Jason Shiga


Do yourself a favor and check out Jason Shiga's Meanwhile.

It’s a great Choose Your Own Adventure book using panels instead of the entire page, resulting in 3,856 story possibilities. It’s maddening and insanely fun.

If you can’t find the book, there is an iPad app, which works really well!

"Meanwhile" begins as our young hero in dire need of a bathroom, knocks on the door of a mysterious recluse. His mansion is in fact a wonderous laboratory filled with amazing inventions: A mind reading helmet, a doomsday device and a time travel machine (although it can only go back ten minutes).

Which invention will young Jimmy play with? YOU, the reader get to decide in my branchiest and most complex interactive comic to date. “Meanwhile” works via a network of tubes connecting each panel to the next. Sometimes these tubes split in two giving the readers a choice of which path they would like to follow. Sometimes these tubes even lead off the page and onto tabs sticking out from other parts of the book.


I am a big fan of Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile.

It’s a mistake to go into this book thinking it’s a “chose your own adventure” book. This book is a puzzle. There is a complete picture, a complete understanding of the world, that you can put together, and what you are doing is exploring this world by making choices. If you’re expecting an adventure you might get a little frustrated when you find yourself looped back in the story and rereading a scene. Keep investigating. Solve the mystery. I was obsessive with this book. It took me about a week, but I went through the whole thing, and I will say that the ultimate revelation of the world of Meanwhile is epic and even disturbing. After you know what this story is about, even going back to the beginning and choosing vanilla instead of chocolate ice cream turns out to be a kind of disturbing ending. I think this is truly an important comic book. 
Zach Hazard Vaupen's Top 5 Favorite Online Comics of 2014

I’ve read a lot of comics this year, both in print and online. I might do a top 5 print comics list later on, but I’ve read many more comics on paper and it will be more difficult to condense all I’ve read into a Top 5 or even Top 10.  I don’t love reading comics online, but there’s a lot of good work that hasn’t made it to print yet or will can only exist online that would be a shame to miss. So without further rambling, here are the 5 online comics I enjoyed the most this year (in no particular order):

1. On Hiatus by Pete Toms (read here)

Not only is this one of my favorite comics this year (online or otherwise), this is one of my favorite comics of all time. This has some of Pete’s best artwork to date, not to mention the writing is funny, exciting, and poignant. Pete Tom’s is kind of like the Charlie Kaufman of comics and also kind of like the David Lynch of Charlie Kaufmans. On Hiatus is a comic about what it means to be washed up and whether there’s a line between being an artist, an entertainer, or something more.  This comic was really summed up for me in a monologue in Part 2 about God as a has-been. Pete is doing work that is propelling the comics medium forward and On Hiatus holds its own as both a piece of art and a piece of entertainment. I hope this comic is released in print some day because I’d love to have it on display in my home.

2. When The Darkness Presses by Emily Carroll (read here)

This is what I’m talking about when I talk about a comic that can only exist online. Emily Carroll is probably a “duh” person to mention, everyone knows and loves her stuff, but it’s for good reason! This comic really pushes the online format. It jumps back and forth between a standard webcomic layout for day scenes, complete with fake banner ads Carroll designed herself that later become subverted by impending horror, and night scenes that are hazy and happen over a solid black page background. It all works together to become another very creepy comic that Carroll is renowned for. A short but sweet (or sour) comic that should be experienced by all.

3. Demon by Jason Shiga (read here)

Demon really took me by surprise. Or rather, Jason Shiga took me by surprise. I only discovered his work this year and I find it all very exciting. This guy is a great storyteller. This comic updates daily M-F and I check it every day reading only 1 page at a time. That’s how exciting this story is. I think Shiga’s comics are best experienced going into them knowing nothing, but I will say that I highly recommend this comic to fans of Death Note. 

4. Actual Trouble by Michael DeForge (read here)

DeForge makes so many comics and they’re all great. He also puts a generous amount of his work online. This isn’t my favorite comic of his this year but it is my favorite comic of his that he serialized online this year. This isn’t exactly a comic per se, more of an illustrated short story, but I’m still counting it. The art and colors are great and the story is another classic DeForge bizzare love story. Read this comic, and then go read the rest of his comics online and then buy Lose 6 and then subscribe to his Patreon to get even more comics!

5. Thunderpaw by Jen (read here)

Last but not least is Thunderpaw. This comic is beautiful with so much animation and work put into it. It’s trippy, funny, manic, paranoid, everything you could want in a comic about 2 young dog people. Jen’s been working on this for a while but has been posting a lot more lately. Go read it and support her patreon so she can make more! 

There you have it! If you read any great comics online this year, reblog and add to the list. I’d love to see what everyone else is reading.

Empire State by Jason Shiga.

For those who have the Empire State hardcover, Shiga hid a secret message in the end pages of the book. I would’ve never known about it unless Gene Luen Yang hinted about it on his site.

Even then, it look me about 45 minutes to find it.

When I saw Shiga at a signing at Meltdown Comics, apparently I was the first person who was not his friend to find it.

If you find it and message me what it says, I’ll tell you the rest of the story :)

Jimmy is a stereotypical geek who works at the library in Oakland, California, and is trapped in his own torpidity. Sara is his best friend, but she wants to get a life (translation: an apartment in Brooklyn and a publishing internship). When Sara moves to New York City, Jimmy is rattled. Then lonely. Then desperate. He screws up his courage, writes Sara a letter about his true feelings, and asks her to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building (a nod to their ongoing debate about Sleepless in Seattle). 

Jimmy’s cross-country bus trip to Manhattan is as hapless and funny as Jimmy himself. When he arrives in the city he’s thought of as “a festering hellhole,” he’s surprised by how exciting he finds New York, and how heartbreaking—he discovers Sara has a boyfriend! 

Jason Shiga’s bold visual storytelling, sly pokes at popular culture, and subtle text work together seamlessly in Empire State, creating a quirky graphic novel comedy about the vagaries of love and friendship.

I feel webcomics caters to the stuff young people are into like video games, dating and breakups, friendship and ninjas. But it ignores the stuff that occupy the lives of older people like the unending dreary monotony of parenthood, suicide fantasies, existential dread and slowly watching all your friends and family wither away and die.
—  Jason Shiga (from here)

Meanwhile: A Quantum Hypertext Comics

1) Quantum Comics

- Flip the coin. / Now, according to the Multiple Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, the universe just split the two. In one universe, the coin landed on heads. In the other, tails. / Now flip it again, but this time, keep the results covered.
- So the universe just split again?
- Not yet. The split doesn’t occur until we actually observe the parity of the coin

As the doctor said, there are two different paths already drawn in the book. However, it is when the reader chooses the path (panel) that the story is actually read and so exists. Before the reader chooses the panel, the story is not yet made. The reader participates in creating the story, just as the observation changes the result in quantum mechanics.

Simultaneously, the story we did not choose is drawn by the author, but it is not read and so is not made. Although there are multiple universes according to the Multiple World Interpretation, we do not know the other worlds in which we might have lived. Or, other worlds cease to exist, just as with the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.

In MeanwhileJason Shiga uses quantum mechanics as not only a plot device, but also a composition principle of the work itself.

2) Hypertext Comics

Shiga uses a panel as a representation of a choice, which makes sense because the principal element of comics is a panel and so the principal element of a narrative is also a panel. When the narrative branches out, it is natural to follow the specific panel and the corresponding story.

There are several ways to arrive at the specific panel (story). This would have been incredibly hard to show if the work was in other time-based medium, say a film. It is easy, however, to show in comics by placing a panel and its previous and next panel in different directions.


A1 — AB2 — A3


(Imagine “+”; Each alphabet-number pair represents each node; each node is a panel (event); A: the professor, B:Jimmy)

In this diagram, there are two different ways to cross AB2: A1-AB2-A3 and B1-AB2-B3. When Jimmy (B), the protagonist, uses SQUID (B1), which transfers the other’s memory, the reader goes to the panel which shows how the professor (A) experienced an event (AB2). Since it is comics, what the reader sees is an event itself without any hint of narrator or point of view. Therefore, it is the very experience of the professor (A) that Jimmy (B), so the reader, experiences (AB2).

This independence of point of view or narrator — objective depiction of an event — works great too when Jimmy uses a time travel machine: The reader goes back to the panel which he or she had read before, and starts reading exactly the same panel sequence again.

The formal components of comics inherently have non-linearity and hypertextuality. Meanwhile shows this potential of comics.


Please support this Patreon!

If you have no idea who the artist is, this is Jason Shiga, mastermind of the comic ‘Meanwhile’. I have read through this comic ‘Demon’ and OMG THIS IS MY FAVORITE STORY BY THIS GUY. The best one yet! It’s not a choose-your-own book like his others, but it’s linear, dark and twisted, meticulously planned and hilarious comic (rated R-18, heh). Supporters get the actual printed books PLUS the backorders! All his comics are hand printed, and hand stapled too, very special :3

You can read the webcomic if you don’t believe me about how awesome this comic is >:D

So please check out the comic, and if you’re convinced it’s worth supporting on patreon, please support! If you can’t afford, I would appreciate your help in getting the word around by reblogging it ^_^’



Jason Shiga. This guys is a great cartoonist. Known for his heavy usage of math (even if it’s behind the scenes) Jason Shiga is an inspiration to us all. His stories are like puzzles (literally in the case of Meanwhile) and display a creative insanity.

His many works include:

Double Happiness: I admit I have never read this one but to be fair it’s a bit hard to find: It was self published (like most of his early works), the link to it on an earlier version of his website was misspelled and thus useless, and unlike Fleep and Bookhunter the current version of his site does not have it. From what I can gather, it’s about a Chinese-American man named Tom, who moves to a chinatown and stays with his cousin Jackson. Then things go crazy.

Meanwhile: Shiga’s most mainstream work, it actually exists in 4 different forms: A black and white self-published book from 2001, a giant poster made in 2004 that exists on a wall in Shiga’s house, a 2010 color remake of the book, and a 2011 ios app that uses the art from the 2010 book to recreate the poster. The story is about a boy name Jimmy who gets an ice cream. And your first choice is what flavor to get. One flavor leads to jimmy getting an upset stomach and forces him to stop at the nearest place for the bathroom: A mad scientist’s lab. From there the scientist let’s him test out his inventions and things spiral from there


Originally run in the newspaper Asian Week and later dropped 2/3rds of the way through for being to confusing to read serially (don’t worry, the whole thing is on his website). The story is about a man named Jimmy who walks into a phone booth to call Jenny and wakes up to find it encased in concrete. He must now find out how to survive, escape, and find out why the booth now says “FLEEP” instead of “PHONE”.

BookhunterA valuable old book is stolen from the Oakland public library, and it’s up to a team of crime solvers to find out what happened to it. Violence ensues.

Empire State: Another work that I admit I have not read yet, From what I gather it’s about a man in his early 20’s named Jimmy Yee who goes on a cross country road trip to follow the love of his life. Things don’t go as planned.

DemonShiga’s latest, greatest, most depraved work yet: A man named Jimmy Yee walks into a hotel, writes a note, and hangs himself, only to find himself unharmed in bed. That and the fact that the cover clearly depicts Jimmy fucking a camel clearly should serve as a proper trigger warning. The fact that Shiga’s works are best enjoyed knowing almost nothing goes especially true with this piece of insanity. Updates M-F, will update daily once it reaches it’s patreon goal (which it is on the very CUSP of reaching, hopefully the “it hasn’t reached it’s goal yet” will become an out-of-date statement VERY SOON).

He’s also done stuff for Nickelodeon Magazine in the past. And let’s not forget his magnum opus: Jimmy’s Lamp.

Where Chicago’s Underground & Alternative Comic Artists Gather

Back in the middle of June, Origami attended CAKE and got the opportunity to talk to some of the greatest independent comic artists in the US, such as Jason Shiga and Joe Tallarico. We look forward to learning more about Chicago’s hidden gems and hopefully work with a wider scope of talented illustrators. CAKE Chicago has a tumblr which we follow and spotted another open call for Origami artists to participate in. Click here to read more!