Review of "Jayson Goes to Hollywood" (2008)
by Tony Isabella
Many years ago, reviewing the first collection of Jeff Krell's Jayson, I opined that, "With the right cast and in a better world, Jayson would be a beloved TV sitcom." That hasn't happened yet. However, in Jayson Goes to Hollywood, the title hero and his pal Arena Stage take on Tinseltown in their own wacky fashion.
Jayson and Arena hit the job market, start their own marketing agency, get hired by a friend who makes gay porn, and head to Los Angeles to try to prevent Arena's sister from having a child via their mutual ex-boyfriend, a still-in-the-closet actor. While the book does carry a "mature readers" label, most of the stories would not even earn an "R" rating.
Outside of one misfire that tosses the characters into goofy science fiction territory, Krell's character-driven tales are fun and witty. He's got a great ear for dialogue; you can hear Jayson and the other players speak their lines as you read them.
Krell's art is akin to that in Archie and other classic humor comics of the 1960s. His style is crisp and energetic, easy on the eyes and always in service of his stories.
Jayson Goes to Hollywood confirms my earlier praise for Krell and his characters. It's that better world that's taking too long to get here.
Jayson Goes to Hollywood earns the full five Tonys.
Review of "Jayson: A New Collection" (1997)
by Tony Isabella
My two-short-weeks-shy-of-six-year-old daughter Kelly and I had rented “The Beautician and the Beast” for no other reason than we love Fran Drescher. My nine-year-old son Eddie came into the room during a preview of the upcoming theatrical release, “In and Out,” which is about a soon-to-be-wed small-town teacher who is outed as gay on national television. From the scenes shown, I get the impression he’s not actually gay.
Eddie asked me what “gay” was, which was certainly a question I’d been dying to answer for him. I tried to keep it simple. Some people, I said, are attracted to people of the same sex. It isn’t something they actually choose; it’s a part of them from their birth. I mentioned that I had friends who were gay, but there were a lot of people who didn’t like gays.
Eddie said he was glad he wasn’t gay. I didn’t really have an answer for that, other than it wouldn’t change how I loved him if he were or not. But, silently, I hoped he was right. Our society is neither kind nor just to gays. I don’t think any parent could want his child to have to face the discrimination and hatred that too many gays face every single day of their lives.
Which brings us to the very funny trade paperback collection I’m going to review for you today. It’s called “Jayson: A New Collection” by Jeff Krell (Ignite! Entertainment; $16.95) and it collects Jayson stories and strips from the “Philadelphia Gay News,” “Gay Comix,” “Meatmen” and other publications. Was that one smooth segue or what?
Jayson Callowhill is a gay man searching for happiness in the mostly real comics world of cartoonist Krell. It took me a couple stories to feel comfortable visiting that world – even unfounded prejudices learned at an earlier age are never completely deleted from our memory – but, after that, I had a great time with Jayson, his roommate Arena Stage, pornographer/ entrepreneur Robyn Ricketts, and the other characters who pass though Jayson’s life. By the episode in which Jayson and Arena plan to get married to score a big wedding check from her stepfather – of course, they need money; they were liberal arts majors in college – I was laughing out loud at Krell’s wacky humor. With the right cast and in a better world, “Jayson” would be a beloved television sitcom.
If you can’t find a copy of “Jayson: A New Collection” at your local bookstore, and I figure that’s a distinct possibility, you can order a copy directly from the publisher.