By Jason Karlson
Each and every single one of Ian Jay’s comic creations sounds like one of the greatest film that was never made, ever. The descriptions of each read like the fevered elevator pitch of some fresh-faced starry-eyed youngster who has grown up on a diet of the trashiest entertainment, 90’s nostalgia and a deep love of forgotten films. Comic worlds inhabited by gun totting robots, gangster piloted mechs and laser-firing wolves partnered with grizzled FBI agents, all armed with the perfect action movie one liners. You are kidding yourself if you didn’t want to see a hulking supernatural fluorescent rat declaring “I couldn’t free your minds. But I can free your teeth!”
Jay is a graduate from Savannah College of Arts and Design (with a B.F.A. in Sequential Art and a minor in Story boarding, in case you were wondering) who has been producing comics online since 2005. Ranging from self published mini comics to webcomics, including the bittersweet story of loss, Bunny, or the hilarious tale of obsession, Space Jam Man. Epiphany, his tale of religion, responsibility and errant slacker gods, started out as a webcomic in 2008, becoming Jay’s longest running comic and eventually coming to an end in 2013 with a successful Kickstarter campaign which resulted in a print version of its entire run.
Returning to the world of web comics, Crossed Wires began in May this year with the first forty-five pages introducing us to Alan Winters, a geeky student by day and elite hacker by night who travels the online world under the super cool alias of ‘Ultra Drakken’ complete with a katana-welding dragon avatar. From page one Crossed Wires jacks itself into the cyberpunk tradition drawing strong inspiration from writer William Gibson and influences from the criminally underrated 90’s “classic”, Hackers. It’s a comic that should give a little bit of a nostalgic smile to the faces of those who recall a (slightly) more innocent time when people used the term “cyberspace” frequently and un-ironically. Hacking and database cracking are visualised by frenetic samurai sword fights and shoot outs, juxtaposed with more down to earth scenes of our ‘hero’ and his ramman chugging gamer entourage.
Like the rest of his comic work, Jay’s Crossed Wires is characterized by bold lines, animated figures, playful monochromatic pop art colouring and smartly-paced action scenes, this time firmly entrenched in the visual language of video games. Alex holds an everyday conversation about a mysterious girl at his college while battling through a first person shooter environment, complete with respawning and power up graphics, while others are set in vast kitch cyber landscapes. With superb art, retro futuristic stylings and lovable slacker characters, now is the perfect time to delve in to the first forty five pages of Crossed Wires.
We known only two things for certain of Jason Kalson; that he was born on the wagon of a traveling show to Latverian parents, and that tales of his orgins are wholly fictional. His writing style is pithy and insightful, with hints of oak and red berry, finished with earthy tones and somber notes. If he were to describe himself in a single word it would likely be self-deprecating.