What are graphic novels? Superman and Captain America? No, it’s artists creating novels, short stories and other fictions by bringing together contemporary images and text.
One of the fastest rising graphic novelists is Dash Shaw. This 25-year-old Brooklynite recently published his 720-page graphic novel with Fantagraphics: Bottomless Belly Button was released in June and a second printing is already in the works.
Bottomless, an exhibition of original drawings, storyboards, color background overlays and a new video animation by Dash Shaw will be on display at the John Hope Franklin Center, 2204 Erwin Road from Thursday, September 25 through October 31. The exhibition is curated by Diego Cortez. The opening is September 25, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
At noon on Friday, September 26 in Franklin Center 240, Shaw will be joined by noted graphic artist Gary Panter, original set designer for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and Dash’s former teacher at the School of the Visual Arts, who will discuss his work.
Bottomless Belly Button narrates six days in the lives of the fast-disintegrating Looney family. After 40-some years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony shock their children with their announcement of a planned divorce. But the reason for splitting isn’t itself shocking: they’re “just not in love any more.” The announcement sparks a week-long Loony family reunion at Maggie and David’s creepy (and possibly haunted) beach house.
In this six-day period visually rich with atmospheric sequences, the characters stumble blindly around one another, often ignoring their surroundings and consumed by their own daily conflicts. Visually, Shaw employs a leisurely storytelling pace that allows room for exploring the interconnecting relationships among the characters and plays to his strength as a cartoonist – small gestural details and nuanced expressions that bring the characters to vivid and intimate life.
The novel has been extremely well received, even by publications that normally do not review graphic novels. The New York Times found it “Engrossing.” The Christian Science Monitor wrote: “Like the very best illustrated fiction, Shaw’s work moves between pathos and humor, between the fantastic and the familiar.” New York Magazine declared that “Young Dash Shaw has written the graphic novel of the year.” Entertainment gave the book an “A”.
Pantheon recently acquired Dash’s next book, Body World, which he is currently publishing on line. Once the on-line version is completed, Pantheon will publish the work in its entirety. Publisher’s Weekly has noted that Hollywood film studies are showing a marked interest in both graphic novels.
COST: Both events are free and open to the public.
CONTACT: For more information, or to schedule telephone interviews with Mr. Shaw, contact Rob Sikorski.
Promotional images are available