Saturday, 3 December 2022

Upside Dawn by Jason Review

Norwegian cartoonist Jason’s back with a new short comics anthology, Upside Dawn, and continuing the unfortunate trend started last year with the lacklustre Good Night, Hem, it’s also not very good - and he normally does short comics so well!

There’s quite a few stories here (over 20 if you count the really short comics in the end section titled Etc.) but I found only three to be any good.

The City of Light, Forever is a Star Trek parody where Kirk and Spock time travel to 1920s Paris where Spock falls in love with the era/lifestyle. It’s a cute mashup of pop culture and history that Jason does so well.

Seal VII is a comedic take on The Seventh Seal where Death plays a Knight for his life - except this Knight doesn’t know how to play chess! Ulysses is a reimagining of the James Joyce classic by way of Grindhouse cinema, sexed up with guns and treasure huntin’, which was amusing.

The majority of the stories are either references to artists/works I haven’t experienced so didn’t get, or I did get them but didn’t find them entertaining. Woman, Man, Bird is an abstract take on a date, which might reference some famous movie? Perec, PI - is this Georges Perec, the French writer? Dunno. I liked that it was told where each sentence was cut off mid-sentence, yet the story was still understandable (mostly because it was a generic noir story). Probably a reference to Perec’s stuff? Ionesco is a documentary-style story about… Ionesco, whoever they are? I’m guessing the style of the comic is in the vein of their work or something?

The Prisoner in the Castle mashes up Kafka the writer and the 1960s The Prisoner TV show because two kooky things supposedly taste great together? Crime and Punishment is a succinct summary of the novel - I think anyway as I’ve never read it. Nor do I think I will if the summary is accurate - phew, what a boring load of bollocks! And the comic itself is also very dull as a result.

EC Come… and …EC Go are parodies of old EC Comics-style stories, one about a magician who murders his assistant, and another where space adventurers encounter a weird planet. I’ve read some EC Comics reprints but they’re not great so Jason basically replicating that doesn’t make for amazing comics either.

The others are forgettable dross - a vampire story, a time travel story, a kid’s story, more abstract rubbish, and then the book closes out with fanservice shorts where characters from previous books cameo, like recurring character Athos, the Mummy and Elvis from Meow, Baby! and the werewolf from Werewolves of Montpellier. Nothing remarkable about any of it unless you get excited about easter egg spotting, and why would anyone?

Jason is one of my favourite cartoonists and I look forward to all of his books but Upside Dawn is a very weak collection of forgettable and surprisingly crap, half-baked short comics. He’s done this kind of thing before much better - if you’ve not read them, I highly recommend the books Pocket Full of Rain and Meow, Baby! instead.

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