Jayson Goes To Hollywood

by Jay Laird

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday August 23, 2008

Jayson Goes To Hollywood

Since reviewing (and enjoying) Jeff Krell's previous two collections, "Jayson: Best of the '80s" and "Jayson: Best of the '90s", I've been looking forward to seeing how he'd follow up those retrospectives. I haven't seen any new "Jayson" comics in print this decade, so I wasn't holding my breath for a "Best of the '00s" collection. Jayson Goes to Hollywood fills this spot quite nicely, with 96 pages of new original work and a plot line worthy of a sitcom on Logo.

In "Jayson Goes to Hollywood", Krell continues to keep his characters' lives in step with the current era. Since this collection also marks the 25th "birthday" of Jayson, he'd probably be around 50 years old if the comic updated the characters as well as the setting. However, like so many gay men (at least in my neighborhood!) Jayson manages to somehow stay eternally young, and (unlike in my neighborhood) everyone else follows suit! Krell's simple black-and-white artwork neatly blends the timeless characters with timely background, very much like the look that Dan DeCarlo developed for the "Archie" comics through the 1950s and 1960s and still in use today.

"Jayson Goes to Hollywood" reunites all of the favorites from the 25 years of Jayson cartoons, including his feisty roommate Arena, their mutual ex Eduardo, their neighbor, porn auteur Robyn Ricketts, Jayson's mom Bertha, Arena's sister Meryl, and several others (the naming of whom would spoil plot twists, so I won't). The story begins with Jayson and Arena both unemployed and out of money, leading them to start their own business with Robyn as their first client. From there, they end up in Hollywood on a "research expedition" where their ulterior motives lead to all kinds of trouble. As always, Krell is unafraid to play with genre conventions, effortlessly maneuvering the characters between scenarios involving sex, politics, comedy, and even science fiction.

As with the previous "Best of" collections, this volume contains a number of short comic episodes, although this time the stories add up to one long story; one might go so far as to call it a "mini-epic." However, despite the episodic divisions, Krell ends almost every page with either a good joke or a turn of events that makes you want to read just one more page, until suddenly you've read the whole thing. The story resolves, but the ending suggests a subsequent volume to come. I just hope Jeff Krell doesn't make us wait another three years for it.

Ignite Entertainment, 2008. $12.95 paperback. Available at booksellers everywhere or online through Amazon.

When he's not writing reviews, Jay Laird writes games, comics, and the occasional Z-grade suspense film like "The Strangler's Wife". He is the founder of Metaversal Studios, a Boston-based entertainment company.