Jarod Rosello – trapped cats, comic shop fights, undersea accountancy and a very well-dressed bear.

Published On May 25, 2010 | By | Best of the Year 2008, Comics, Reviews

The Spirit: In Contention,
Saving Carlos,
Franz Kafka’s Poseidon,
The Well-Dressed Bear Will Develop Intimacy Issues Later In Life.

4 comics by Jarod Rosello

Self Published

Another discovery through anthology titles this. Rosello’s quick strip in the recent Gin Palace anthology was enough to make me get in touch with him to see what else he had available. All four books are good and there’s one here that’s probably going to make it onto the end of year list.

Rosello’s work looks at people (and Gods and cats and bears) all doing those small, insignificant things that make up everyone’s daily life. But he does it with a good dose of surreal, often quite painful humour, and always perfectly underplays the ridiculousness of his situations and characters.

And he’s got a great range to go along with the talent – the subjects include a trapped cat, a buyers confrontation in a comic shop, the God of the Seas doing his paperwork and a sartorially obsessed and depressed bear.

Starting with the least surreal of the bunch; The Spirit: In Contention. Sixteen pages set around a comic shop find of a copy of Spirit #2 and the subsequent struggle over ownership between two comic fans.

We’ll all be able to empathise – who hasn’t been caught in that difficult moment of wanting to argue over something trivial yet somehow hugely important to you? The calm, controlled, faintly ridiculous bargaining masks a simmering rage, as the passive-aggressive leads go into verbal battle against each other over what constitutes the right to purchase the comic.

(Two pages from Saving Carlos by Jarod Rosello – perfect little bits of surreal and laconic comedy)

Next the simplest and silliest of the lot; Saving Carlos. Where a cat gets it’s tail trapped in railings and we follow the futile attempts of boy, monster and really dumb superhero (Beardman) to free the tail in question. It might be a marauding sydicate of evil Lemurs to blame, or it might be just the sort of stupid thing cats do all the time. We never find out, but we do get some great pages/panels (one per page) of art and some cracking comedy as the incompetent rescuers really do make far too big a deal over something rather simply fixed.

“Careful! Lemurs are vicious, hideous animals”
“You’re thinking of a giant squid.”
“Yes! What did I say?”

There are lovely, surreal non sequitur gags throughout Carlos and the out and out silly comedy contrasts with the laconic and near sarcastic cat (all done, as is a cat’s want, with a completely fixed expression) through it’s pages.

And if you’re after literary adaptations, then Rosello has those as well – Franz Kafka’s Poseidon adapts the ridiculously short story of the God Of The Sea doing a little paperwork and book-keeping whilst having a good old moan about his existence.

Rosello keeps the focus tightly on Poseidon on nearly every panel, letting him rail, futilely and pathetically against his circumstances, whilst Rosello adds a little extra action in the background that I don’t recall from the original with a diving suited cat and a fish have a bit of a scrap behind monologuing Poseidon.

Very silly perhaps, but also a ridiculously entertaining short comic.

The Well-Dressed Bear Will Develop Intimacy Issues Later In Life.

I enjoyed all of Rosello’s comics, but this was the one that really rather stole my heart away. Who would have thought 28 pages that are more illustrated prose than comics would be so lovely, sad and enjoyable? Like all of Rosello’s comics, it’s simple to summarise; it’s all about a Bear who’s trying to live as a human, complete with all the hang-ups that entails. But within the pages there’s a wonderfully sad little tale.

Each double page of text and comic panels is delightfully spare, full of white space and serves to emphasize the poor Well-Dressed Bear’s feelings of isolation and low self-esteem.

Against the backdrop of Well-Dressed Bear getting ready for yet another blind date (his 15th) we veer off on various tangential aspects of his life; the jogging, the moisturising, his objection to the Red Cross (animal experiments), brown argyle pattern jumpers and much more, all delivered with a combination punch of funny, poignant and rather pathetically sad.

Rosello’s Well-Dressed Bear is a comic of deceptive simplicity that disguises a marvellously subdued and low-key comedic delight full of loneliness and anxiety issues.

You can get hold of Rosello’s work via his Etsy store. It may cost a bit more due to shipping from the States, but it’s worth every penny. Four great comics and, in The Well-Dressed Bear I think I’ve already found one of my favourites of the year.

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3 Responses to Jarod Rosello – trapped cats, comic shop fights, undersea accountancy and a very well-dressed bear.

  1. Pingback: Jarod Rosello » Blog Archive » Forbidden Planet International Reviews

  2. Jarod says:

    Thanks for the great reviews, Richard. I guess it’s about time to finally draw that second Well-dressed Bear story!

  3. Matt Badham says:

    Must buy some of these. Cheers for the review, Richard. Interesting stuff.