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Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities.
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Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities.

by Jason Shiga

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Chocolate or Vanilla? This simple choice is all it takes to get started with Meanwhile, the wildly inventive creation of comics mastermind Jason Shiga, of whom Scott McCloud said “Crazy + Genius = Shiga.” Jimmy, whose every move is under your control, finds himself in a mad scientist’s lab, where he’s given a choice between three


Chocolate or Vanilla? This simple choice is all it takes to get started with Meanwhile, the wildly inventive creation of comics mastermind Jason Shiga, of whom Scott McCloud said “Crazy + Genius = Shiga.” Jimmy, whose every move is under your control, finds himself in a mad scientist’s lab, where he’s given a choice between three amazing objects: a mind-reading device, a time-travel machine, or the Killitron 3000 (which is as ominous as it sounds). Down each of these paths there are puzzles, mysterious clues, and shocking revelations. It’s up to the reader to lead Jimmy to success or disaster.

Meanwhile is a wholly original story of invention, discovery, and saving the world, told through a system of tabs that take you forward, backward, upside down, and right side up again. Each read creates a new adventure!
Awards and praise for Jason Shiga
2004 Eisner Award
2003 Ignatz Award
2007 Stumpton Trophy Award
1999 Xeric Grant Recipient
“Crazy + Genius = Shiga” —Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics
“If humankind ever finds itself at the brink of its own destruction and I am given the task to fill a small, space-bound time capsule with a collection of ten graphic novels that would present to alien eyes the best that the cartoonists of Earth had to offer the universe, Jason Shiga's Meanwhile would surely be among my picks.” —Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese
“A creator of comix that can be at once funny, disturbing, thoughtful, deconstructed, and cleverly put together.” —Time online
Meanwhile is a wallop of a book/graphic novel! It delivers action, choices, problem solving, and engagement. And it reminds me of my own efforts in writing Choose Your Own Adventure, which I take as a great compliment coming from Jason Shiga. I wish I had written this book! Run, don’t walk, to your favorite bookseller and pick up a copy!” —R. A. Montgomery, Choose Your Own Adventure author
“Ingenious” —Edward Packard, Choose Your Own Adventure author

Editorial Reviews

Nicole Barrick Renner
Chocolate or vanilla? Your answer to this question will set you off on one of 3,856 story possibilities in Jason Shiga's decidedly nonlinear graphic novel adventure. Meanwhile is one part Choose Your Own Adventure, one part video game-code ciphering, and several parts hypertext; it will engage the curiosity, persistence, and imagination of any reader willing to squint and flip pages long enough to get sucked into the twisty world of Jimmy and the mad scientist. After a few minutes of tentative exploration in this slim, multi-tabbed volume, you will find yourself furiously tracing storylines, flipping forward and backward, and crying out in frustration when you reach the disastrous ends of most of the book's paths. You'll try to resist starting over again, but you won't be able to. Share it with a friend and enjoy deep discussions of physics, philosophy, and which ice cream flavor is ultimately best. Reviewer: Nicole Barrick Renner
Children's Literature - Michael Jung
Back in the 1980s, kids loved Bantam Books' "Choose Your Own Adventure" game book series which let them make their own choices about a story's plot and experience multiple adventures. Now comic book writer/artist Shiga tries his hand at a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style graphic novel, in his creatively complex Meanwhile. Readers start by making young Jimmy choose between a chocolate or vanilla ice cream, and then follow tubes that connect different comic panels which could lead Jimmy to an inventor's laboratory where he can play with a time machine, doomsday device, or memory-reading gadget. Which invention will he pick? What will they reveal about the strange world he lives in? That's up to the reader—provided he or she has the patience to follow all the panels, which can be read from left to right, right to left, bottom to top, or top to bottom. It's a bit confusing, and readers will probably stumble through a few false starts before getting the hang of it. But once they do, they'll find the seemingly random plot threads do tie together to form an intricate, if convoluted, story with a surprise ending (or rather endings, since certain choices can end Jimmy's tale prematurely). A lot of fun for fans of warped science fiction, but hard to follow for people used to linear storytelling and straightforward plots. Reviewer: Michael Jung
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Shiga introduces readers to a whole new technique of reading comics. Jimmy must decide if he wants chocolate or vanilla ice cream. That's the first choice readers face in order to determine the fate of the world in this "Choose Your Own Adventure" style graphic novel. Rather than reading panels left to right, color-coded tubelike lines send children in the direction the panels should be read, from right to left/left to right, up to down/down to up, and flipping backwards to pages rather than going forward. Tabs on the edge of the pages help move the tubes along, directing readers to which page to read next. If a tube splits into two paths from a panel, readers then must choose which scenario to follow. Illustrations are drawn in ink, with color overlay. The text is clearly written by hand and will be easily deciphered by readers. Seasoned graphic-novel fans will be entertained by selecting scenarios throughout this action-packed book while developing problem-solving skills. Thousands of story possibilities will guarantee them a different experience each time they pick up this book. However, some readers may have to run their finger along the tube lines to keep track of their place in the story's path, as some of them can be quite long or zigzagged.—Janet Weber, Tigard Public Library, OR
Kristi Jemtegaard
Shiny plastic-coated paper means that the colored tabs that guide readers won't rip off, and fingers (even chocolaty ones) won't leave discernible marks as they travel along the intricate tubes that propel the tale. A stop sign at the very beginning cautions against skipping around to find the secret codes, which would only cheat young readers out of hours of fun.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
A mathematician/cartoonist whose best works (Bookhunter; Fleep) play with form and logic, Shiga has created both an enchanting graphic novel and a delightful physical object. Building on the concept of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, Shiga allows readers to select among thousands of story lines. The first question is simple: “Chocolate or vanilla?” From there, readers follow thin tubes and tabs in circuitous paths throughout the book, dictated by their choices. Sometimes the story takes a reader right to left through panels on the page, sometimes up or down, and readers' decisions may have them skip forward or backward throughout the text. Plots include time machines, doomsday devices, quantum physics, and a giant squid. The charming, cartoony illustrations, bursting with color and energy, lend a wry counterpoint to the often disastrous outcomes of the many possible plots. In the electronic media era, it's refreshing to encounter a work that makes such unique use of the physical nature of the book. Young readers will likely spend hours finding new ways to wend a path through the pages of this innovative book. Ages 8–up. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
All choices have weight, even the most banal. The beginning of this highly inventive Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-esque graphic novel prompts its readers to first choose between chocolate or vanilla ice cream-which leads them to endings from the utterly bizarre to the devastatingly apocalyptic. After choosing between the two flavors, Jimmy, the precocious young hero of the story, accidentally stumbles upon a mysterious science lab and the aloof Professor K. The Professor has three machines: a time-travel machine, a mind-melding device and a contraption that can control entropy. Through a twisting, winding maze of tubes and tabs, each choice leads readers to a new page, with unpredictable story lines ranging from the ordinary and unremarkable to the end of the world. Overall, this is a truly ingenious graphic novel in its construction; however, the plots for some adventures can be shallow, confusing or frustratingly circular, leading readers back to the same spot. With a hidden code contained within and flaws aside, this clever book should amuse for hours. That said, make your choice carefully. (Graphic fiction. 10 & up)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Jason Shiga won the Eisner award in 2003 for “talent deserving of wider recognition.” In 2008, his graphic novel Bookhunter was also nominated for an Eisner. He lives in Oakland, California.

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