I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got four new comics plus a trade paperback collection:

  • Usagi Yojimbo – 117
  • Savage Dragon – 144
  • Mr. X: Condemned – 2
  • Glamourpuss – 5
  • Criminal – Volume 4 -“Bad Night” (Hey I never got Volume 3!)
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

  • “Bottomless Belly Button” by Dash Shaw

    The publishers notes on Amazon tell me this book is 720 pages. There are no page numbers in the book so I’ll have to take their word for it since I’m not going to count them. So this is a big book. But not quite as big as it seems since it uses the alternative comics “one or two panels on a page surrounded by lots of white” style (not on every page but on some) that I’ve noticed cropping up in the last few years. Usually in these large page count black and white comics.

    I wonder if this style would be analogous to a “page turner” in the world of text books? The type of best seller that has short chapters and short paragraphs. You literally have to turn the pages faster in this book during the sections when there is only one or two panels on a page. I’m not sure what this stylistic choice means besides padding the page count. At half it’s length it’s still a long story anyway.

    Anyway this book is about a family consisting of two grandparents, three of their children, one daughter in law, and two grandchildren getting together, for a few days, in the grandparents’ house because the grandparents have announced that they are getting divorced. I’d say that the book deals with the family’s reaction to this news but most of them have no reaction. One son is really upset and the rest are not very disturbed by it.

    This book is along the lines of the “slice of life” indie comic that has popped up recently. Ordinary people with no special insight muddling through. I generally like slice of life stuff but it can also get tedious. Muddling through can be quite dull. This one wasn’t too dull though. I generally enjoyed it.

    I’d describe the art style as “not searching for perfection but getting the job done” indie style. What I mean by that is that the drawing isn’t very pretty but that’s not what the artist is going for. He wants to tell a story. And to tell a 700 page independent comic story (for little money I guess) he can’t worry about making a pretty drawing. He just has to draw.

    So the drawing is no frills but Shaw finds interesting ways to tell the story and keep us into it. He has a novel approach to certain hard to draw things such as wind. When he thinks wind in the background is important to the story he draws dotted lines to represent the wind but also letters the word “wind” right among the dotted lines. Kind of literal sound effects.

    Overall I liked this volume. There was no great insight in it but it got me thinking about the nature of family. I think that’s what it wanted to do. So if you’re into a slice of life story and want to explore the dynamics of a family check this one out.