John Arne Sæterøy is better known by his pen name Jason. He is a cartoonist and comic writer from Molde, Norway. Jason is known for his sparse drawing style and dead pan humour. In his comics he creates an almost noir style world populated by anthropomorphic animals.
Jason’s body of work feature a number of silent comics particularly his early work. A number of these stories where collected in a comic album called “Almost Silent” released by comic publisher Fantagraphic Books in the US. In an interview with website Newsarama Jason explains why much of his early work was silent stating “a lot of the comics are without text. In the beginning it was something I did to reach outside of Norway, to skip the whole problem of language. Then I realized it was something I liked doing, it was easier for me to work without text, it was easier to improvise stories.”. Jason felt that by creating silent comics he could reach outside of his native country to a broader audience. In time he found he enjoyed the challenge of creating silent comics. Although Jason himself tells us in an interview with Buzzfeed that he doesn’t actively share his work on the internet, the idea of silent comics transcending language is a powerful idea as more than ever the silent artist has the means to reach a larger audience. Spanish artist Joan Cornellà is a strong example of a silent comic artist reaching a wider audience through the use of web and social media.
Jason is among my favourite cartoonists / comic artists. Jason’s line art style and use of flat colour palettes help to craft a world that sits perfectly with the stories and characters which he creates. Jason’s storytelling style and offbeat humour also appeal strongly to my own interests. He creates a world often doused in fantasy yet where the characters are lonesome, flawed and real. Interestingly Jason says that when he creates his comics he is concerned with telling a story first as opposed to preaching a message. In a article with The Comics Reporter he states “There are no messages there. I’m not sure if I trust any cartoonist, writer or filmmaker that chooses the theme or message first and then tell the story. Then it becomes just preaching. If there is a theme then that is something you discover while you are working.”. I find this idea refreshing particularly coming from an artist like Jason who’s work often seems pointed and poignant to me.
Personally I feel that in the past I have been guilty of procrastinating on what the point of the story might be rather than getting down to writing the story. Jason’s notion of writing an engaging story and not worrying if there is an underlying message really speaks to me. I like the idea of letting my imagination run free and allowing the story to tell itself. If then there is room for an underlying message that can be worked in and will develop as a part of the story telling process. I think i have spent too long in the past focusing on what the message will be and it has blocked me from actually developing the story. Understanding more about Jason’s storytelling process makes me want to take a new approach to how I personally tell stories. I would like to work in a way which is looser and more fun. The story and the entertainment it provides to the reader should be the first concern with any deeper meaning being a result of the development of the characters and the story. I feel if an author can tell a story in a way which rings through to themselves the extra depth and meaning can’t help but shine through.