A review of

The Left Bank Gang

by Jason

Central question: If the great writers of the twentieth century all robbed a bank together, what would happen?
Format: 48 pp., paperback; Size: 7" x 10"; Price: $12.95; Publisher: Fantagraphics Books; Editor: Kim Thompson; Print run: 5,000; Book design: Jacob Covey and Jason; Typeface: Hand-lettering by the author; Jason’s favorite Hemingway novel: The Sun Also Rises; Country where Jason’s comics are most popular: France; Number of times he won the Sproing Award, the most prestigious comic book award in Norway: two; Age at which the author published his first book: sixteen; Representative passage: “You talk about nothing but comics. That’s all you ever talk about. Couldn’t you talk about something else?”

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.”

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Ross Simonini

Ross Simonini is one-fourth of the band Trespassers William. He is also the music editor at and Resonance magazine.

News on Facebook Photos on Instagram Stuff on Pinterest Announcements by RSS Sounds on Soundcloud Exclusives on Tumblr Updates on Twitter

Subscribe to our mailing list