BodyWorld

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Overview

From the astonishing imagination of Dash Shaw, visionary author of Bottomless Belly Button, comes a darkly fantastical graphic novel about a small town, a lowlife botanist, and a mysterious plant with strange powers.

It’s 2060, and a devastating civil war has left the country in shambles. Professor Paulie Panther–botanist, writer, and hopeless romantic–arrives in the experimental forest town of Boney Borough to research a strange plant growing behind the high school. As he ...

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Overview

From the astonishing imagination of Dash Shaw, visionary author of Bottomless Belly Button, comes a darkly fantastical graphic novel about a small town, a lowlife botanist, and a mysterious plant with strange powers.

It’s 2060, and a devastating civil war has left the country in shambles. Professor Paulie Panther–botanist, writer, and hopeless romantic–arrives in the experimental forest town of Boney Borough to research a strange plant growing behind the high school. As he conducts his research, he befriends some of the local residents: Miss Jem, the alluring science teacher; Billy Borg, Boney Borough’s star athlete; and Pearl Peach, the rebellious schoolgirl. Paulie soon discovers that the plant, when smoked, imparts telepathic powers. But when he shares this remarkable drug with his new friends, he finds that they’re not interested in mind-expansion. In fact, it appears that Paulie’s brash individualism might not be at all welcome in a town that prefers conformity to eccentricity.

Nominated for a 2009 Eisner Award and with a bold, innovative design, BodyWorld is a mind-blowing blend of science-fiction, classic high school drama, and futuristic what-if. It is at once funny and fearless–and sure to be the graphic novel event of the year.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A heady immersion into science fiction. . . . [Professor Paulie] Panther is, quite simply, one of the great messed-up antiheros of recent fiction. . . . Shaw pulls out all the stops to show such complex altered states in a manner both intuitive and chaotic. Graphics and text overlap, the timeframes and layers of meaning there to be teased out; in this haze, bits of one body get transferred to another, and it's tantalizingly unclear whose thoughts are being articulated. Most graphic novels are easily consumed at a gallop, but these sequences slow down the speed of Bodyworld, making for a rich experience (or should that be an irony-free synaesthetic experience?) that can't be achieved through words alone. . . . Shaw is a brilliant writer too. . . . Bodyworld turns out to be another showcase for Shaw's emotional generosity. Indeed, what better way to explore the limits of sympathy than with characters who can literally feel each other's pain?"
—Ed Park, The Los Angeles Times

“A psychedelic, romantic, science-fictional high school melodrama. . . . Shaw enthusiastically tosses one dizzying visual technique after another at his readers, because his story constantly heads into territories where simple narrative artwork isn’t enough. . . . Shaw is as eager to entertain as he is to mess with the parameters of his medium, and he goes out of his way to guide readers through the obstacle course he’s laid out. . . . [Shaw’s] a hell of an artist, constructing vivid, uncanny compositions with a spectacular sense of color and space. . . . And he seems to have fully absorbed the visual vocabularies of whole schools of cartooning that barely took notice of one another: old Japanese adventure comics, the art brut Fort Thunder scene, animation storyboards. . . . There’s so much gusto and invention [here] that it’s more rewarding than any number of more modest successes.”
—Douglas Wolk, The New York Times Book Review

"A sensory knockout. . . . The drawings a mix of stark black and white outlines with color accents, vivid yet dark. . . . Amazingly complex and impressively engrossing. . . . The book is erotic and kinky, blending sci-fi, musings on the efficacy of psychedelics, commentary on high school character assassination, and an ending sure to give you delicious creeps."
Boston Globe

"A rare example of the hype not doing it justice. . . . The story takes place in some murky corner of Shaw’s brain where time, perception, emotion, and even human metabolism are all raw materials for the sculpting, where memories manifest like graphic phantoms, and the subconscious bubbles up in textual blurts. The book’s design is just as sublime, and just as intrinsic to the overall vibe; Shaw’s lush-yet-angular artwork—which is deceptively deeper than it first seems—takes random detours into world-building splashes, foldout pages, and dead white space. Few comics since the early issues of Love And Rockets have instantly crafted such a vivid, self-contained identity, vocabulary, and cosmology; that said, there’s nothing remotely retro about it. BodyWorld is wholeheartedly, and in the best possible sense, the comic book of the future… A."
The Onion A.V. Club

"A twisted masterpiece of storytelling built from stunning visuals and panel-manipulation, rendered with much care."
Austin Chronicle

"Brilliant. . . . A vivid slice of neuro-fiction melded from a brash array of graphic styles."
—Wired.com

"Imagine if David Lynch and David Cronenberg collaborated on a graphic novel. . . . It wouldn’t be nearly as good as Dash Shaw’s BodyWorld. . . . The guy’s imagination is boundless. . . . This book will confound, disturb, delight, and amaze you."
—Bookgasm.com

“Masterfully drawn and delightfully tossed-off. . .  A mix of darkly funny, kaleidoscopically challenging and eerily discomfiting interactions. . . . Reading the book will take you on a long, strange trip where the final destination will make you value the fact that you own your thoughts, no matter how twisted they are.”
Time Out New York (four out of five stars)
 
“Fantastic. . . . Gorgeous. . . . Shaw’s willingness to experiment with his drawing style pays off particularly in pages portraying the effects of the drug with abstract blurring and melding of images.  Another brilliant work that is sure to attract loads of attention and praise this year.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“A graphic novel that seems not only to expand the possibilities of the form but explode them. . . . Just hop aboard and enjoy the ride.” —Kirkus (starred review)
 
“A Brave New World for our time.”
Library Journal
 
“I have seen the future of comics and its name is Dash Shaw.”
—David Mazzucchelli, author of Asterios Polyp

Library Journal
Set in 2060 in Boney Borough, a planned town that is a bit like a futuristic version of Mayberry gone awry, Shaw’s graphic novel follows Paulie Panther, a drug researcher who finds that smoking a local plant allows users to develop telepathic abilities. It is a gritty and grim story, a far cry from the suburban ordinariness of Ware’s domestic tale. Still, the way in which Shaw experiments with form should hold deep pleasures for Ware fans looking for yet more innovative ways of merging story, text, and image. Shaw’s book reads vertically, with the pages flipping up rather than over, and he includes two fold-out grid maps and keys scenes to one of them so that readers can track the character’s movements through space. He also excels at experimental drawing. The scenes in which characters are high feature a form of double exposure and mixed media that effectively represents their mental instability. Once the story moves out of Boney Borough, to a futuristic NYC, he employs a style that is expansive, architectural, and brilliantly colored with bright tones and black lines, evoking a Frank Lloyd Wright aesthetic (as does Ware). Complex, original, and deeply concerned with the use of color to further his story, Shaw exhibits innovation that is a step forward in comics design.

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Douglas Wolk
…Shaw is as eager to entertain as he is to mess with the parameters of his medium, and he goes out of his way to guide readers through the obstacle course he's laid out…Shaw isn't yet much of a draftsman, but he's a hell of an artist, constructing vivid, uncanny compositions with a spectacular sense of color and space…His sense of pacing is odd but very effective…And he seems to have fully absorbed the visual vocabularies of whole schools of cartooning that barely took notice of one another: old Japanese adventure comics, the art brut Fort Thunder scene, animation storyboards.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
A fantastic follow-up to Shaw's widely praised first full-length graphic novel, 2008's Bottomless Bellybutton, Body World treads very different territory. Boney Borough is a pastoral planned community in a dystopic future, where everyone knows each other's names and young romance blossoms at the high school “die-ball” games. But like all idyllic suburban communities, Boney Borough has a drug problem, and a newcomer, tweaked-out drug “researcher” Paulie Panther, takes advantage of it. Panther discovers a new kind of plant in the woods outside town, that, when smoked, allows people to telepathically experience one another's bodies and minds. Introduced to the local youth, the drug wreaks havoc with Boney Borough in some very unusual ways. First published as a serial comic on the author's Web site, the print version has added scenes, with gorgeous full-color pages to be read from top to bottom, as if you were scrolling through the story from beginning to end. This is key for the climactic scene, which unfurls in one extended panel. Shaw's willingness to experiment with his drawing style pays off particularly in pages portraying the effects of the drug with abstract blurring and melding of images. Another brilliant work that is sure to attract loads of attention and praise this year. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307378422
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 418,551
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

DASH SHAW grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and studied at the School of Visual Arts. A prolific cartoonist and animator, he is the author of the 2008 graphic novel Bottomless Belly Button. He lives in Brooklyn.
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