Comics Time: I Killed Adolf Hitler

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I Killed Adolf Hitler

Fantagraphics, October 2007

Jason, writer/artist

48 pages

$12.95

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There’s a bunch of different ways I could start talking about I Killed Adolf Hitler. For instance, there’s the fact that it opens with a woman pretending to masturbate in explicit detail while her boyfriend murders someone, which is pretty rough trade for a Jason book. Then there’s the fact that when I think about it, many, maybe even most, of Jason’s books are kind of non-stop bloodletting–but I had to stop and think about it because the effect is so muted. There’s the almost outrageously lovely use of color–glacial blues to suggest dawn and twilight, hues used to suggest depth and three-dimensionality as well as I’ve ever seen it done. There’s the fact that this book contains enough great ideas for several different graphic novels: hitman as legal profession; hiring a hitman to kill Hitler; time-traveling to do so; getting stuck back in time and having to age through the intervening decades to get back to the present; all the attendant relationship issues. Ultimately I think the fact that this slim volume contains so many facets shouting at me to be listed first is what makes Jason’s work so powerful: Beneath his taciturn, clean-line, surface-cute animal-people world is just a seething cauldron of repressed anguish and emotion. Up from it bubbles the worldview that even if figures of singular evil like Adolf Hitler were erased from history, life would be just as shitty, if not shittier, than it is now, and that the only way to really make peace with the world and oneself is for one’s hand to be forced by decades of accrued regret. With this unfettered imagination and perversely warm nihilism, Jason comes across like a comic-book Kurt Vonnegut, but more focused, sophisticated, reserved, chilling. Each new book is like a paragraph in humanity’s compulsively readable collective suicide note.