Bottomless Belly Button
Bottomless Belly Button is a comedy-drama that follows the dysfunctional adventures of the Loony 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.The eldest child, Dennis, struggles with his parents' decision while facing difficulties of his own in his recent marriage. Believing that his parents are hiding the true reasons behind their estrangement, Dennis embarks on a quest to discover the truth and searches through clues, trap doors, and secret tunnels in attempt to find an answer. Claire, the middle child, is a single mother whose 16-year-old daughter, Jill, is apathetic to the divorce but confounded by Claire and troubled by her own "mannish" appearance. The youngest child, Peter, is a hack filmmaker suffering from paralyzing insecurities who establishes an unorthodox romance with a mysterious day care counselor at the beach.In a six-day period rich with atmospheric sequences, these 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. If the controversial R.D. Laing wrote an episode of The Simpsons, it might read something like Bottomless Belly Button.Official Selection, 2009 Festival International de la Bande Dessinée de Angouleme; named one of Publishers Weekly's 2008 "Best Books of the Year: Comics;" named one of Booklist's "Top 10 Graphic Novels" of the Year."

Bottomless Belly Button Details

TitleBottomless Belly Button
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 17th, 2008
PublisherFantagraphics
ISBN1560979151
ISBN-139781560979159
Number of pages720 pages
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Fiction, Graphic Novels Comics

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Bottomless Belly Button Review

  • Anthony Vacca
    October 24, 2014
    Is it possible to write a review for a story about a family of eccentric personalities and the comedy and tragedy that results from the comingling of their individual personal dysfunctions without mentioning The Royal Tenenbaums? Apparently not. Now, with that out of the way: Bottomless Belly Button is a story about a family of eccentric personalities and the comedy and tragedy that results from the comingling of their individual personal dysfunctions –but it's also a bravura performance at comi Is it possible to write a review for a story about a family of eccentric personalities and the comedy and tragedy that results from the comingling of their individual personal dysfunctions without mentioning The Royal Tenenbaums? Apparently not. Now, with that out of the way: Bottomless Belly Button is a story about a family of eccentric personalities and the comedy and tragedy that results from the comingling of their individual personal dysfunctions –but it's also a bravura performance at comic book writing as an artistic medium. After forty years of marriage the paternal hierarchy of the Loony clan has decided to divorce; and so Mom and Dad summon their children home for a week of strained familial bonding as the final papers are signed and ways are finally parted. Naturally, the three Loony children act accordingly and proceed to wallow in their own personal inadequacies. The eldest son—a grown man drawn as nearly always wearing a child’s anachronistic football uniform (metaphor!)— spends his week ignoring his overweight wife and young son, devoting all of his time to crawling through hidden passages in the house, sneezing through dusty old photo albums and interrogating his parents on what’s the real reason behind their divorce. Middle daughter—a wishy-washy willow of a woman—tries her best to relate with her uncomfortably 16-year-old daughter, while bemoaning her own long-past divorce with a selfish cad of an artist. And youngest son, a 26-year-old anthropomorphic cartoon frog (yes, he has the head of a frog and the four-fingered-glove hands of Mickey Mouse) deals with an abiding sense of self-loathing, angst, and loneliness brought about in part by the casual indifference and lack of affection he receives from his parents and siblings…but hope may be budding on the horizon (i.e. he may lose his virginity to the sweet yet slightly off-kilter beach babe he’s just met)! Weighing in at 700+ pages, Bottomless Belly Button is a shockingly compulsive read (I waded through it all in one engrossed, two and a half hour session) that bops around from eviscerating its characters’ flaws to sympathetically digging deep into their psyches. Shaw deserves a standing ovation for the way in which he infuses comic exaggeration, a harsh refusal of sentimentality, innovative meta-comic-ing, laugh-out-loud moments of comedic humiliation, marital despair, and touching insight into being old, young, married, alone, unhappy, teenaged, a parent, a child, a failure, and (dare I go there? …Dare!) a human being. Reminiscent of Chris Ware, albeit not quite as hopeless, triple-B is a graphic novel/comic book/words-with-pictures-whatever that I cannot recommend highly enough.
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  • Jamie
    July 11, 2008
    This review is kind of like an "it's not you, it's me" break-up, because I should really acknowledge that Dash Shaw's The Bottomless Bellybutton represents a certain side of art-house indie cartooning that just doesn't resonate with me. There is a scene late in the comic when the grandmother is at the grocery store, and the man in line in front of her gives her an angry look for not putting a divider between their items. It seemed like an outrageous response to a fairly common situation, and I r This review is kind of like an "it's not you, it's me" break-up, because I should really acknowledge that Dash Shaw's The Bottomless Bellybutton represents a certain side of art-house indie cartooning that just doesn't resonate with me. There is a scene late in the comic when the grandmother is at the grocery store, and the man in line in front of her gives her an angry look for not putting a divider between their items. It seemed like an outrageous response to a fairly common situation, and I realized that most of the world is angry or annoyed at the family that is at the center of The Bottomless Bellybutton. As a reader, I should be sympathetic to their plight in the face of hostility, but truth is, I was angry and annoyed with them, as well. I didn't care at all if they got where they were going, and the book is way too long to put up with a group of people who the author seems to be telling us are really the source of their own problems. It's like watching a remake of Little Miss Sunshine by Todd Solondz. There was one nice moment I really liked, where Peter, a boy portrayed with a frog's head, reverts back to his real face for a moment, when he realizes his new girlfriend doesn't see him as a freak. It's very subtle, revealing that the reason Dash Shaw has chosen to draw Peter as a weird frogboy is because that is how he sees himself, but he's really as normal as the rest of them. The book has multiple instances of characters having warped self-images, but this is the one place where it really comes through as something special. Overall, the cartooning is about as unappealing to me as the writing. It has a rushed, unfinished quality that grows tedious in the book's first couple of hundred pages. Given that the whole novel is 720 pages, that's a lot of unattractive comics to plow through. I suppose Shaw could be trying for what Douglas Wolk calls a "beautiful ugly" aesthetic, but for me he's way too heavy on the second half of that equation.Again, I'm more than willing to concede that all of this criticism stems from my personal tastes and is not necessarily reflective of the quality of Shaw's work. There are actually some very good, emotionally heavy moments in Bottomless Bellybutton that struck me despite my struggles to connect with the overall product. Likewise, though I was originally going to complain about an ongoing annoyance with indie cartoonists being overly obsessed with urine, semen, and boogers, as I read, I saw that this was the low-end of a sophisticated thematic metaphor about the way the transmogrification of water is similar to changes humans go through over their life.In other words, despite myself, I get it; it's just that "it" is not for me.
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  • Jeffrey
    April 22, 2008
    Far and away Dash Shaw's best work yet; the story is a little more straightforward/less surreal than some of Dash's other books, except for a character who appears as a frog, but he continues to play with the comics form, and without doing it in such a way that it distracts from the narrative. A huge thick book that maybe reads quicker than it looks it will, but undoubtedly will reward repeat readings...
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  • Brian Stillman
    August 10, 2008
    Let's see...dysfunctional white family; goofy low self esteemed guy who can't make it with chicks but has a quirky chick quick to go for his sausage conveniently pop up solely for the purpose of going for his sausage; did we mention unsympathetic bored whiney dysfunctional white family...This is the kind of stuff Daniel Clowes and Jeffrey Brown make sing. This does not sing. This is like Parker Lewis Can't Lose compared to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If Zach Braff were a graphic novelist this woul Let's see...dysfunctional white family; goofy low self esteemed guy who can't make it with chicks but has a quirky chick quick to go for his sausage conveniently pop up solely for the purpose of going for his sausage; did we mention unsympathetic bored whiney dysfunctional white family...This is the kind of stuff Daniel Clowes and Jeffrey Brown make sing. This does not sing. This is like Parker Lewis Can't Lose compared to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If Zach Braff were a graphic novelist this would be his output. All that would be missing would be the cd insert chockful of hipster montage music primed to manipulate the audience into emotions the visuals and dialogue fall short of stirring.
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  • Brent Legault
    August 17, 2008
    The things that Shaw does with light, with water, with sand will confound your eyes and uproot your mind. There is detail here. Shaw has paid attention to it and so should you. Note the coming of dusk. Note the one "true" glimpse of Peter. Note how the "x" marks the "spot." Sound is not usually something you think of when you think of comics. Shaw offers up a cacophony. A melodic cacophony. His is a noisy book.Floor plans. Portraits. Cinematic scenes. I felt like I was watching a movie directed The things that Shaw does with light, with water, with sand will confound your eyes and uproot your mind. There is detail here. Shaw has paid attention to it and so should you. Note the coming of dusk. Note the one "true" glimpse of Peter. Note how the "x" marks the "spot." Sound is not usually something you think of when you think of comics. Shaw offers up a cacophony. A melodic cacophony. His is a noisy book.Floor plans. Portraits. Cinematic scenes. I felt like I was watching a movie directed by the protege of Wes Anderson.
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  • Jamil
    August 9, 2008
    a massive brick of cartooning, shattering the staid glass window panes of other so-called graphic novels with its "exhuberance" & its visual swagger -- using maps, rebuses & secret codes to detail the tale of a family, where no one resembles another*, impacted by the divorce of the parents after forty years of marriage.It's almost overwhelming, but I totally ignored one of the caveats of this graphic novel and read all three parts all 700 odd pages straight through early Friday morning. a massive brick of cartooning, shattering the staid glass window panes of other so-called graphic novels with its "exhuberance" & its visual swagger -- using maps, rebuses & secret codes to detail the tale of a family, where no one resembles another*, impacted by the divorce of the parents after forty years of marriage.It's almost overwhelming, but I totally ignored one of the caveats of this graphic novel and read all three parts all 700 odd pages straight through early Friday morning. But the other caveat, repeated on both spine & 1st page, really should not be ignored (at yr peril!) this is a comic that is definitely NOT FOR CHILDREN).*& why one son is drawn with a froghead is eventually, poetically explained, no worries.
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  • Printable Tire
    January 18, 2011
    The Bottomless Bellybutton is an absorbing mammoth graphic novel for a rainy day or two. There are some great "comic-matic" moments without dialogue and a great use of cartoon space, and a clever use of the lack of color and a fancy use of diagrams and letters and zany gimmicky stuff like that I usually really enjoy. Ultimately, though, there's not much substance to this big thing, a case of style trumping sensation in the end (and by style I mean more book design than the actual art, which is f The Bottomless Bellybutton is an absorbing mammoth graphic novel for a rainy day or two. There are some great "comic-matic" moments without dialogue and a great use of cartoon space, and a clever use of the lack of color and a fancy use of diagrams and letters and zany gimmicky stuff like that I usually really enjoy. Ultimately, though, there's not much substance to this big thing, a case of style trumping sensation in the end (and by style I mean more book design than the actual art, which is fine at serving its purpose but not amazing by any regards). This book often seemed like the product of a talented but neophyte artist testing out the medium with the various tricks up his sleeve, but ultimately bereft of an interesting story that went anywhere or had anything original or interesting to say. Nonetheless it was fun to read and I was sad when it was all over, because I had gotten attached to the characters, or at least the frog-faced boy, by the end.
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  • Lee
    March 1, 2010
    Surely the fastest 720-page read in the bookstore. The faster I moved through it, the closer reading came to watching a film, sort of like a flip book. Maybe reminds me of a sad quirky not-so-funny indie comedy crossed, at its best, with some Ozu-y sweetness? By which I mean it's totally in favor of affectationlessly portraying minor life moments until they seem to achieve "poignancy" and therefore deserve an elevated term like "quotidian" instead of common/dull? The drawings aren't close qualit Surely the fastest 720-page read in the bookstore. The faster I moved through it, the closer reading came to watching a film, sort of like a flip book. Maybe reminds me of a sad quirky not-so-funny indie comedy crossed, at its best, with some Ozu-y sweetness? By which I mean it's totally in favor of affectationlessly portraying minor life moments until they seem to achieve "poignancy" and therefore deserve an elevated term like "quotidian" instead of common/dull? The drawings aren't close quality-/complexity-wise to other leading graphic novels I've seen, but crude simplicity lets it accelerate and sometimes even seem to take off, like a chair with tons of helium balloons tied to it. One LOL pretty early on. As such, I give it an affectionate three stars and look forward to maybe "watching" it again one day.
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  • Tom Mayer
    September 20, 2008
    A friend had recommended I read everything Dash Shaw had ever done. I started on his bewildering earlier books THE MOTHER'S MOUTH and GODDESS HEAD, but I put them both aside when I learned BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON had arrived. This is by far the best graphic novel I've read in several years, impressionistic, textured, synechdotal (?). Whatever. It's incredible. I've been putting this book, at once cosmic and deeply personal, in the hands of everyone I know who likes graphic novels. (and also, Das A friend had recommended I read everything Dash Shaw had ever done. I started on his bewildering earlier books THE MOTHER'S MOUTH and GODDESS HEAD, but I put them both aside when I learned BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON had arrived. This is by far the best graphic novel I've read in several years, impressionistic, textured, synechdotal (?). Whatever. It's incredible. I've been putting this book, at once cosmic and deeply personal, in the hands of everyone I know who likes graphic novels. (and also, Dash, thanks for the warning to take breaks while reading. If it hadn't been for that I would have ruined a nights sleep finishing it in one go.)
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  • Vitor Martins
    April 17, 2015
    uma hq ótima que mostra os problemas de uma família normal sobre diversos pontos de vista. me fez rir e me fez pensar. adorei essa leitura!
  • Robert Beveridge
    January 9, 2010
    Dash Shaw, Bottomless Belly Button (Fantagraphics, 2008)I feel torn about Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw's monstrous (720 pp.) magnum opus. On the one hand, it's one of those graphic novels that isn't actually “about” anything. The characters, in general, don't change, just kind of butt up against one another like buoys tied to a pier in rough water, and the situation flows around them. Think of it as a mumblecore graphic novel, you know? And those tend to drive me bats. (God save me from ev Dash Shaw, Bottomless Belly Button (Fantagraphics, 2008)I feel torn about Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw's monstrous (720 pp.) magnum opus. On the one hand, it's one of those graphic novels that isn't actually “about” anything. The characters, in general, don't change, just kind of butt up against one another like buoys tied to a pier in rough water, and the situation flows around them. Think of it as a mumblecore graphic novel, you know? And those tend to drive me bats. (God save me from ever having to read anything else Craig Thompson writes. Ever.) But on the other hand... Dash Shaw is amazing. Pure-D gold. I'm not sure anyone else could have taken this scenario and these characters, put this style of writing to them, and made it work anywhere close to as well as Shaw does here. So I'm torn on how to review this, but I'm leaning more towards the “brilliant” side of things.Plot: the Loony family have gathered at the beach house after a stunning announcement: mom and dad (Maggie and David) are getting divorced after forty years. The news understandably shakes their three kids, and the extended families of each. The oldest of the three, Dennis, is a classic type A personality, with a loving, if stressed wife, Aki, and a newborn son. Dennis treats the split as a mystery; he wants to know why it's happening, and Maggie and David are either not being forthcoming, or simply don't know the answer themselves, so Dennis digs deeper and deeper into the accumulated detritus of forty years of crap in the basement to try and find an answer. The middle child, Claire, is divorced and raising a teenaged daughter (Jill) by herself. She acknowledges the split, but having a great deal more firsthand experience with divorce, takes it in stride and spends more time with Aki reminiscing about her own childhood days, using the vacation as a halfhearted attempt to find herself and an even more halfhearted (quarterhearted?) attempt to bond with Jill. Peter is the youngest son, the polar opposite of Dennis in every way. Shy, unassuming, socially unskilled. (Shaw draws him, in fact, as a frog; he is the only anthropomorphic character in the book.) While that's the basics, the book starts out attempting to give everyone equal time, but quickly starts focusing on Jill and Peter. Peter, after getting dating advice from Jill (despite Jill being half Peter's age, this doesn't feel at all out of the ordinary; Peter is that socially inept), meets a camp counselor who lives a couple of houses down the beach, and hesitantly embarks on his first love affair, while Jill, at first unable to let go of her relationships with school friends in the city, soon finds herself forced to do so through circumstances and needing to find a way to connect with a family that, seemingly, has no connections. It all sounds very Kramer vs. Kramer with a bigger family when I describe it like that, but as I was reading it, my mind kept bringing me back to Tracy Letts' August: Osage County instead. Not necessarily because of the family-secrets angle, though there are a few uncovered here, but because of the characters' reactions to the existence of those family secrets, and how they all play out. Every once in a while, Shaw throws in something that's simple, and yet somehow jaw-dropping. The biggest surprise in the book lasts all of a single frame (while at least one review has revealed it, I won't), and it's exactly the kind of thing that separates the kind of books that try this I normally despise and Bottomless Belly Button. Portions of it are still frustrating, especially the denouement, but it's still an incredible book, and one that deserves your time and attention. ****
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  • Zoe
    January 8, 2014
    I adore graphic novels. I really do. I’ve always held a sort of awesome appreciation for them. Novels describe things in detail, but part of being a reader is you inadvertently decide what someone, someplace or even what sometime looks like the second you read about it, regardless of what the actual description is. This is how I came to believe for a long time that Dean Thomas from Harry Potter was a white dude. Of course I didn’t particularly care one way or another what ethnicity this fictiona I adore graphic novels. I really do. I’ve always held a sort of awesome appreciation for them. Novels describe things in detail, but part of being a reader is you inadvertently decide what someone, someplace or even what sometime looks like the second you read about it, regardless of what the actual description is. This is how I came to believe for a long time that Dean Thomas from Harry Potter was a white dude. Of course I didn’t particularly care one way or another what ethnicity this fictional supporting character was, but the realization did surprise me more than a little. Whereas graphic novels force you to see the story’s universe exactly as it is. There’s no way you can pretend someone has blond hair or is short when you’re looking right at them, and they’re brunette and really fucking tall. There’s also more room to play in graphic novels. You want to write a graphic novel where the Holocaust is recounted by a Polish man— but the different races are represented as different kinds of animals? By Jove, we’ve got a genius here! And you want to write a story about an alternate history where superheroes help America win the Vietnam War and as a result starts edging toward a nuclear war with the Soviet Union? Alriiiiight! And both of those are examples of graphic novels that are frequently touted as modern literature, with good reason. Anyway, the thing about graphic novels is that they often have that zany plot line that you wouldn’t normally see in a plain novel. Which is why it surprised me so much to find this one. Bottomless Belly Button is the story of the most realistically dysfunctional family I’ve ever heard of. You have your three kids, two grand kids and two grandparents. The story starts with them all in the middle of dinner at the grandparent’s beach house, when Grandma and Grandpa announce that they are getting divorced after forty years of marriage. This sets off a chain reaction of… Well, reactions. Most of the family are ambivalent, some are entirely unconcerned and one goes batshit crazy trying to figure out why this happening. I won’t reveal who reacts which way. This graphic novel is heartbreaking in it’s normalcy. It has themes of intense loneliness, depression and confusion over how things happen and why. I found myself getting anxious over the smallest details and shortest scenes, because those were the ones that were most relatable. I don’t have a favorite character, and I doubt anyone could pick one character that stood out the most. They were all real and cringeworthy and funny and each had their own background and thread to follow. I felt every second of this story, but didn’t cry until the end. Which I think was Mr. Shaw’s goal. I really can’t say anymore, and it kills me to give you guys so little to go on, but I think it’ll be worth it in the end.If you want an amazingly quick read, give this a shot. If you want to feel like your hearts been ripped out and danced upon, read this now. If you want to wince at odd moments and appear slightly crazy to passerby, this is for you. This graphic novel is lovely.
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  • David
    September 6, 2008
    I just finished this huge graphic novel, and I’m still processing. In fact, I think I need to read it again, soon. This vast and vastly original graphic novel is not so much about navel-gazing (as the title might suggest) as it is about... er, life. And family and intimacy and the stories we construct around our lives and our unpredictable emotional weather and... well, I probably should have stopped at ‘life.’ Siblings Dennis, Claire and Peter are called together to a family reunion that kicks I just finished this huge graphic novel, and I’m still processing. In fact, I think I need to read it again, soon. This vast and vastly original graphic novel is not so much about navel-gazing (as the title might suggest) as it is about... er, life. And family and intimacy and the stories we construct around our lives and our unpredictable emotional weather and... well, I probably should have stopped at ‘life.’ Siblings Dennis, Claire and Peter are called together to a family reunion that kicks off with the announcement of their father and mother’s divorce after forty years of marriage. Each child has their own story. Elder brother Dennis has problems coping with the divorce – problems which may turn out to reside closer to home than he thinks. Younger brother Peter – whose tendency towards being an outsider is mad manifest by his frog’s head - belatedly loses his virginity, with all the attendant awkwardness and vulnerability laid bare in excruciating detail. Claire is rather unfazed by the news, too busy trying to raise her teenage daughter, herself a tangle of unresolved body issues. Despite all these raw nerves and unresolved emotions, the book resists soap opera, spacing out the dysfunctional drama of this watershed week at the shore with more spare cinematic passages that linger on seemingly insignificant little human moments, the details of life, as well as refocusing on the physical world around in little taxonomies of inner and outer reality. Graphic novels often call for cinematic comparisons, and this vivid journey through human frailty is definitely an art-house flick – something by Ingmar Bergman or maybe Lars Von Trier or the best of serious Woody Allen, and like the best of their work it is ultimately indeterminate, with a great lingering aftertaste. Okay, I’ve got to give it another read.
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  • Lars Guthrie
    August 15, 2009
    I've been having extraordinary luck hitting on extraordinary examples of graphic novels recently. Here's another one. The semi-primitive drawing and confessional tone put me in mind of David Heatley's 'My Brain is Hanging Upside Down,' although this is a full-blown, even epic narrative (if a week with a dysfunctional family reuniting to inaugurate the parents' divorce can be epic in scope). The weightiness reminded me of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's 'A Drifting Life'--some 700 plus pages--a format that i I've been having extraordinary luck hitting on extraordinary examples of graphic novels recently. Here's another one. The semi-primitive drawing and confessional tone put me in mind of David Heatley's 'My Brain is Hanging Upside Down,' although this is a full-blown, even epic narrative (if a week with a dysfunctional family reuniting to inaugurate the parents' divorce can be epic in scope). The weightiness reminded me of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's 'A Drifting Life'--some 700 plus pages--a format that is pure joy. If you want to go to another world for a few hours and learn more about your own, read this. I especially liked the use of language connected to image. For example a two-tone sunset popping with words--'purples,''pinks,''pinks,''purples,''pinks,' etc.--or a hand feeling for a dotted-line doorknob in a dark punctuated by stroboscopic words--'cold,''smooth,''knob,''doorknob.' Shaw has said this book is about perspective. The angle that we perceive from is hardly objective. It's a function of language and culture, what is said and what is not said. This fits in with the revelations about brain plasticity found in Norman Doidge's 'The Brain That Changes Itself,' and studies conduced by Standford psych prof Lera Boroditsky which suggest 'that the grammar we learn from our parents, whether we realize it or not, affects our sensual experience of the world' (quote from an April 6 NPR story). A provocative, revolutionary work based in the everyday and ordinary. Highly recommended.
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  • Brad
    October 12, 2009
    Dash Shaw's visual style, technique, and storytelling is innovative and gripping. His use of text-as-art reminds me of Hope Larson's (much prettier) work. He has the guts (or patience or balls) to leave blank space halfway through 9 or 16 panel grids. He wastes pages, either with half panels or full page, full impact splashes like no one since Craig Thompson. Every single prominent review mentions that one panel where you see Peter's face. (It's pretty great.)This book is long. Shaw's art made m Dash Shaw's visual style, technique, and storytelling is innovative and gripping. His use of text-as-art reminds me of Hope Larson's (much prettier) work. He has the guts (or patience or balls) to leave blank space halfway through 9 or 16 panel grids. He wastes pages, either with half panels or full page, full impact splashes like no one since Craig Thompson. Every single prominent review mentions that one panel where you see Peter's face. (It's pretty great.)This book is long. Shaw's art made me not want to put it down. But now I'm not sure I'll remember the story for very long. (I had to read some review to recall the Loony's family name.) The story--how an elderly couple's divorce affects their visiting kids--produces plenty of angst and a bit of mystery. Too bad none of the kids are all that likable or realistic. Shaw seems to invest the most weight in Peter, and his frog face, but the idea that he'd disappear from his family for days unnoticed or make a bad short film based on a bad high school almost-girlfriend strain belief a bit. If Shaw can pair his awesome ideas about comics with a more engaging story, he'll be unvanquishable.
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  • Andrew
    December 25, 2008
    This is alt-comics by the numbers. The obsessive attention to mundane details, the diagrams, the quirky page designs, the daddy issues, the sarcastic and confused teen girls, the general patheticness of the majority of the cast: all these elements come straight from previous books by Chris Ware and/or Daniel Clowes. Fortunately, Dash Shaw knows how to entertain. The dialogue is uniformly sharp, and a few bits are even laugh-out-loud funny. Some favorites of mine include Chill Jill meeting "the n This is alt-comics by the numbers. The obsessive attention to mundane details, the diagrams, the quirky page designs, the daddy issues, the sarcastic and confused teen girls, the general patheticness of the majority of the cast: all these elements come straight from previous books by Chris Ware and/or Daniel Clowes. Fortunately, Dash Shaw knows how to entertain. The dialogue is uniformly sharp, and a few bits are even laugh-out-loud funny. Some favorites of mine include Chill Jill meeting "the nicest person" on a bus, only to have them hit her up for money and walk away, Peter's desperate struggle to get out an unfortunate t-shirt stain, Aki's battle against a sheet that just won't fit right on the bed (this happens to me always), and the one-date "Top Three Reasons We Didn't Work Out" note that Peter receives. Best of all, Shaw captures the hazy, lazy feeling of beach houses and boring family vacations perfectly with his sand-toned artwork and his breezy, shambling pacing. It may be derivative as all hell, but "Bottomless Belly Button" is a lot more fun than most of the stuff it rips off, and hey, the ending even affected me a bit emotionally. I liked it. Thanks, Alece!!
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  • Julian
    June 12, 2011
    I did not heed the advice of the author but read this straight through in one sitting, taking no breaks between each part. The result was simply enjoyment and the somehow animated quality the characters have taken in my memory.The style is cartoonish but the content is not. Truth be told I was not sure if I would enjoy the book as I started to read but, I was sucked into a fairly realistic plot. It chronicles the development of a family, building the characters somewhat loosely but in a way that I did not heed the advice of the author but read this straight through in one sitting, taking no breaks between each part. The result was simply enjoyment and the somehow animated quality the characters have taken in my memory.The style is cartoonish but the content is not. Truth be told I was not sure if I would enjoy the book as I started to read but, I was sucked into a fairly realistic plot. It chronicles the development of a family, building the characters somewhat loosely but in a way that gives an firm impression. They become somewhat like acquaintances - you know them and are familiar with their habits and quirks but when asked to describe them can give only vague answers.I enjoyed Peter - the depressed 26 year old who feels awkward most of the time, his real appearance only shown once through the eyes of his 19 year old, new found first love (the rest of the time he looks like a frog), and his general apathy toward the familial goings on.All in all there are elements here that people will recognize from their own lives or the lives of those around them. The confusion of relationships and getting to oneself and others, the mysteries of our parents, break-ups, the sometimes impossible to fathom nature of separation, and the struggle to understand it all.
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  • Francisco Bó
    February 11, 2017
    Muy humano y con capacidad de movilizar. Es altamente cinematográfico, un placer de leer y dejarse contar la historia.
  • Kricket
    June 12, 2008
    i found this lengthy graphic novel very intriguing, but once i came to the end i felt like i had missed some important information while reading. i did read it over the span of several weeks, so i figured it was me and started over. got halfway through again and decided it wasn't me, it was dash shaw. the style is interesting. shaw is clearly a talented artist, but all of his characters are really unpleasant to look at. there's lots of shots of them being sad in the shower. some of them constant i found this lengthy graphic novel very intriguing, but once i came to the end i felt like i had missed some important information while reading. i did read it over the span of several weeks, so i figured it was me and started over. got halfway through again and decided it wasn't me, it was dash shaw. the style is interesting. shaw is clearly a talented artist, but all of his characters are really unpleasant to look at. there's lots of shots of them being sad in the shower. some of them constantly wear gloves. i'm sure this is symbolic of something but i cannot tell you what. i thought about delving into this but ultimately decided i didn't care."pretentious" is a word i might use for this book. but i still liked it, in a weird sort of way. i can't really explain it.
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  • Andrés Santiago
    July 25, 2011
    This was OK, the drawing is a bit meh, but the author overcomes that with an innovative storytelling. It feels like another attemp to write the "great american graphic novel". Sorry but, in my opinion, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan is still in the lead. Worthwhile reading but couldn't but feel a bit disappointed, after all the hype, the two different covers... Just another novel about a disfunctional family in crisis.
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  • Kat Desi
    December 23, 2014
    This is one of the weirdest things I have ever read in my life. I'm not usually a fan of graphic novels since the graphics usually distract me -- I know, don't ask. But I managed to get through this because the text and/or dialogues is minimal. I felt disturbed after finishing this. It is also slightly depressing...
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  • Gláucia Renata
    August 27, 2015
    Porque algumas coisas precisam de explicação.Histórico de leitura1% (7 de 720)"Existem vários tipos de areia."
  • John Isaacson
    February 28, 2015
    Genius east coast family drama. Comics wizardry.
  • André Sá
    April 25, 2015
    A vida retratada em traços simples, marrons e sinceros. Um encaixe perfeito, porém não eterno.
  • Kira
    February 24, 2017
    It was strange, and enjoyable, and hauntingly written. I enjoyed it and would recommend to some people, but not all people.
  • Batmark
    December 17, 2015
    http://morethansuperhumans.blogspot.c...After forty years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony summon their three grown children to their beach house to announce that they are getting a divorce. Dennis, their oldest son, takes this news the hardest and, when his parents refuse to elucidate the reasons for their decision, he takes it upon himself to try and solve the mystery. His sister, Claire, uses the visit to bond with Dennis's wife, Aki, while Claire's teenage daughter, Jill, visits a friend http://morethansuperhumans.blogspot.c...After forty years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony summon their three grown children to their beach house to announce that they are getting a divorce. Dennis, their oldest son, takes this news the hardest and, when his parents refuse to elucidate the reasons for their decision, he takes it upon himself to try and solve the mystery. His sister, Claire, uses the visit to bond with Dennis's wife, Aki, while Claire's teenage daughter, Jill, visits a friend in the city. Meanwhile, Peter, the youngest sibling, who seems to have spent most of his life alienated from the rest of the family, spends as much of his time as possible away from everyone else and meets a girl named Kat on the beach. As his parents' relationship comes to an end, Peter begins one of his own, with all the awkwardness and misunderstandings that the early stages of a burgeoning romance often entail.Bottomless Belly Button reflect Tolstoy's idea that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. It is a book in which not much happens but, instead, Dash Shaw explores a singular, transformative event (i.e., divorce) in a family by focusing on the inconclusive conversations, subdued emotional interactions, and various coping mechanisms that are typically sparked by such a painful revelation.But this hook is really just a way for Shaw to follow his characters as they continue going about their lives as they cope with this news. Peter, the outcast, is by far the most interesting character to me, not least because he imagines himself as resembling a frog (and thus that is the way in which Shaw illustrates him--with the exception of one telling instance). But each character has his or her moment in the spotlight, with those moments amounting to not much more than going for a jog on the beach, shopping for groceries, taking a bath, and so on.The book is aptly named, for there's a lot of navel-gazing going on here. But Shaw is a deft storyteller and kept me engaged with his characters. As in real life, there isn't much of a resolution to this story, but the book nonetheless feels complete.
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  • A.
    December 2, 2008
    Best book I've read all year, and I would say the best graphic novel of the last five years or possibly of the 2000s. Absolutely incredible, thrilling, captivating, hilarious, dark but never misanthropic and always humane, and riddled with dozens of great new storytelling techniques. I described it to a friend like so: "It's like if Chester Brown set out to do everything Chris Ware wishes he could do, but funnier."It shares the same obsessive detailing of minutiae as Ware's --- every detail of e Best book I've read all year, and I would say the best graphic novel of the last five years or possibly of the 2000s. Absolutely incredible, thrilling, captivating, hilarious, dark but never misanthropic and always humane, and riddled with dozens of great new storytelling techniques. I described it to a friend like so: "It's like if Chester Brown set out to do everything Chris Ware wishes he could do, but funnier."It shares the same obsessive detailing of minutiae as Ware's --- every detail of each person's backstories, all the house plans, coded letters. Certainly not the draftsmanship of Ware's drawing (which I find kind of distracting sometimes, actually --- it took me a long time to realize (and then to believe) Jimmy Corrigan hadn't been put together in Illustrator), or his extreme condensation of detail in space.Hence the Ches comparison: same kind of thing he does (or did early on) with a lot of negative space on the page; loose placement of panels; itchy, narrow lines. Also totes had a "Ed the Happy Clown" looseness & weirdness, but matched his more intimate stuff, too. Full of those tiny one-panel surprise epiphanies that throw everything into a different perspective, esp. that one look at the youngest brother as seen from the perspective of his girlfriend. So good.If you want to see some other great work of Dash Shaw (author, who I'd never heard of before finding this book at the library, check out http://dashshaw.com/prelude.html for his online color serial, 'BodyWorld.' It is extremely rich and extremely drugged out (as some kind of warning, to those who dislike drugs in stories?), updated every Tuesday with pages and pages worth of gorgeous, bizarre material that once again is warm and true to its characters, no matter how malignant or innocent they are. I have a new favorite guy.
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  • Holly
    October 24, 2013
    This book is depressing, so expect that going into it.Basically it is the story of a not-very-close grown up family meeting at their parents' house and finding out that their parents are getting a divorce. From there the book tracks the three children and how they deal with the news. The oldest son lashes out. The middle daughter, who also got divorced, seems to understand. The youngest son, who is supposed to be the weird one and is drawn like a frog, wanders around aimlessly and winds up falli This book is depressing, so expect that going into it.Basically it is the story of a not-very-close grown up family meeting at their parents' house and finding out that their parents are getting a divorce. From there the book tracks the three children and how they deal with the news. The oldest son lashes out. The middle daughter, who also got divorced, seems to understand. The youngest son, who is supposed to be the weird one and is drawn like a frog, wanders around aimlessly and winds up falling in love for the first time.There are some beautiful moments in this book. Some of them in the content (there is a great scene where the granddaughter is riding a bus with a stranger about her age, who has been asking her all sorts of questions about her life. The granddaughter tells her that she is the nicest person she's ever met, and the girl responds with, "But you don't even know me.") and some is just the art. Shaw sometimes labels the content of his drawing, most notably dust motes and steam in the bathroom after characters take showers, which is oddly beautiful.To be very honest, I should probably give this book a higher rating than I am. But the cover made me think I was going to read something a little bit supernatural, so I was a little confused at first. And the book itself is just so sad. It is about the average scumbags of the world. That guy who is way too old to have temper tantrums, but does anyways. That woman who tries to make her daughter into a person who she will like better. That relationship that does not work but will not die because one of the people in it talks too much and listens too little and the other one has given up trying.I guess my criticism is simply one of taste. I like a book that, after it thoroughly depresses me, offers hope or inspires change. This book is pretty much just a downer. The light moments are just as average as the dark ones and the dark ones outnumber the light ones.
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  • Chazzbot
    July 16, 2010
    Though bulky in size, this graphic novel reads quickly, detailing the sexual and emotional dysfunctions of the Loony family. The novel depicts the gathering of the Loony's adult children as their parents (now well into retirement age) announce their divorce. Each character is given a distinct storyline, which Dash depicts honestly and authentically. Each character's particular quirks are dealt with in roughly equal fashion, providing a nice overview of a family in various stages of relationships Though bulky in size, this graphic novel reads quickly, detailing the sexual and emotional dysfunctions of the Loony family. The novel depicts the gathering of the Loony's adult children as their parents (now well into retirement age) announce their divorce. Each character is given a distinct storyline, which Dash depicts honestly and authentically. Each character's particular quirks are dealt with in roughly equal fashion, providing a nice overview of a family in various stages of relationships. I particularly admired Dash's device of depicting the youngest of the Loony siblings, Peter, as a frog; Peter explains that his sexual inexperience and distance in age from the rest of his siblings makes him feel like an amphibian. Though clever, this narrative device is also somewhat confusing, since every other character is depicted realistically, and Peter does not seem to be the central character of the novel. Dash's artwork is fairly crude, though he is adept at depicting abstract images of water and sand (recurring motifs throughout the novel) and is particularly skilled with panel layouts, segues, and transitions. Though Shaw's characters are realistic (if often annoyingly flawed), the novel doesn't provide much in the way of closure or narrative completeness. This helps to make the scenarios of the novel seem believable, but I was looking for more emotional fulfillment by the end of the novel, not ambiguity. A note about the physical characteristics of the edition I read: the sheer bulk of this graphic novel and the somewhat stiff paperback binding made this book uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time. This sensation was exacerbated by the format of the pages, which often contain as few as 1 or 2 panels, so that one is turning pages quickly. The format of this book does not suit the narrative well, and is not one to read comfortably in bed, as I discovered.
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  • George Marshall
    March 26, 2011
    This is a challenging book and it is hardly surprising that it polarises people. Personally I loved itIt is superficially simple and the drawing may appear rough- even crude (it is actually highly accomplished). The storyline - a family coming together for a last time in the house they grew up in to mark their parents' separation - does not create much narrative drive and is really a framework for Shaw to explore characters and themes. But the remarkable quality of this book is Shaw's very subtl This is a challenging book and it is hardly surprising that it polarises people. Personally I loved itIt is superficially simple and the drawing may appear rough- even crude (it is actually highly accomplished). The storyline - a family coming together for a last time in the house they grew up in to mark their parents' separation - does not create much narrative drive and is really a framework for Shaw to explore characters and themes. But the remarkable quality of this book is Shaw's very subtle and mature understanding of the comics medium and its potential and this may not be apparent to readers who are versed in conventional narrative. For example, in addition to the text he constantly pulls away from the narrative to draw people's subjective state and experience of their own bodies - one insecure character is shown throughout as a bemused frog except in one panel where he actually accepts that he could be attractive to a lover. It's a bizarre and risky experiment and it works supremely well. Shaw also creates complex visual themes that cut across the narrative (for example keys, doors, sand and water), and is constantly experimenting with time through the pacing and location of panels (a quality unique to comics) and space through the different ways he visualises the landscape and house. He also plays delightful games with the graphics, weaving conventional cartoon forms with aerial views, technical drawings, graphs, personal letters, and floor plans It is also - and here I disagree strongly with some of the other comments- very well scripted with an excellent ear for character and real speech patterns. Dash Shaw has far more writing talent than many other comics creators and does not have to depend on his own experience for his storylines.I found it totally absorbing, though I would not recommend it to someone as a first graphic novel to read.
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