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Motel Art Improvement Service GN Hardcover

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Motel Art Improvement Service GN + Shutterbug Follies: Graphic Novel (Doubleday Graphic Novels)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595825509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595825506
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 9.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #930,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


When Jason Little's Shutterbug Follies came out in 2002, it should have been Little's leap into the comic book big time. Instead, it was part of Doubleday's ill-fated graphic novel line that was shut down almost immediately upon arrival, and a book that's part of a dead imprint is slated for publishing limbo at best.

I'm glad that Little and his heroine Bee are getting a second chance now, courtesy Dark Horse and Motel Art Improvement Service. Don't worry if you never read Shutterbug Follies (although by the time you're done here, you'll probably want to); all you really need to know is that Bee is a dangerous combination of smart and slightly nosy. Here, she's starting out on a cross-country bike ride, but an accident strands her in a motel and that's where she meets a most unusual staffer. The next thing you know, Motel Art Improvement Service has turned into a story involving defacement of hotel art, a recreational drug ring, and a possible romance.

Motel Art Improvement Service is silly and funny and suspenseful, all bound up into one. Little is careful to make Bee both likable and also imperfect; she makes some bad decisions along the way, and her curiosity gets her into trouble as much as it saves her. She's a great protagonist, though; you want to see her succeed from start to finish. Cyrus is a good counter for Bee, because at first he seems to be a fun and interesting person. The further the book goes along, the more I found myself irritated by Cyrus. Bee can do better was the thought that kept running through my head, and watching their relationship go up and down kept me interested throughout the book.

Little's art pops off the page, with bright colors and an iconic, clean look. The landscape format of the comic gives Little room to move across the page, bringing to mind Sunday newspaper comic strips. At the same time, though, Little still plays with layouts, not sticking with just two rows of rectangular panels. My favorite part of the art in Motel Art Improvement Service has got to be over the top expressions of PFC Johnson as he goes nuclear over the missing drugs. He's simultaneously menacing and funny, and it's just the right balance that we see throughout the book. It's dramatic, it's funny, it's the whole package.

Motel Art Improvement Service is a welcome return for Little to the graphic novel world. Hopefully it won't be quite so long a wait next time. Just be warned that once you're done, you'll probably also want to read Shutterbug Follies.Don't worry: it's great, too. --Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resource

Another Dark Horse release that has everything Shepherd's Tale lacks: Jason Little's Shutterbug Follies follow-up Motel Art Improvement Service, a terrific standalone hardcover that's rich enough to support a film adaptation, but makes such good use of the medium that it would be a shame to budge it from its intended shape. Shutterbug protagonist Bee starts the story by heading out on a cross-country bike trip that s quickly derailed by a close encounter with a car full of a**holes; washing up at a dull-looking motel, she runs across a man who's secretly swapping out the rooms generic art for surreal improved versions of his own design. Her social (and sexual) pursuit of him is delicate, humanistic adventure with a bit of quirk, but once he explains what he does and why, and the story moves on, it expands to incorporate action, suspense, and a dose of slapstick. Little's mildly cartoony art style is unfussy enough to be friendly and accessible without putting undue realism on a surreal story, but he s accomplished at designing unusual characters without caricaturing them, and the whole book has a richly idiosyncratic feel that recalls a more playful, lively version of Ghost World, but in rich color. This isn't Serious High Comic Art to be placed on the shelf alongside Maus, but it s something equally good: a book that perfectly, skillfully accomplishes everything it sets out to do... A --A.V. Club

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Stern on January 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I really loved Motel Art Improvement service. I read this book first and then got Shutterbug Follies. They are both great books, but this one is probably my favorite of the 2. Little has a knack for writing fun complex stories and there is really great character development, particularly for Bee. Great Book Highly Recommend it. I'm so glad I found it in the new releases at my local comic shop, I can't wait for Little's newest book to come...
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Format: Hardcover
It's the start of the summer and Bee is an 18 year old Mahattanite setting out on her bicycle to San Francisco for the adventure of a lifetime - and to lose her virginity along the way. After an unfortunate accident, Bee winds up at the Green Pine Inn where she meets Cyrus, an artist who uses his cleaning job to sneak mundane motel paintings to his room and alter them before putting them back. Together they set out to make motel art everywhere more interesting. But Cyrus' unfortunate pill habit will get them into a scrape with a boorish soldier on leave and a pair of student drug dealers in an enormous hotel shaped like an eye. The things artists do for the sake of their art eh?

I picked up "Motel Art Improvement Service" on a whim as I liked the art which reminded me of Nick Bertozzi's stuff, an artist/writer whose work I've enjoyed. Jason Little's book turned out to be a revelation! It starts slowly with Bee coming across as a kind of hipster before Little starts adding intriguing elements like the mysterious Cyrus and the various plot threads that eventually mix together perfectly toward the end. I was committed long before that though.

Little's character work on Bee is top-notch and she comes across as a fully-realised character with a charming personality and her relationship with Cyrus is completely believable and expertly written. As good as the writing and storytelling is, the artwork is the star of this book. I mentioned Bertozzi but the more I saw of it, the more I noticed that Little's style has more in common with Herge and his clear line approach. The book reads a lot like Tintin minus Snowy plus a lot of sex and drugs - an awesome combination especially when done this well!
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By B. Wolinsky on November 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
She also has some other wacky adventures. It's colorful, it's fun, it's a great book to read while you're stuck on the tarmac in a Jetblue aircraft for 8 hours. Think of it as Tintin with a sexually active protagonist.
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