Review of “I Killed Adolf Hitler” by Jason

“I got to get rid of the body”

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About 1

Jason. I Killed Adolph Hitler. Fantagraphics, 2007. Print.

Awards

2008: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for I Killed Adolf Hitler 

#62 on CBH Greatest Graphic Novels of all Time

Book Summary

From the publisher, “In this full-color graphic novel, Jason posits a strange, violent world in which contract killers can be hired to rub out pests, be they dysfunctional relatives, abusive co-workers, loud neighbors, or just annoyances in general — and as you might imagine, their services are in heavy demand. One such killer is given the unique job of traveling back in time to kill Adolf Hitler in 1939… but things go spectacularly wrong. Hitler overpowers the would-be assassin and sends himself to the present, leaving the killer stranded in the past. The killer eventually finds his way back to the present by simply waiting the decades out as he ages, and teams up with his now much-younger girlfriend to track down the missing fascist dictator… at which point the book veers further into Jason territory, as the cartoonist’s minimalist, wickedly dry sense of humor slows down the story to a crawl: for long patches absolutely nothing happens, but nobody can make nothing happening as riotously entertaining as Jason does… and finally, when the reader isn’t paying attention, he brings it together with a shocking, perfectly logical and yet completely unexpected climax which also solves a mystery from the very beginning of the book the reader had forgotten about. As always, I Killed Adolf Hitler is rendered in Jason’s crisp deadpan neo-clear-line style, once again augmented by lovely, understated coloring.”

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Courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts

Spoiler alert, Adolph Hitler dies… Big shocker I know.  The title is very much in the writing style of the novel: minimalist, terse, and concise. No need for grand allusions or literary whatnot; Jason writes very well and does not need to be wordy. The writing could almost come off as cold, but it isn’t really. It is just succinct. Why write a paragraph, when one word will work. Using this terse writing style, he explores themes of love, loss, moving on, and assassination and morality in equal measures throughout the book.

You would think that with a plot like the assassination of Adolph Hitler through time travel via a for-hire assassin, it would be difficult to add in a romance element to it. But Jason makes it work rather well. Again the romance is bare bones, but the emotions are subtle, raw, and very thoughtful.

His protagonist is an interesting choice for the story. He set him as an assassin who kills without qualms on a daily basis without the worry of legal or moral ramifications. However, throughout the novel, he shows morality, and empathy and even longing in other areas of his life. The leads the reader to think of him as a walking, talking, killing contradiction. How can the reader have compassion for his plights and cheer him on in his quest to assassinate Adolph Hitler at the same time? It is a conundrum, but it happens very quickly. Although, calling him a likable character would do him a disservice. You do kinda like him. He has a very macabre sense of humor that we get little wisps of throughout the story. Even with his sparse lines, he says much in the “in-between” panels.

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Kill Hitler. http://www.goodreads.com

What humor there is very macabre and very dry, skimming the line of the ironic. In one scene the assassin is working in his office, that looks very much like a doctors office. He has a line of customers (patients) waiting patiently to see him. The whole scene is bathed in irony and macabre humor.

Graphically, again the panels are very spare. A limited color palette is used, as well as a very sparse, very flat linework. The main characters are humans, with cartoonish animal heads. You can tell that Jason was very much influenced by the Ligne Clair comic style, à la “Adventures of Tin Tin.” “(Ligne Claire) Uses clear, strong lines all of the same width and no hatching, while contrast is downplayed as well. Cast shadows are often illuminated. Additionally, the style often features strong colors and a combination of cartoonish characters against a realistic background. All these elements together can result in giving comics drawn this way a flat aspect. (wikipedia.com)” Jason nailed this style.

Conclusion

Read it, it will take you an hour at most. Jason comics are among the best graphic novels have to offer right now. They are profound without being egotistical and pompous. Jason gets you thinking about things without it clouding over your day. They are perfect.

“Ligne Claire.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 June 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligne_claire.

Graphic Novel Review – Lost Cat by Jason

Crime noir and lost animals.

Stats

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Hardcover, 160 pages
  • Published August 3rd, 2013 by Fantagraphics (first published June 19th, 2013)
  • Original Title “Savnet Katt”
  • ISBN1606996428 (ISBN13: 9781606996423)Edition Language English
  • URL http://www.fantagraphics.com/lostcat

Awards

  • 1995: Sproing Award, for Lomma full av regn 2000: Sproing Award, for Mjau Mjau 10: Si meg en ting
  • 2000: Urhunden Prize for the best translated graphic novel, for Vänta lite…
  • 2002: Inkpot Award 2002: Harvey Award, Best New Talent, for Hey, Wait…
  • 2005: Brage Prize, Open Class for La meg vise deg noe…
  • 2007: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for The Left Bank Gang 2008: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for I Killed Adolf Hitler 

About

From the publisher, “A detective is walking down the street. It is raining. He sees a “Lost Cat” poster. A minute later he sees the cat from the photo. He picks it up and goes back to the poster. He calls the number. A woman answers. He turns up at her place and gives her the cat. She invites him in from the rain for a cup of coffee. They talk and find out they have a lot in common: both are divorced and living alone. Some days later he invites her out for a dinner. She accepts. He shows up at the agreed time. She doesn’t. He calls her home and knocks on her door. No answer. He asks the neighbors. They haven’t seen her. She has disappeared. He makes some phone calls and investigates, but can’t find her. He gets a new client and has to start working on a new case. In his head, he continues their conversation. Lost Cat, the new graphic novel by Jason (after years of “graphic novellas” of less than 50 pages, arguably his first genuine graphic NOVEL) is both a playful take on the classic detective story, and a story about how difficult it is to find a sister spirit, someone you feel a real connection to–and what do you do if you lose that person?”

My Thoughts

An Anthropomorphized Sam Spade like character.

As “Criminal” by Ed Brubaker is crime noir at its finest,  as it “Lost Cat” by Norwegian writer Jason. Where “Criminal” concentrates on the more violent aspects of the crime noir genre, Jason concentrates on more human emotions and interactions all within the context of a crime caper. He is a master at delving into the loneliness and isolation of his characters and despair and you see that if you read some of his other works. However, as his characters wallow in despair his writing always has a glimmer of hope at the end of the day. 

“The Lost Cat” is about finding that perfect person, the person that understands you. That person that you connect with and what happens if you let that person go? What do you do with the yearning and unrequited feelings that you feel? His anthropomorphized lead detective character finds his person, lets her go, and seeks her out again. He searches her out and finds many other people all searching for that thing that completes them. Each of the characters at one point in time experience a form of loss; a person, a painting, and a lost world.  Each of them reacts to that loss in one way or another. Just like the real world, we are all different and we all search and react differently. Jason is that he is able to take that idea and create fully realized characters with minimal language that the reader can identify with. 

Here is the weird thing about this story, I have no idea what happened over the course of it. The characters interact, there is loss and despair and there is hope but I do not understand the ending of this story or how everything comes together. I’ll save the big reveal in case you read it. Maybe I don’t need to understand it? It could be an open-ended interpretation of human isolation and longing. 

I don’t know what Jason’s intent was when writing this, but I only know how I feel after having read it. I am affected by it. His writing affected my emotions and made me think. So in that, it was a successful book for me. But, with the lack of cohesive plot, it is missing something. Maybe in six months I’ll go back and try it again with a semi-fresh set of eyes and feelings. But as it stands, it is a solid three stars.