This Week in the Mercury


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Five Questions for a Silent Artist

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Jun 10, 2009 at 1:49 PM

My favorite comics artist Jason is signing copies of his new book Low Moon this afternoon at Cosmic Monkey (5335 NE Sandy Blvd) — he's not doing a reading or giving a talk because, it turns out, the Norwegian artist thinks big speeches are a big waste of time. "I try to avoid speaking in public because I don't really have anything to say about the work I do," Jason writes via email. "It should be in the comics for the audience to discover for themselves, not for me to explain." Most of Jason's many excellent comics are almost completely wordless. He excels at creating quiet, well-paced action adventure stories - tales of zombies, bank robberies and romance gone wrong all told in black and white with few words and many suspenseful pauses. Oh, and there are no humans in Jason's world either, just dogs and cats and birds with funny beaks.

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From The Living and The Dead

Jason's en route to Portland today and tries to avoid phone interviews - here are five questions asked and answered via email.

1. Why the animals?

You should rather ask other cartoonists, why do they draw people? I didn't intellectualize it too much when I started drawing in that style, but it turned out to fit my stories. And the animal characters are more human in a way.

2. We don't really do silent media these days - people have the technology to write more words words words about themselves than ever before. Do you think this is anti-progress?

I'm not necessarily anti-technology, just asking questions if they really are bringing people closer together. And yes, it's all about being as loud as possible in the media these days. It makes me want to go in the opposite direction.

3. Your comics are often completely wordless. When you're drawing the strips, are you thinking about conversations between the characters in your head or are they conceived of wordlessly from beginning to end?

I often think about the story and the characters a long time before starting the actual drawings. And then I might get ideas for dialogues, and I just have to write them down. The story then takes some sort of shape while I'm working on it. But there are other times the ideas are mostly visual, and the eventual text comes later.

4. What is difficult about being a "superstar" (according to the Comics Journal) artist? What comes easily?

I don't really see myself as a superstar. Jason is not my real name and in some ways he seems like somebody else, not me.

5. I've bought your book The Living and the Dead as a present for five different people - it's a work a lot of people connect with for different, personal reasons. Do you aim to be universal?

Everybody likes zombies, I guess. No, I don't try to be universal. I think that would be a mistake. And you got Hollywood to do that. It's better to try to create something personal and hope it also speaks for other people.

Jason! Here all the way from Norway to keep quiet at Cosmic Monkey from 4-7PM!

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