Friday, September 15, 2006

Recommended: The Left Bank Gang

Last week I read Jason's new graphic novel, The Left Bank Gang. This Fantagraphics edition needs more effective glue (my binding has already cracked and the cover is nearly coming off), but the book is full of quality. I've never read any of Jason's longer work before--just some short pieces here and there. I was put off by his anthropomorphic animals and his seemingly expressionless style. I was wrong to dismiss him before.

This book, which tells an alternate-reality tale of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Pound's self-imposed exile in France. In this version, the four are cartoonists and, running short on funds, they decide to pull a heist. After that point, the story turns into an homage of Kubrick's The Killing, complete with non-linear storytelling.

Honestly, though, the heist is only the very last part of the book. The first 2/3rds deals with the frustrations of the characters, and the naturalistic but oblique dialogue works perfectly to capture the feel of that lost generation.

It's a short book, only 64 pages, and the Kubrick homage may be a bit too faithful to the source, but it's an excellent read with clean, expressive art by Jason. I was wrong about his work before; he's a wonderfully expressive artist. I highly recommend this book to you.

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