Werewolves of Montpellier
Written & Illustrated by Jason
Translated by Kim Thompson
Published by Fantagraphics
Ostensibly about a jewel thief who dresses as a werewolf running afoul of real werewolves, Jason’s Werewolves of Montpellier stands out as yet another genre-mashing, hilarious send-up from the superb one-named cartoonist. In truth, while the werewolves’ presence is noteworthy, most of the book is given over to the wry and awkward social interactions of Jason’s protagonist.
Fueled by Jason’s staccato panels (eight panel-grids on every page, without variation) and dry, humdrum-of-life pacing, Werewolves of Montpellier revels in examining the routines of Sven, the book’s erstwhile hero. Whether it’s debating with a friend what parts of women to stare at or engaging in awkward dates with girls who realize he’s in love with another woman, Sven’s interactions are clumsy and forced, but intentionally and entertainingly so.
The all-too-human awkwardness and confusion grabs the reader, creating discomfort and laughter as Sven muddles through parties, preparing for dates, and asking friends for firearms (to protect himself from the werewolves, of course!). Jason’s knack for dialogue sells every exchange, and he keeps the narrative suitably short to prevent the gag from ever getting old.
Jason’s minimally designed, anthropomorphic characters attain a universality that makes them easy for readers to cast themselves on. You recognize yourself in them, their actions, their indecisiveness, their melancholy and their dreams, and respond accordingly. The simple lines leave the characters open and appealing, and the strict grid moves the story irresistibly forward.
Werewolves of Montpellier stands out as another winner from Jason; in fact, perhaps it is one of his finest books yet. Somber and funny, and packed full of werewolves and romance, jewel heists and parties, Werewolves of Montpellier stands as another reason to make sure you’re reading Jason’s comics. If you’re not, you’re missing out.