BODY WORLD by Dash Shaw
Kirkus Star


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A graphic novel that seems not only to expand the possibilities of the form but explode them.

Looking for the linear narrative of conventional storytelling in the latest from critically acclaimed artist Shaw (Bottomless Belly Button, 2008, etc.) is like trying to drive on LSD. In fact, the riot of color seems hallucinogenic, befitting this futuristic scenario of a mysteriously seedy botany professor on the prowl for a plant with unusual properties. His quest leads him to Boney Borough, 50 years from now, in particular its high school and a forest where typical notions of reality achieve dreamlike suspension. Living in a motel that is little more than a flophouse (out of some noir film), Professor Paulie Panther befriends Miss Jem Jewell, the school’s femme fatale of a teacher, who grows suspicious of the stranger after a very unusual bathroom encounter between the two. He then turns his attention to two students, star athlete Billy Borg and the attractive Pearl Peach, each of whom falls under his seductive spell. If such a summary seems straightforward enough, it betrays the spirit of a narrative that hop-scotches across decades and finds characters exchanging brain waves, even genders, through the properties of the plant that the professor smokes and shares. Anyone trying to make even symbolic sense of this might be frustrated; just hop aboard and enjoy the ride. Fittingly, the book must be read vertically—top to bottom—rather than the usual horizontal, side-by-side progression from beginning to end.

Not for kids or repressively mature adults, but a real kick for those in between.

Pub Date: April 13th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-37842-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2010


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