Jason – John Arne Sæterøy

Jason or John Arne Sæterøy (b. 1965 in Molde) is a Norwegian cartoonist. He got his education from the National School of Art and Design in Oslo and has published a large number of comics and graphic novels. He is today considered as one of Norway´s foremost comic book authors and is also the one who has received the greatest recognition abroad.

Since 2000 Jason has made himself known on the French and US market, with numerous releases. He is now published in 15 countries, among them Poland, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Serbia, Czech Republic, USA, South Korea and all the Nordic countries. His books are published simultaneously in French, Spanish, English and Norwegian.

Jason draws in a cartoony line clear style. He plays with different genres, often with allusions to historical and literary figures like Frida Kahlo, Ernest Hemingway, The Three Musketeers and Frankenstein, or to film actors like Humphrey Bogart.

Jason´s first comic book Lomma full av regn (A Pocket full of Rain) was published in 1995, and was described as social surrealism. Since then Jason has released 20 books, and more are on their way.

Jason´s drawing style links him to parts of the French-Belgian tradition, but this productive comic book author has refined his drawings into a distinctive and highly characteristic graphic style.

He has won numerous awards for his work, including three Eisner Awards, one Harvey Award, Brageprisen, Sproing award and the comic award of Norway´s Ministry of Culture.

His book “I killed Adolf Hitler” has been optioned for a feature film.

Jason is currently living in Montpellier in France.


A Jason character is easily recognized, although he operates with a wide cast of figures. Whether it is James Joyce, Frida Khalo, a zombie or werewolves, they all have in common that they are drawn like animals. In the Jason universe you´ll find dogs, cats, rabbits and birds, with a little too big heads, elongated bodies and white eyes without pupils – or black, if it´s a zombie.

Jason debuted in a realistic black and white style, inspired by cartoonists like Hugo Pratt and Jaime Hernandez. But his simplified, cartoonier style became clearer as more of his stories found their way to an audience.

According to Jason, he was inspired by Hergé, and how that cartoonist drew his early Tintin albums. This concerns both the way his panels are composed and his clear line drawings.

After his first comic book in 1995, Jason started experimenting with a new visual language, and in Mjau Mjau issue 5 (1999) a somewhat strange looking bird figure saw the light of day. It was an iconic figure, easily recognizable, even in silhouette. The key to Jason´s literary universe was created.

Jason considers the use of animals the main development of his comics. – You can tell all kinds of stories using animals, they are more universal, he claims.

Furthermore, the surroundings of his characters are drawn in a minimalist way.

Drawing animal figures isn´t a new invention, but Jason´s drawings stand out by being anything but comical. His graphic novels provide a peculiar touch of humour in spite of the characters’ loneliness, existential anxiety and the absurd Kafka-like situations they operate in.

Jason rarely writes a manuscript before he draws, but rather improvises the story as he works. Recently, he has worked mostly on smaller size books, with a four-panel grid. – If a page consists of many panels it´s harder to edit. If you remove a panel, you must replace it with a new one, he comments.

48 or 64 pages were leading comic book formats of the 80’s and 90’s, especially in France, and Jason´s first albums are in these formats. New standards has opened other opportunities for comic book authors like Jason to write longer stories. “Lost Cat” is probably the longest to date, with 150 pages.

Jason is inspired by art and culture; often pulp fiction and film noir, and likes to put famous characters into new settings. For instance Frida Kahlo has got a new career as an assassin in If You Steal (2015). With her distinctive eyebrows she is unmistakably recognizable. Jason is a fan of her work, and surrealism in general. He especially likes Magritte, and one might see a relationship between Magritte’s lonely hat men and Jason´s hat dressed animals.

Jason has always new books in mind. Whatever he chooses ArtLego make a prophecy; As soon as Jason lifts his hand to draw, the result will have the capacity to become a comic book classic.

Jason (John Arne Sæterøy)

Comic book/Comics

1995Lomma full av regnTEGN A/L Bum
1997 – Mjau mjau 1 – Jippi forlag
1998 – Mjau mjau 1 1/2 – Jippi forlag
1998 – Mjau mjau 2 – Jippi forlag
1999 – Mjau mjau 3 – Jippi forlag
1999 – Mjau mjau 4 – Jippi forlag
1999 – Mjau mjau 5 – Jippi forlag
1999 – Mjau mjau 6 – Jippi forlag
2000 – Mjau mjau 7 – Jippi forlag
2000 – Mjau mjau 8 – Jippi forlag
2000 – Mjau mjau 9 – Jippi forlag
2000 – Schhh! – Jippi forlag
2000 – Mjau mjau 10 – Jippi forlag
2001 – Mjau mjau 11: Jernvognen I – Jippi forlag
2001 – Den hemmelighetsfulle mumie – Jippi forlag
2002 – Mjau mjau 12: Jernvognen II – Jippi forlag
2002 – Untitled – Jippi forlag
2002 – Vent litt… – Schibsted
2003 – Jernvognen – Schibsted
2003 – Si meg en ting – Jippi forlag
2004 – Du går feil vei – Schibsted
2004 – Mitt liv som zombie – Jippi forlag
2005 – La meg vise deg noe – Schibsted
2006 – Hemingway – Schibsted
2006 – Død og Levende – Jippi forlag
2007 – Jeg drepte Hitler – Schibsted
2008 – Den siste musketer – Schibsted
2009 – Low Moon & andre historier – Magikon
2010 – Varulvene i Montpellier – Magikon
2011 – De 100 000 dødes øy – Magikon
2012 – Athos i Amerika – Magikon
2013 – Savnet katt – Magikon
2013 – POP! – Jippi forlag
2015 – Frida Kahlos papegøye – Magikon forlag

1995: Sproingprisen for Lomma full av regn
2000: Sproingprisen for Mjau Mjau 10: Si meg en ting
2000: Urhunden (Sverige) for beste oversatte serie Vänta lite…
2002: Inkpotprisen
2002: Harveyprisen, Best New Talent, for Hey, Wait…
2004: Kulturdepartementets tegneseriepris for Du går feil vei
2005: Brageprisen – Åpen klasse for La meg vise deg noe
2007: Eisnerprisen, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for The Left Bank Gang
2008: Eisnerprisen, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for I Killed Adolf Hitler
2009: Eisnerprisen, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for The Last Musketeer
2014: Visuelts klassikerpris