Jam-O-Gram is the latest project of Jam Torkberg, and seems to be an exercise in creativity. The strips are each almost always solitary, and often highlight whatever whimsically strange idea has caught the artist’s mind. For a time, he based each cartoon off a random comment chosen from the day before.
Now, a comic being experimental does not, in and of itself, make it a good comic. As within any other genre of comics, it is the quality of the work itself, not its trappings, that determine its value. On the whole I’ve found Jam-O-Gram to be worth reading more often than not, but the humor can be very hit or miss.
Some days get no more than a shrug from me, others I find clever without really laughing at them – but some definitely get a chuckle or two, and there are ones that I can keep coming back to, and grin every single time. There are days when I find the work to be masterful, and days when I just don’t get it – but in the end, that shouldn’t be unexpected, given that pretty much each comic is trying something new and unusual.
Today’s comic left me with a lot of different things I wanted to talk about.
Aside from the comic itself, Jam mentions himself to be an avid fan of Rejected. Now, it you haven’t seen Rejected, you should go do so. I’ll warn you right now – it’s not for everyone. Some people might just find it puzzling. Others may be actively horrified, disgusted, or traumatized. But I know that the first time I watched it, I found it so horrifyingly amusing that I was in physical pain from laughing too hard.
Rejected is an exercise in… the surreal. In the unusual. Absurd things happen without reason or expectation. Scenes are set-up and perverted – happy laughter going hand in hand with physically disturbing events. Sometimes there is nothing perverse at hand, merely the bizarre – unusual figures screaming out gibberish.
In this case, simply hearing mention of Rejected instantly changed up my view of the comic itself. I couldn’t read it without hearing the character’s screaming out their lines of gibberish in the same wild and vocal tones as are featured in Rejected. Without that, I don’t think I would have found the comic itself actually funny – but visualizing the lines beind said in that fashion, and it actually worked for me.
That said, I don’t believe the words are intended to be gibberish, but rather code. (Or at least, so I must conclude from a cryptic sequence of numbers posted beneath the comic.) Yet for me, I actually prefer the words to be meaningless. It is hardly a gag I want to see everyday – but right now, with this set-up, I like it.
The other thing of note about today’s comic is that it was created entirely with the left hand. If we weren’t told that outright, though, I wouldn’t even have known. Not because the quality of the work is perfect – it isn’t, you can clearly see the result of using the left hand, though it still came out very impressively.
But the reason I didn’t notice was because so much of Jam’s art is fluid and dynamic. I often expect characters to have loose, squiggly lines. Wavering features and strange perspectives works well with the oddities of his strips.
As I mentioned before, this is by and large an experimental strip. Jam tries new and unusual stuff all the time, and I imagine the work he does is more for his own sake then for his audience. This latest experiment, regardless of whether the characters are speaking in code or not, I’d rate as a definite success.