Sunday, April 10th, 2011 | 10 Comments
Even The Giants
The bleak expanse of the Arctic can get lonely, so it helps to have company – even if it comes in monstrous forms.
Jesse Jacobs’ new book Even The Giants is a story of solitude, wonder, and turbulence, as it follows the adventures of an Arctic giant couple crossing paths with the motley inhabitants of their polar neck of the woods.
Written and drawn by the supernaturally talented Canadian artist Jesse Jacobs, Even The Giants is beautifully minimal in its silent story-telling and its monochrome blue artwork. As the main story is inter-cut by episodes from his trippy existential comic One Million Mouths, Jesse Jacobs balances sharp humor with meditative mood.
Check out our previous interview with Jesse Jacobs.
Even The Giants brings together a generally wild and diverse cast of characters: Inuit hunters, Arctic monsters, snow bunnies, a shipping container stowaway and a clan of bearded mariners. Can you tell us a bit about the characters and what inspired this story?
Jesse Jacobs: Everything in the book is fairly experimental. The process of creating Even the Giants was ultimately an attempt to figure out how to use comics in a way that I was comfortable with.
More than anything else the book is an exploration of isolation. The characters exist by themselves, in a vast landscape of the desolate arctic. Most of the short strips involve a singular voice reacting aggressively to some sort of trespass against them.
All of the characters are pretty insulated and unknowable; even the characters that cohabitate panels demonstrate a kind of solitude. That is why I drew one of the Giants in a lighter tone; I was attempting to illustrate a disconnect between the two characters. I think this theme unconsciously came out of my own experience of moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone, and spending most of my time on a solitary activity.
All of the characters are pretty insulated and unknowable; even the characters that cohabitate panels demonstrate a kind of solitude.
– Jesse Jacobs
All of your books so far have had at least one surprisingly epic/tragic moment. We’re thinking of the climactic death of the circus ring-master in Small Victories and the ending of Blue Winter. Can you tell us (in your opinion) what makes a good story, and about your approach to narrative writing for comics?
Jesse Jacobs: When I was drawing this comic I was interested in tone and mood rather than creating a solid traditional narrative. I enjoy narratives, especially ones that require the reader to do a lot of the work, and have fun trying to write them, but this book wasn’t so much about that as it was an effort to create a kind of feeling.
Through that emerged a loose story, where I brought some of the characters together to arrive at some sort of resolution. I couldn’t help myself but to force a soul shattering tragedy upon the characters, it just seemed to work with the themes.
Your One Million Mouths comics are deftly interspersed between chapters of the Even The Giants. What, to you, are the parallels between these two very different comics that make them work so well together?
Jesse Jacobs: The short strips typically focus on a character’s reaction to some sort of grievance against them, and are charged with a lot of emotion, while the longer narrative attempts to achieve a quiet and desolate tone.
I attempted to weave the two styles together in a sort of contrast. I was aiming to have the two play off of one another in an effort to enhance the mood of each, resulting in the arctic scenes seeming even more muted and the voices of the short strips even louder and more emotional than they would be on their own.
Your previous books Small Victories and Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow were self published making Even The Giants your first book to see general release (published by AdHouse Books). Did you approach the writing of this book differently knowing it would reach a wider audience?
Jesse Jacobs: I didn’t realize the book would be professionally published until after it was finished. I intended to self publish it. I approached Ethan Rilly, who drew the book Pope Hats, about applying for a Xeric grant (as he was awarded one a few years ago).
After he read the book he was kind enough to send it to Chris Pitzer (of AdHouse Books) who offered to put it out. I love self-publishing and will definitely continue to make little minis but getting published is a huge leap forward for me. Not having to worry about production costs or distribution is very helpful.
Anything else we can look forward to from you?
Jesse Jacobs: I feel that I’ve learned a lot from drawing Even the Giants and am really excited about my next comic. It’s starting to come together now and will be released in December 2011.