Werewolf Jones & Sons® Deluxe Summer Fun Annual!

Written and Drawn by: Simon Hanselmann and Josh Pettinger
With: HTMLFlowers
Additional Colors: Nate Garcia
Publisher: Fantagraphics

In the Werewolf Jones & Sons® Deluxe Summer Fun Annual!, the Megg, Mogg, & Owl series gets another supplementary expansion. While closely related to the preceding entry in the series, Below Ambition, which foregrounded the creative partnership (and associated personal relationship) between Jones and Megg, culminating with a story focused on the latter character. 

But in Werewolf Jones & Sons®, the aperture instead closes around Jones and his children, Jaxon and Diesel (and Verjonika). By juggling the perspective between the first three characters, the graphic novel affords a complex portrait of the inner dynamics of the deeply dysfunctional family. However, in keeping with the broader empathetic ethos of the MM&O series, each character (including the inexcusably negligent patriarch) is depicted as a multi-dimensional individual trapped in a complex situation.

Jaxon and Diesel in the Multiverse of (Actual) Madness

Initially introduced through the perspective of Megg, Mogg, & Owl, the children of Jones, Jaxon and Diesel, could at first be dismissed as tiny chaotic whirlwinds. For example, in the story “Boston Clanger,” collected in One More Year, the duo performs the titular act upon Owl’s bed whilst chanting, “Poop Poop Poop!”

But in Crisis Zone, the Eisner-winning masterpiece Hanselmann posted on a near-daily basis between March and December 2020, the perspectives of Jaxon and Diesel became more available to the reader. This included self-actualization character arcs for both children.

Jaxon, tired of putting up with the negligence and abuse to which he is subjected, releases himself from his familiar obligations, achieves self-sufficiency as he begins working at Mcdonald’s, and claims the name “Jack” for himself. Meanwhile, Diesel comes out as trans and claims the name “Desi,” eventually leaving herself (only to be thrown out of a trans sharehouse situation, causing her to admit to herself that at her core, she’s “an antagonistic shit-stirrer first and foremost.”

However, Crisis Zone takes place on a different timeline than Werewolf Jones & Sons®. Knowing how the characters develop in this other world creates a fascinating perspective on the two children as they attempt to navigate the nightmarish events to which they are subjected in Werewolf Jones & Sons®.

August 2018/August 2023

And the events to which they are subjected are indeed nightmarish. In the story “Life During Wartime,” Jaxon knocking over a beer spurs Jones to carry out a plane hijacking that culminates in a firey island crash (recreating an actual Seattle event that transpired on August 10th, 2018 – summer fun, indeed).

Jones could easily be painted as the antagonist, especially considering the way he treats his children. But scenes depicting his unhealthy and abusive relationship with baby mama Susan further complicate the reader’s perspective on the substance-abusing agent of chaos.

Werewolf Jones & Sons® Deluxe Summer Fun Annual!

As will all of the books in the MM&O series, the presentation of Werewolf Jones & Sons® is unimpeachable. This is a high-quality hardcover with a nice reversible dust jacket that affords you both a Hanselmann and a Pettinger cover. Furthermore, it comes with all the trappings that regular readers of the series have come to expect, like an informative table of contents and detailed art featuring the characters before and after the bulk of the narrative (again split between Hanselmann and Pettinger).

While Werewolf Jones & Sons® runs to only 100 pages (if you’re counting the endpapers, which you should, because they afford some very nice art), this is suited to the “Annual” format which it adopts. Considering that Annuals are typically comprised of reprinted material with some new supplementary additions, the adoption functions on multiple levels.

Synthesizing Werewolf Jones & Sons® into this “Annual” format makes this another unique entry in the MM&O series, which continues to be served well by adopting, integrating, and warping the practices of other comics (and pop culture media in general). Combining interesting techniques with unflinching empathy, Werewolf Jones & Sons® proves to be yet another worthy entry in this unique and essential series.

The Werewolf Jones & Sons® Deluxe Summer Fun Annual! is available now.

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