Tag Archives: Fantagraphics

Bastard

This month Fantagraphics is publishing the collected English edition of Belgian cartoonist Max de Radiguès’s Bastard. Originally serialized in a zine format, Bastard tells the story of May and her young son Eugene, accomplices in a series of recent robberies, who are desperately traveling across the U.S. while avoiding both the law as well as their double-crossing cohorts.

Crime drama has enjoyed a lasting popularity in entertainment media for decades. The comics industry’s biggest boom, one could argue, was mid-twentieth century detective rags. Seedy subcultures of organized crime make for riveting television. Everyone loves a good heist flick.

One of the things I have found most interesting in much of the crime television that has my attention of late, is the exploration of how criminality affects the family, children’s formative years in particular. On shows like Bloodline, Ozark, and Sneaky Pete, the machinations of the central protagonists often take a back seat to the effect those schemes have on the family members caught up in the act. There’s this notion of confronting our societal desensitization to crime; we love these stories of transgression, these characters who operate outside the law, the thin line that seemingly separates upstanding citizens from fugitives. But how often are we really confronted with what those anxieties do to a family? To children? The Sopranos pokes fun at it; The Wire paints a brutal reality. But neither ever really zeroed in on the kids.


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Jason on the Camino

Jason’s latest graphic novel, unambiguously titled Jason on the Camino, is without a doubt the most personal and, consequently, touching book in the Norwegian cartoonist’s body of work. It’s an autobiographical account of a pilgrimage hike he embarked upon from the French side of the Pyrenees, across northern Spain, to the holy site of Santiago de Compostela. Jason walked the Camino a few years ago, to mark his fiftieth birthday, and the 32-day trek is chronicled here with the master storyteller’s signature mix of deadpan humor, understated emotion, and anthropomorphic characters.

Jason (“John from Norway”) acknowledges that, while every person has his or her own reasons for walking the Camino, other than marking a significant chapter of his life, he’s not entirely sure what his own motivation is. But in those first few pages we get a clear picture of a man who, despite a certain modicum of social anxiety, is prepared to fully immerse himself in an experience rich in all the quiet subtleties of life and, more importantly, one that promises to be enhanced by interacting with other people. One may walk the Camino alone, but the true nature of any pilgrimage is the fact that one person becomes part of many, across time and space, a connection among people from around the globe and throughout the centuries.

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