cover image New Realities: The Comics of Dash Shaw

New Realities: The Comics of Dash Shaw

Greg Hunter. Uncivilized Books, $22.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-941250-47-1

Comics critic Hunter debuts with a perceptive survey of the idiosyncratic oeuvre of Dash Shaw, a “changeable” cartoonist whose “stylistic leaps have become his most obvious constant.” In essays that dissect each of Shaw’s major works—beginning with his massive 2008 graphic novel, Bottomless Belly Button—Hunter chronicles Shaw’s evolution as a cartoonist, his unwavering commitment to experimental storytelling, and his fascination with the subjectivity of human experience. “His comics explore... the ways people can occupy the same spaces but regard them with different ways of seeing,” writes Hunter before diving headlong into the plots, themes, and array of visual formal tricks that connect Shaw’s disparate works. While 2010’s visually complex BodyWorld takes a stylistic departure from his other books—with a “vertical (not right-to-left) page turn”—it still deploys color as a “major tool” to advance chronological and emotional narratives. Likewise, the 2014 graphic novel Doctors differs from its predecessors in depicting consciousness in a “near-literal sense,” but its preoccupations with the “inhabitability of the mind” is a common theme throughout Shaw’s milieu. Though Hunter’s analysis of Shaw’s animated films feels rushed, it succeeds in illustrating how Shaw has never limited himself to one art form. It’s a great starting point for anyone wanting to know more about the work of this restless and relentlessly curious artist. (Oct.)