You never know what you’re going to find at Jim Hanley’s Universe, the comic book store on 33th street with one of the best selections of European graphic novels in the city. Yesterday, I picked up a book by a Belgian artist who simply goes by Jason. The Left Bank Gang reimagines Paris in the 20s as a haven for expat comic book writers in the shape of animals. Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Getrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound et al. get drunk, make plans for Pamplona, struggle with poverty and obnoxious tourists and discuss the finer points of narrative captions and where do all the erasers go? It’s very funny and endearing, and then the story spins into a fragmented noir. I’ll be looking for more of Jason’s deceptively simple work the next time I’m midtown. You can browse a few pages here.

Jason. The Left Bank Gang. Fantagraphics, 2006. ****