretation of Frankenstein story archetypes. I liked this one a lot too.
The fourth is a love story with zombies. Quite fun, but a little repetitive.
A good but somewhat uneven book. 3 stars is a little ungenerous - certainly the middle parts were worth more - but better to be pleasantly surprised.
Jason has become one of my favorite graphic novelists, ever since I stumbled upon the comic I Killed Adolf Hitler. His stories are offbeat, often deeply emotional and melancholy, and combined with a simple yet quirky art style. "Almost Silent" is a collection of shorter stories and gag-a-day strips, showcasing his weird and macabre humor, common themes in his work, and funky art style.
"Meow, Baby!" is a collection of short stories and one-shot gags, featuring mummies, zombies, aliens, vampires, cavemen, Frankenstein's monster, Elvis (yes, really), and other B-movie creatures as they go about their daily lives. "You Can't Get There From Here" features an unlikely love triangle between a mad scientist, Frankenstein's monster, and the Bride of Frankenstein. "Tell Me Something" is a near-silent (hence the collection's title, "Almost Silent") story of love lost, found, and imperiled as two lives entwine in unlikely ways. And "The Living and the Dead" is a Romero-style zombie story with surprisingly emotional moments.
Jason's art style takes some getting used to -- the poses are often stiff and awkward, and the blank-eyed animal characters have little emotional range in their expressions. But there's something charming and quirky about it, and the art is able to say a lot using a little detail. Be warned -- despite having anthropomorphic cartoon animals as characters, this is NOT a graphic novel for children. Jason is not shy about depicting graphic violence, nudity, and sexual material in his work, and most of these stories are aimed at older audiences anyhow.
The stories and gag strips range the gamut from funny to morbid to shocking to sad, and often a combination of the above. Jason has a knack for giving monstrous creatures very human emotions, and finding the humanity and heart in otherwise fantastic situations. His love of B-movie horror and sci-fi shows through, but that's not all bad and in fact adds to the quirky charm of this work.
"Almost Silent" is an excellent collection of Jason's work, including a few of his graphic novels that have since fallen out of print. It's also a good starting-off point for newcomers to Jason's body of work.
Almost silent is a graphic novel that contains four Jason’s books: Meow, baby, tell me something, you can’t get from here and the living and the dead. Unlike many other comic books out there, this book is basically all black and white except one chapter, even though the pictures and illustrations still look quite good and interesting, it would’ve been better if more stories and chapters was coloured. Another part where this stands out is the lack of dialogue, dozens of pages often goes without any words, just pictures. This definitely made the book easier to read and shorter, but the book also conveyed the content and the plot quite well without words. I liked the fact that there are a lot of action scenes in this book and the plot is humorous and quite easy to understand. Most of the jokes in this book are dark or slightly inappropriate humour, while most are funny and enjoyable, this is definitely not a comic book for children. One of the letdowns of the book for me is the amount of characters and how they appear in completely different plots, this confused me a lot while I was reading the book, it probably would not have been a problem if I reread the book again, but many of the characters appear too similar and this is definitely one of the areas that would’ve improved with the addition of colour.
I might have enjoyed this more if it was the first book I read by Jason. I read Low Moon not long ago and I love it, but this one is more of a mixed bag. The first half of the collection is just filled with the earliest strips. They range between one page and a few panels. The one page strips are fun, but a bit of a letdown when you are expecting some kind of story. They are funny.
There are stories though: "You Can't Get There from Here" and "Tell Me Something" are very interesting, but I couldn't keep track of the different characters. This confusion kind of took away from the stories. If I read them a couple more times, they will probably make more sense.
The standout in the collection is "The Living and the Dead." Story is not confusing at all and I don't think many artists can pull off a love story with a zombie apocalypse as well as Jason has.
As my second book from Jason, I’m not disappointed. This collection of mostly silent comics are entertaining, funny and well executed. I really like Jason’s layouts, they compliment the silent gimmick of the book really well by giving each page this certain flow to it. His storytelling for the most part is great, it was at a few times though, hard to follow.
7/10 Content-wise, this is a homogeneous collection, as it presents most of the silent comics created by Jason. (The 'almost' in the title refers to the fact that a few times characters do speak.) Qualitatively, this is a heterogeneous collection, at least for me.
The first half of the volume contains the book Meow, Baby!, a collage of strips and short gags of one or two pages, with cliché movie-monsters (Dracula, zombies, mummies, aliens, Elvis and Arnold Schwarzenegger) as protagonists. I did not like this part, as I have written in my review of the album here.
On the other hand, I found the second half of the volume fantastic. It contains three 45-page long stories, which are some of the peaks of Jason's work. All of them are love stories, all of them tragic in one way or another.
You Can't Get There from Here is the best story in the anthology, and the only one not completely in black and white. It is a Frankenstein love story, with a rich cast of characters. My review is here.
The Living and the Dead is the simplest story, and possibly the most touching. A romance between a dishwasher and a prostitute taking place...during a zombie apocalypse! My thoughts on this one can be found here.
This hardcover collects four of Norwegian cartoonist Jason's out-of-print books: Meow Baby, Tell Me Something, You Can't Get There From Here, and The Living and the Dead. Similar to Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson, Jason relies on the humorous side of horror in these mostly wordless tales. Perhaps none demonstrates this unique confluence more than the charming and funny Night of the Living Dead-inspired The Living and the Dead. After all, nothing says true love like giving your betrothed the heart from a freshly-dead woman. Throughout the sublime Almost Silent, Jason examines traditional relationships and social norms via a deliciously warped lens, quite probably one constructed by Dr. Frankenstein himself.
I'm constantly amazed with what Jason manages to convey with his simply drawn characters and nearly dialog-less strips. His drawings say so much more than what is simply presented to the reader and the depth of emotion is simply startling.
This collection of works covers some of Jason's more supernatural works, with stories that involve Frankenstein, Dracula, zombies, mad scientists, aliens, mummies, cavemen, and walking skeletons, to name a few. While the characters themselves are far removed from reality, the situations they find themselves in, the sadness that permeates their lives, and the dark human-truths they expose are all too real.
While filled with humorous moments, Jason is best when he is exploring the melancholy of existence and the tragedy of lost love. Very few comic strips ever dare to delve as deeply into the human soul as Jason’s do, and those that try rarely succeed as well as he does.
I've read one other of Jason's books (Hey, wait...) and this is the first collection of his that I've read. There are a couple more out there and I look forward to reading the rest of his works. Highly recommended to anyone who likes there comics to have depth and substance.
I think the hardcover omnibuses like this one and What I Did are the best way to read him, as his books are usually (especially in terms of reading time) more like short stories and if you read just one you'll think "that was good, but it was over so fast!" But read a bunch in a row and you get the full Jason effect. He deals more in feelings/emotions than in thoughts or ideas, and his stories always leave you with an emotional epiphany or twist. A bunch of those in a row and it's a pretty powerful effect. I don't think he has one book that's a masterpiece, but he's consistently really good.
You could also admire him for his clean, charming art and his amazingly fluid and economic story-telling, but we'll save that for another time.
Brilliant. I'm gradually learning that I really love Jason's work. For a long time the price tag turned me off (80 pages for 15 bucks) but now that they're recollecting his short works in these well-produced but low-priced hardcovers ($25 for 4 of his shorter works, totaling 300 pages) I'm happy to purchase them. And they're so well-drawn, interesting, emotional, funny... They're just great. Loved the comedic takes on vampires, zombies and mummies found in Meow Baby, and equally loved the romantic love story combined with a frightening zombie apocalypse in The Living and the Dead. Beautifully packaged, highly intelligent stories with real heart all around.
The book starts off with a mummy escaping his sarcophagus and walking outside. A startled bicyclist wrecks his bike when he sees the mummy. The mummy tries to approach various strangers for a quarter so he can call an ambulance for the poor bicyclist. Everyone runs away, terrified.
A skeleton holds his breath underwater for a minute plus.
A zombie can't seem to figure out why people are running from him and attempts various hygienic methods because he just doesn't get it.