Strange Tales

Strange Tales Spotlight: Jason

Norway’s master cartoonist tackles Spider-Man and nominates his personal Marvel masterpieces.

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To celebrate the upcoming release of Marvel's groundbreaking series STRANGE TALES, in which some of the brightest stars of alternative and indie comics present their takes on the Marvel Universe, Marvel.com will be showcasing the contributors in an expansive series of exclusive interviews. And don't forget to pick up STRANGE TALES #1, on sale September 2!

 

by Sean T. Collins

A page from Jason's contribution to STRANGE TALES #1
Pulse-pounding Hitchcockian thrillers, hilarious pop-culture parodies, thought-provoking existentialist dramas, slapstick silent gag strips: He may use only one name, but Norwegian writer-artist Jason is a master of many different comics genres. And oh yeah—he does it all using anthropomorphized versions of, in the immortal words of "The Muppets Take Manhattan," "dogs and bears and chickens and things." So will his take on Spider-Man in the pages of Marvel's STRANGE TALES be more Maus than Spider-Ham? Taking a brief break from churning out series of killer collections for Fantagraphics—the latest of which, Low Moon, includes a two-fisted tale of chess in the Old West that originally ran in The New York Times—Jason spoke to Marvel.com to give us the answer.

Marvel.com: You contributed a Spider-Man story...

Jason: Yes, it's about Peter Parker worrying about never having been in a barfight.

Marvel.com: He's been in plenty of other fights, though! What appeals to you about Spidey?

Jason: I guess what I liked about Spider-Man is that he wasn't just a super hero, he was a high-school kid with everyday problems, and I could relate to that, being a teenager myself at that time.

A page from Jason's contribution to STRANGE TALES #1
Marvel.com: In your work, you've used a lot of characters from pop culture and genre entertainment: Darth Vader, the Terminator, monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein...when you were thinking of an idea for this project, was your thought process similar to when you've worked with such characters in the past?

Jason: Not really. When I've earlier used Dracula and Terminator in comics, it was to put these pop-culture figures in an everyday situation for comedic effect, like Darth Vader trying to rent a video. The Spider-Man in my story is pretty much the same super hero he is in the Marvel comics.

Marvel.com: I'm curious: Do you see Spider-Man in the same kind of light as you see the hero of your book The Last Musketeer? They both represent a heroic ideal, but there's a contrast between their images as heroes and the circumstances they find themselves in, where heroism can't always get them anywhere...

Jason: I guess so. With The Last Musketeer I took it further, though, making him quite out of touch with reality, something that makes him both a bit pathetic and endearing at the same time. With the Spider-Man story I pretty much followed the Stan Lee formula of him being a super hero but a screw-up as a private person.

Marvel.com: What do you bring to the table as a writer and artist that's different from what Marvel fans might be used to seeing?

Jason: I'm not sure. Spider-Man being a dog? [Laughs]

Marvel.com: What's the first Marvel comic you remember reading? What are your faves?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #170 by Ross Andru
Jason: The first Marvel comic must be a Norwegian translation of Spider-Man. In Norway they published the Ross Andru issues first, then John Romita and then finally the Ditko issues. I still have a nostalgic relation to the Ross Andru issues—they were my favorites. I enjoyed the SHANG CHI, MASTER OF KUNG FU issues by Paul Gulacy. CAPTAIN AMERICA and NICK FURY by Steranko. And also DAREDEVIL by Frank Miller—the "Born Again" storyline by Miller and Mazzucchelli might be my all-time favorite, and the DAREDEVIL one-shot Miller and Sienkiewicz did, that was pretty good.

Marvel.com: Any other Marvel heroes or villains you'd like to tackle someday?

Jason: I don't know. Nightcrawler, maybe? But I think I got the super hero stuff out of my system doing the Spider-Man story.

Marvel.com: For those fans out there who don't know your stuff, what do you recommend if they'd like to see more of your work?

Jason: I guess the latest book, Low Moon, is a good place to start. Or the first one, Hey, Wait...

Marvel.com: What else are you working on these days?

Jason: I just finished the next book—a werewolf story called Werewolves of Montpellier. It should hopefully be out in English next summer.

 

Check out Jason's Spider-Man story in STRANGE TALES #1, on sale September 2!

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