• Columns 

    Small Press Spotlight: I Killed Adolf Hitler

    By | March 2nd, 2010
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    Article originally written by Steve Ponzo

    I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason
    Eisner Award Winner, Best US Edition of International Material, 2008
    Ignatz Award Nominee for Outstanding Story, 2008

     



    “I just killed Adolf Hitler and I need to get rid of his body.”
    “Adolf Hitler?”
    “Yeah, it’s kind of a long story.”



    I Killed Adolf Hitler takes us to a world populated by deadpan zoomorphic characters, where murder for hire is legal, time travel is possible and a lovelorn hit man is faced with the ultimate assassination assignment.

    Norwegian graphic novelist, Jason, born John Arne Sæterøy, has been publishing comics since the age of 15. With thirteen books published in English through Fantagraphics, Jason is one of the most prolific and unique storytellers of our generation and I Killed Adolf Hitler is his best work to date.




    The premise is simple; a nameless protagonist is hired to travel back in time to Nazi Germany and kill Hitler, and that is when things start to get weird. It’s a story filled with murder, time travel, longing, alcohol and pain. There is a fair amount of standing around waiting for something to happen and, of course, a conceptually complex chronologically challenged love story.

    I Killed Adolf Hitler is told in the cartoonist’s usual minimalist art style complete with simple six-panel pages, blank faced animal-headed characters and a biting dry sense of humor. You wont find cluttered backgrounds or extreme detail in Jason’s work. Instead you get eyes without pupils and mouths made of a single straight line. So how is it that he is able to capture such real emotions? Instead of drawing everything, Jason only draws what’s needed, what’s real and what’s right.


    Another hallmark of Jason’s work is the sparse use of dialogue. Panels are often wordless and allow for his crisp lines and vibrant colors to lead us through the story. Jason makes the most of his little dialogue by filling each sentence with subtle emotion and hysterical deadpan humor. There is no other artist working today that can create so many entertaining moments and complex feelings through simple pantomime. It speaks volumes of Jason’s talent when we can read into the subtleties of a story with so few words present.
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    What is most striking about Jason’s work is the juxtaposition of animal-faced figures in this world filled with a violence that is all too real. This style enables the reader to disconnect from reality and confront their preconceptions of complex themes such as life and death, sexuality and violence. Jason uses the perspective of cartoon-like characters to turn that which is familiar into something new, thus allowing reality to be interpreted in a whole new light.

    By the end of this slim 48-page volume we come to see that this wasn’t really a story about Hitler, hit men or time travel at all. Instead we learn it’s a moving meditation about the mistakes we make and how, no matter what the odds, we can let slide that which doesn’t matter, overcome our pasts and set right the things that are most important to us.



    Also by Jason:

    Hey Wait…
    Sshhhh!
    The Iron Wagon
    Tell Me Something *
    You Can’t Get There From Here *
    Why Are You Doing This?
    Meow, Baby *
    The Left Bank Gang
    The Living and the Dead
    The Last Musketeer
    Pocket Full of Rain
    Low Moon
    Almost Silent (* = reprintings)

     


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