It's impossible not to love Jason's hapless cartoon characters; they're dog-faced descendants of Charlie Chaplin in that way, usually placed into situations far beyond their control or understanding. Much of the cartoonist's early work consists of silent comedies, like Chaplin's old-fashioned theatrical shorts, and he's not afraid to punch up the slapstick for an easy laugh. The five stories that make up Low Moon, Jason's newest collection of comics, hark back to the classic golden age of film: One story is a western, another is a noir, a third is a sci-fi romp complete with flying saucers and aliens that could easily be men sweating away in molded rubber suits.
Each story reverberates with the little eccentricities that Jason has built a career on (instead of gunfights, the cowboys in the title story battle over long games of chess). Remarkably, none of them seem over-the-top or manipulative. Due primarily to some confusing passages involving the flow of time (Jason still has a hard time representing flashbacks in his world of simple, equally shaped panels), Low Moon doesn't stand as one of his greatest works or a useful introduction to his style—for that, the earlier Fantagraphics books Sshhhh! and The Left Bank Gang are ideal—but fans of Jason's work will find a satisfying gallery of stories to tide them over until the next one comes along.
Low Moon launch party with Jason at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, Sat June 13, 6 pm, free.