A review of
The Left Bank Gang
The Norwegian artist Jason (a.k.a. John Arne Sæterøy) draws dogs, cats, crows, and the occasional rabbit. They’re all anthropomorphic humanoids who sleep in beds and cook food, but they don’t emote and, in most of his books, they don’t speak. They observe their humdrum surroundings with a detachment bordering on existentialism, Buddhism, and pure malaise, making casual remarks like “I’m bored. Paris bores me. You bore me. Your friends bore me.” It’s a drab, plain-Jane world, but somehow, book after book, Jason manages to keep things exciting.
The Left Bank Gang mixes the Jasonian world with the Latin Quarter of 1920s Paris. The main characters include animal versions of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Sartre, Joyce, Stein, and Pound, all converted into comic book artists struggling with their art and marriages. During an argument with Zelda, F. Scott Fitzgerald says, “Do you even love me anymore? You used to be the first one to read all my comics.” While having an affair with Sartre, Hadley Hemingway says, “I could have had anyone… and I had to go and marry a cartoonist with a little prick.” Ernest even calls Crime and Punishment “a good comic book.”
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