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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
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.
Fantagraphics Books web site
© 2001 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
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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