Chasing Dogma

Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse (so named for Smith's former production company) is a fascinating series of films, depicting snarky slackers sitting around, talking about pop culture and attempting to do something better with their lives. Each film is worth watching on its own, but together they are even better, as common anecdotes, situations, and characters permeate them all. Two of the most infamous of these links that brings all of the View Askew movies together are the slacker pot dealers Jay and Silent Bob, the one spouting a near constant stream of self-promoting bullshit, the other rarely talking at all (usually about once a movie).

However, except for the less than good "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," these two rarely get the spotlight. Sure, they're main characters in "Dogma," but as the comic relief, not the leads. However, for the real completist, this comic book, "Chasing Dogma" provides an interesting view into the common everyday life of these two losers. 

As can probably be guessed from the title, the comic (written by Smith and drawn by Duncan Fegredo) takes place between the movies "Chasing Amy" and "Dogma," beginning with the two annoying pretty much everyone they know in their hometown in New Jersey. Bob, a fervent watcher of John Hughes movies (much to the annoyance of Jay), inadvertently gives his counterpart an idea of what they can do next: they just need to go find Shermer, Illinois, the town where John Hughes set many of his 1980s teen comedies, and then set up shop there selling pot to high school students. Apparently neither realizes that Shermer is a fictional place so, after the diner scene from "Chasing Amy,"  they get on a bush for Chicago and head for Illinois.

the rest of the book is a weird picaresque adventure, where they encounter all sorts of interesting situations, including cameos by Neil Patrick Harris and Fred Rodgers and what appears to have been a dry-run for the Suzanne subplot for "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." A lot of these are really fun, particularly the cameos by Harris (taking his Doogie Howser fame in an...interesting direction) and Rodgers (completely satirizing his generally friendly portrayal as Mr. Rodgers on the PBS show), which are just off-the-wall amazing. The Suzanne story was fine, with some interesting situations (large swaths of it are parodies of "The Fugitive," for example), but it feels so disconnected from the rest of the story. A bit at the end where Jay and Silent Bob find a down-on-their luck metal band and start telling them how awesome they are is actually kind heart-warming in an odd way, as well as Jay's full-throated defense of gay rights (in his own...unique idiom, of course) near the beginning.

Jay is really our main character here, since Bob pretty much reacts to him rather than asserting his own personality. He's a really odd character as well, as the comic really shows both his best and worst features, focusing on the worst (his total objectification of women, his complete and utter self-centeredness, etc.), and yet somehow he is a likable character, because he is so active and impulsive that you can't help but have the little asshole grow on you.

All in all, if you like the View Askewniverse (and in particular Jay and Silent Bob), you should most definitely check this comic out. If you are totally unfamiliar with Smith's movies, reading this will just confuse you, particularly around the beginning, where the references to Smith's earlier works are peppered about. All in all, it's a worthwhile read, if you can stand Jay long enough of course

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