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Hey, Wait...Review - Hey, Wait...
A Graphic Novel
by Jason
Fantagraphic Books, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Dec 27th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 52)

In this sad story of two children, Jon and Bjorn, we see the strength of their friendship, and when one of them dies, we see the how it affects him for the rest of his life. Although this comic book novel is fairly simple and sparse in its use of language, and could probably be understood by children, parents might find it rather unsuitable for their children because the message is so depressing, and it features hints of sex and one character vomiting after drinking too much. After a childhood accident in which Bjorn dies, Jon's life is ruined. His marriage fails and he has a pointless job in a factory; he escapes his unhappiness by drinking himself into oblivion.

What makes this book by Norwegian cartoonist Jason so distinctive is that this story of despair, that could give the plot to a short film by Ingmar Bergmann, features animal characters with floppy ears who walk upright and wear clothes. The children have smooth skin and shiny eyes, while the adults have decaying features. The meaning of the book is not particularly clear; even after several readings, you can still be wondering who the mysterious nasty person with the skull-like face is. The story is surreal and symbolic, and is probably open to several interpretations. But there's little doubt that the central theme of the book is that life is miserable, empty, and unfair. There are hints that nasty and powerful people control our lives.

Of course, comic books influenced by the angst of existentialism are hardly new, but I still enjoyed Hey, Wait… for its unusual combination of cute animal characters and philosophical menace. The artwork is in black and white, with 6 frames per page with thick black borders, with no variation of size; it conveys a powerful stillness and inevitability of events playing themselves out, while also giving strong expression to the bond between the two boys and the fun they had together.

Link:
Fantagraphics Books web site

© 2001 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life. He is available to give talks on many philosophical or controversial issues in mental health.


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