Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Time and space died yesterday."
What a fabulous opening line that is...
For some reason we let this slide off our shelves the first time we had it in, but Jesse SAFARI HONEYMOON / CRAWL SPACE Jacobs' first work is back treading the proverbial Page 45 boards and what a visionary piece it is. Have some publisher blurb to elucidate slightly whilst I prepare myself to attempt a review of it...
"Witness the limitless ambitions of celestial beings as they fiddle and fuss with all sorts of molecular arrangements, creating infinitely detailed patterns and strange new worlds brimming with bizarre life forms. By This Shall You Know Him depicts all manner of beasts running, crawling, and slithering towards death's cold embrace."
The phrase limitless ambitions could, and does, equally apply to Jess Jacobs. Particularly in the sense that he is clearly creating exactly the sort of comics he wants to make. He's not doing it to appeal to the masses, or even to appeal to a particular audience, I suspect. He just wants to make his comics.
In that sense, he's amongst a coterie that in addition to unashamedly ploughing their own artistic furrough are also lovers of symmetry, design and motif, not to mention a dash or two of the surreal. The likes of Theo UNDERSTANDING MONSTER Ellsworth, Ron WHAT PARSIFAL SAW Rege. Jr, Jim POOCHYTOWN Woodring, Marc DRAWN & QUARTERLY: 25 YEARS OF CONTEMPORARY CARTOONING Bell and Box AN ENTITY OBSERVES ALL THINGS Brown.
Here Jesse has us observing a group of near-omnipotent beings playing with creating new lifeforms. Their master, the Adviser, is encouraging them to go silicon-based but one of their number, Ablavar, is obsessed with the "substandard building material" carbon, much to the disgust of Ablavar's rival, the magniloquent Zantek.
Consequently Zantek can't help himself from messing around with Ablavar's work, which has some far-reaching implications for his creation. A version of a particular creation you might well recognise... and perhaps some of its associated characters and mythology.
As with his other works, the intricate patterns Jesse creates have a mesmerising mandala-like hypnotic effect in places. I'm pretty sure he was probably obsessed with mazes too as a kid. There's also a two-page, sixteen-panel-per-page sequence where he is just zooming in on one of the Adviser's mini-creations where I found myself analysing each panel, observing precisely how the geometrical transaction between each panel occurred. Fascinatingly intense work.
As with all his material, there are some comedically dark undertones warping the direction of the story, which occasionally erupts into mildly overt slapstick. But above all, it's simply incredibly well structured psychedelic story-telling. I greatly admire his ability to tell such coherent if utterly surreal stories employing such a mind-bending art style. A true comics talent, our Jesse, in my literally dazzled eyes.