comics star “Jayson” returns in two new anthologies (2005)
have entertained generations of readers by taking a
lighthearted look at gay life in the big city. Title character
Jayson Callowhill doesn’t want much: just a job and a man worth
having. That’s what he left Farmville and moved to Philadelphia to find.
But like many of us, he’s still searching.
At least Jayson has interesting friends.
Arena Stage, his unemployable gal-pal, has taken up residence
in his living room. And Robyn Ricketts, a cross-dressing adult
filmmaker, has set up shop next door. Together they comprise
what might best be described as an “Algonquin card table”
– cracking wise as they struggle to make the rent.
The brainchild of creator Jeff Krell, “Jayson”
began life in 1982 as an occasional feature in the Philadelphia
Gay News but quickly graduated to Gay Comix and the Meatmen
series of gay male cartoon anthologies. A syndicated version
of the strip debuted in 1990. In 1998, Krell collaborated
with songwriters Romanovsky & Phillips on a “Jayson”
musical that enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run.
Now, the best “Jayson” cartoons
from the past two decades have been published in a pair of
“Jayson: Best of the 80s” contains
Krell’s earliest, most groundbreaking work, including
Jayson’s first appearances in the Philadelphia Gay News,
Gay Comix and Meatmen; classic catfights between Arena and
Robyn; and a cliffhanger ending that’ll leave you begging
“Jayson: Best of the 90s” resolves
the cliffhanger and then plunges the cast into a series of
epic adventures involving Sapphic saleswomen, oversexed aliens,
and Jayson’s elusive “dream man.” The syndicated
strip contributes hilarious encounters with gym bunnies, video
dates, and Christian telemarketers.
Whether you’re already a fan
of “Jayson” or just you’re discovering his
unique brand of cynical optimism for the first time, you’ll
treasure these anthologies for years to come. “Jayson:
Best of the 80s” (96 pp.) and “Jayson: Best of
the 90s” (96 pp.) are available in finer bookstores,
comics shops, and on Amazon.com for just $9.95 each.