Sam Ombiri with reflections on John’s Worth #3 by Jon Chandler!
Sam Ombiri here: As I impatiently wait for Jon Chandler’s John’s Worth issue 4, I wonder to myself what caused him to make these kinds of comics; these comics that go in certain specific directions? These comics really hit in a way that’s tough to articulate. I heard that the first issue, at least, was made with the idea of the first mark being the final mark. There’s the feeling that Jon has put himself at risk with each drawing, and that he has to think quickly, on his feet, to solve any design issues that arise. Of course, in comics there’s always an element of improv – whether it’s early in the process or late. With John’s Worth it feels late in the process.
I especially want to talk about the 3rd issue – there’s something special about issue 3. John calls himself “Jack” in this issue so as to be able to do his job with anonymity. There’s no direct reference to the sPeX unit in this issue. The sPeX unit is this Borroughs-esque/Cronenberg-esque creature that is a living organism, but also a drug; or rather, who knows what it is. The characters only refer to sPeX as a drug, seemingly because they have no idea what else to refer to it as.
Jon, as the author, isn’t in a rush to comment on anything and specify what’s what. Make no mistake – it’s not out of laziness. Rather, it’s something like CF said – “Imagine inviting someone over and taking their coat, then offering them snacks, then getting them a drink, then putting a blanket on them and putting their feet up for them and asking them if they’re comfortable, then telling them where the towels are and so on. By trying so hard to be a good host, you become the worst host ever.”
Jon isn’t overbearing on any of the concepts at play within the work, but there’s a real precise construct going on in the work, and there’s nowhere it’s more apparent than in the 3rd issue. For example, there’s a gun that was introduced at the beginning of the story, when “Mary” and “Larry” thought that John (whom they were approaching) might be a threat. Later on, a lot of time has passed since they realized that John was the person they were supposed to complete their job with. So then, while they’re just relaxing and unwinding,, the story simultaneously unwinds, and it’s signified simply by the gun being on the floor. The gun speaks to how, for the time being, they have no care in the world.
The fact that there is a construct present convinces me that this environment I’m in is real. If there’s disorientation, then the disorientation is real, because there’s a rhythm to latch onto. John’s hallucinations in issue 3 are really tame. I found that if I blinked twice I could miss whatever effect the sPeX unit was having on John, but the effect of the sPeX unit is felt more as a result. If the story was a rollercoaster, I get the sense that the rollercoaster is stopping briefly, after it had been climbing so that it could drop. So this leisure is utilized for us to get a sense of potential participants of the next issue, and we learn about John himself a bit.
I’m really dissatisfied with suggesting that these moments of leisure are nothing but a stepping stone for something else. I’ve noticed a certain attitude that’s especially prominent among people who watch all the popular anime and read the popular manga – a complete lack of gratitude. Readers will look at great moments of a chapter or episode or whatever, as something to just set up something else which will happen down the line. They don’t revel in what they’ve been given thus far, despite how generous the creator has been. I guess this attitude is in the alt comics community too; always looking at what comics could be, completely forsaking what they are now. I really wouldn’t want to devalue that marvelous knife throwing scene especially, as it’s a worthwhile read.
Do yourself a favor and read all of the John’s Worth comics. – Sam Ombiri
Joanie and Jordie – 6-7-18 – by Caleb Orecchio