Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dash, David, and Joyce

Dash Shaw has gone from near anonymity even in the insular little comics community to being praised in major magazines for his phonebook-sized 700-page graphic novel The Bottomless Bellybutton. The latest high praise comes from Entertainment Weekly which grades BB an "A" whilst recommending it to fans of David Foster Wallace and Joyce Carol Oates!. The "meticulous poignancy of the richest graphic novels." The kid is like 25 and truly loves the comics medium so it seems unlikely he's going to decide it's too labor intensive and piss off to illustration or the video gaming industry or something (even though he designs board games for his own amusement) so the possibility of him creating an amazing body of work over the next several decades is not far-fetched.

Unfortunately (or not depending on perspective, frankly I found it mostly boring) PP went under just one issue after the Shaw interview ran and the entire interview which was online seems no longer available.

The website of Shaw's evil new publisher Fantagraphics snags this blurb from my Punk Planet interview --

"In the insular comics community, Shaw has made a name for himself (and a good one it is) by willfully eschewing the mainstream to follow his own decidedly original and peculiar muse." – Punk Planet"

Whitney Matheson who writes for USA Today apparently read the Punk Planet interview and it turned her onto Shaw's current book (at the time) The Mother's Mouth.

"The Mother's Mouth by Dash Shaw (Alternative Comics, $12.95) -- I read a piece about Shaw in Punk Planet and had to grab a copy of this graphic novel, which was originally supposed to accompany an album by Shaw's band, Love Eats Brains. The story follows a librarian who travels home to New Orleans to take care of her dying mother. There, she falls for a singer who idolizes Michael Jackson. The whole thing is haunting, sad and mesmerizing."

Finally, Dash was kind enough to draw portraits of people he wanted to thank for being supportive of his career thus far, and while I just call 'em like I see 'em and acknowledged his talent early on simply because it was so blazingly obvious. I don't know the other five dudes in the picture but I know the jackass bottom right (arrows courtesy of Dash) all too well (and yes I loathe him as much as everyone else). Pretty good likeness even despite the zombie-esque qualities. Or maybe those are spot-on too?

(scroll down this blog for more commentary about Bottomless Bellybutton)

Check out a very fine 20-pg preview of BB right here at New York magazine.

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