Even The Giants is the comics debut of Canadian Jesse Jacobs, a gallery artist, t-shirt and skateboard designer who goes for walks in the woods with his little dog when the loneliness of the drawing board gets too much. Perhaps this was the inspiration for the opening scene of the book – a heavily-jacketed Weeble-esque Eskimo and his impossibly furry husky, together and alone in an Arctic expanse of blue-white snow.
Given that Jacobs’ background is in the graphic arts, it’s little wonder the book is more of an experimental, emotive work than a straightforward narrative. It’s a strange anomaly on the new release shelf, much like Renée French’s masterpiece The Ticking was – only this is less deformed-mutant-based and more on a par with a surreal children’s book. It reads in a decompressed way; there’s a palpable feeling of stasis and quiet reflection. I would happily waste a sunny afternoon in a room lined with these beautiful panels and the transition from book to wall would be so seamless you’d hardly see the join.
Even The Giants is about solitude and loneliness. Set in the bleak Arctic ice you could only get more isolated if you boarded a rocketship on a solo mission to the Moon. Two colossal entities move like
ants Ents among the glaciers – together but apart – eating Eskimos and their yapping dogs while the pink intestines of gutted seals contrast starkly with the muted blue monochrome art (or at least they did on the pdf preview – in the printed book they are grey-blue for reasons this reviewer is not privy to, though I hope it’s not deliberate). It’s a book about being in love and being lonely, about being stranded and helpless and finding warmth in the coldest of Arctic places, where even the giants get the blues.
It’s a totally silent book (barring the dog’s joyous bark and the giant’s curious sniff) interrupted every few pages by relatively sophomore existentialist one-pagers from Jacobs’ One Million Mouths series. “Your problem? You’ve never seen Waterworld or Twelve Monkeys… The future has arrived and you are totally unprepared.” I liked the occasional one or two – The Path To Heaven is Paved With Poor Poetry sticks in my mind – but for the most part I found them an unnecessary interjection, made all the louder by the quiet hum of the main feature. It’s a slim volume, this, and it feels as though they were included in the book in an effort to beef it up, as if somebody thought the narrative in itself was lacking something, or the whimsy was in need of a sturdier spine. I thought I didn’t like it, the book, and began to write an unfavorable review of the whole thing before I stopped and read it a second time, skipping those pieces entirely – that book, the abridged one, was exquisite. It breaks your heart and warms it all in one stop-motion avalanche.
It’s simple, sweet and a fine debut from an artist who makes beautiful and strange art that is instantly recognizable as his own. But like two people making stilted conversation in an elevator – One Million Mouths and Even The Giants would probably be happier alone.