A Lost Generation of Graphic Novelists

Every once is a rare while a book, movie, play or comic comes along that seems to have been written specifically with you in mind. For me, the most recent example of this phenomenon is Jason's The Left Bank Gang.

Since I first encountered mention of the Lost Generation in my early teens I was intrigued. How amazing would it have been to read about, much less see all of these phenomenal writers interacting in Paris? Of course, the reality of the situation was that half of them couldn't stand each other and the other half were unwilling to admit how jealous they were of so and so's critical or financial success. Still, the idea of it is intriguing and it is this premise (along with what appears to be a deep appreciation for the work of these authors) in which the story is grounded. Jason adds several unusual twists to his narrative, however, the most interesting being the conversion of these authors from prose novelists and poets into graphic novelists. There's an additional layer of subtext as a result that makes some of the character's choices in the second half of the book even more disturbing.

The second half of the story is where everything takes a left turn and ends up mining Stanley Kubrick's The Killing in much the same way that Why Are You Doing This used Hitchcock, specifically Rear Window, as inspiration. The combination of these incredibly interesting characters with one of Kubrick's most underrated films results in one of my favorite books this year and my favorite of Jason's books to date.

In fact, the only complaint I have is that it comes in at just under 50 pages. I would have loved to read a more in depth version of this story, particularly one that addressed the relationship between reality and fiction that all four of the main players so often dealt with (or pretended to ignore while stealing shamelessly from their own autobiographies). Instead, Jason takes a minimalist approach, presenting what is essentially an alternate version of Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, mimicking that book's insider view of the Parisian literati while incorporating a much more sensational story. While I would enjoy a comparison between the reality of the situation versus the perception of the participants, Jason has created a book that successfully blends both approaches.



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