Hey, Wait… by Jason

Hey, Wait…
by Jason
Fantagraphics, 2001

The first of Norwegian cartoonist Jason’s books to be published in translation, and one of his neatest and most satisfying stories. Jason’s universe is populated by solemn-faced anthropomorphised animals – everyone has the same human body and hands, but an animal head and feet, like Art Spiegelman’s Maus. They inhabit generic European cities and dutifully go about their mundane lives with the occasional intrusion of time-travellers, zombies and other Hammer Horror monsters.

If it were a film, Hey, Wait… would melodramatically labour the childhood tragedy it features, but in a Jason book it’s an understated pivot for the two halves of the story. In the first half, dog-headed Jon’s mundane childhood is brightened by his best friend, rabbit-headed Bjorn. They play ball, dreams of exciting careers like journalism or comic-book writing, and avoid bullies. In the second half, Jon is alone and nearly forty. He moves through daily life as he did as a boy, except his nervous expectations of life has been replaced by frustration, as the limitations of youth have been replaced by the limitations of adult responsibilities, without any blossoming in between. He works as a drill-press operator and has an ex-wife and child he never sees. His workmates talk in the small-print statistics that bored him as a child. And then one day he’s visited by a death-like character he hasn’t seen since he was a boy…

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