Read BodyWorld by Dash Shaw Free Online
Book Title: BodyWorld|
The author of the book: Dash Shaw
Edition: Dash Shaw
Date of issue: February 10th 2009
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 827 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.4
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I have the feeling that from time to time I will need to look at all of the Dash Shaw books I have read and not appreciated and rethink my evaluations of them. This one I think might be my favorite so far, though it may just be that I am starting to gain a greater appreciation for what he is doing. I never know exactly what to think of him. Is he bold and innovative or just doing crazy stuff for the sake of doing it? This one is about, among other things, the representation of mind while on drugs. It's also Shaw's version of Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks, what's lurking in a small town, Boney Borough, and lurking specifically in its high school, or behind it.
It’s 2060, a civil war changed the country. What that has to do with anything I don't know, because Shaw is not into politics. Socio-cultural conditions are not his thing. Professor Paulie Panther, a crazy botanist who performs drug experiments on himself (and seems obviously crazy as a result of them), arrives to research a strange plant growing behind the high school. The cast includes Miss Jem, science teacher; Billy Borg (jock) and Pearl Peach (rebellious girl who loathes small town life), two Archie comics types (by this I mean they are drawn to look like they are out of Archie comics). Hey, what would these two kookie Archie and Betty kids be like on drugs?! Haw. But Panther (and the nod here is to experimental comics guy Gary Panter, I think) sees that this new drug has telepathic properties. Reminds me of claims for peyote among Indigenous Mexican tribes and Native Americans in the sixties, a shared spiritual/psychic experience to be had for all. What could go wrong? But is Boney Borough ready to get on Ken Kesey's acid trip bus? Are they into another kind of group think?
So the vibe here is less hippie peyote dream of a common psychic/spiritual state than something sinister, when we learn the drug may come from outer space (why, Dash?! why add that element on top of everything you have so far??! ) and may be part of a (paranoid) vision of aliens hoping to take over the planet. The vibe is increasingly more one of horror than Archie, as things get increasingly out of control. Questions emerge about the source of the madness. Is Panther an okay guy, or is he part of the insanity sweeping the town? Is he causing it or just going with the alien flow? Are drugs okay for the pursuit of happiness and insight?
Prof. Panther uses drug experiences to explore what psychic exchanges can do to minds and bodies; can we inhabit each other's minds and bodies, in this peculiar "body world"? Sexuality is one part of this exploration. Huxley's doors of perception are part of this exploration. But the news is not so good in this story for what drugs (and aliens?) can do to contribute to a better future. It's more than a little scary, this brave new world brought to Boney Borough.
Ultimately, I just decided to relax and go with this trippy narrative, and tried to appreciate how Shaw was trying to bring his crazy unconventional vision to the conventional world of Boney Borough and narrative comics, trying to reach an audience who would like to read a story that brings together high school, sci fi and acid. What Shaw (like so many "experimental" or alternative or art comics artists want to do is represent alternative states of being, seems to me: mad/fantasy/horror/psychic/spiritual/hallucinogenic states. These states give the artist free rein to explore alternative forms of representation and narrative, to get wild with design and color. Drug-induced conditions are Shaw's alternative mind choice du jour. Pretty crazy stuff in a sort of conventional multi-level narrative, in a vertical book format. But for Shaw it's all about the art, finally. And that's fine and fun and not boring at all.
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Read information about the authorDash Shaw is a cartoonist and animator in Brooklyn, New York. His latest graphic novel is "New School", about two brothers on an island where an ambitious amusement park is under construction. His other books include the telepathy comedy "Bodyworld" and the family comedy-drama "Bottomless Belly Button". His animated works include the Sigur Ros video and Sundance selection "Seraph", "Wheel of Fortune", and the IFC series "The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century AD."
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