Monday, June 16, 2008

This weekend, I graduated from college, and my mom came into town and stayed for three days. After she left, a copy of Dash Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button arrived in the mail. This seemed appropriate, due to the book's nature as a family drama, but I'm also reminded that it was the first book the artist completed following his graduation from New York's School Of Visual Art. It's a lot more mature than his last book, The Mother's Mouth, although still displaying some little tics and approaches that are completely jettisoned from his current webcomic Bodyworld. (i.e. self-conscious framing devices that act as a narrator)

Bottomless Belly Button reminds me of the last two Noah Baumbach movies, only improved by their shift to comics. The strength that movies have, of the distinct presences of actors, has been removed, and replaced with this kind of complicated cartoon set of symbols, which makes it feel less slight, and more epic and resonant. There's also a more detailed fictional world at work than you'd see in a typical indie family drama.

Anyway, it's awesome. It might not be the best comic of the year (although I don't think I've read a better one), but this will probably be Dash Shaw's year, based partly on this work he created fresh out of college, which strikes me as an inspiring thought.

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