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Shutterbug Follies: Graphic Novel (Doubleday Graphic Novels) Hardcover – October 8, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Originally serialized as both a weekly newspaper comic strip and a web comics serial, Little's first full-length graphic novel (following his award-winning short book Jack's Luck Runs Out) is a witty, lighter-than-air murder mystery with a hugely likeable young sleuth. Scrappy 18-year-old Bee is working in a New York photo lab when a picture of a naked female corpse that's not quite what it appears to be piques her interest. Her amateur investigation of its photographer leads her to an ever-deepening mystery, a friendly cab driver, a cute but nervous photo assistant, some scary doings with the Russian mob and finally, into deadly danger. Little made his reputation on the alternative comics scene as an experimentalist, but he's also a natural storyteller. It takes a rereading or two to notice just how varied and complicated his techniques are (many of them are borrowed from photography, like the "fisheye lens" he uses in a few dramatic panels, or the rounded panel borders that suggest old-fashioned snapshots). The narrative flows gorgeously through quiet domestic moments, action scenes and a hair-raising dream sequence. Stylish and graceful, Little's figures and compositions suggest a grimier urban version of Belgian comics master Herg‚'s classic Tintin books. He captures New York City's animated density and diversity with his pop-art, candy-colored palette.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Shortly after starting work at a photo-processing shop in downtown Manhattan, Bee, 18, develops several pictures of dead bodies, some brought in by crime-scene photographer Oleg Khatchatourian. Now, developing pictures of "cats, babies, birthdays and vacations" isn't exciting, so she becomes a detective in the spirit of Nancy Drew, to determine whether or not Khatchatourian had something to do with his wife's demise. The horizontal layout and varying frame sizes propel the action to a fever pitch. Little's use of color is strong as well, with the photo-negative images adding a layer of mystery. Even the shape of the book, like a photo album, continues the artist's theme. The city of New York is a strong character, too, with its ethnic restaurants, crowded subway cars, niche galleries, and rock clubs. The New York Public Library even makes a few appearances as Bee researches her hunches with microfilm and the Merck Manual. The young woman is a plucky, indefatigable heroine who climbs out of bathroom windows and up fire escapes, and goes on high-speed car chases with a taxi driver/musician. With nearly implausible coincidences, a dash of slapstick humor, and a few red herrings, this is a detective romp, and the ending panel leaves readers breathlessly awaiting a sequel.
Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Doubleday Graphic Novels
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385503466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385503464
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.6 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #919,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cartoonist Jason Little's latest book, Borb (Uncivilized Books, 2015), depicts the brutally hilarious slapstick decline of a severely alcoholic homeless man. He is also the author of two graphic novels featuring "Bee", his plucky, redheaded, pear-shaped girl protagonist. Doubleday published the first volume, Shutterbug Follies, which won two Ignatz awards (in 2001 and 2002). The second, Motel Art Improvement Service, was published by Dark Horse and was an Eisner Award finalist in 2010. His Xeric-grant-winning Jack's Luck Runs Out was the first Xeric book to be printed in full color.
Jason is a frequent contributor to R. Sikoryak's Carousel series of cartoon slide shows. He also draws anaglyph stereo 3D comics, and performs 3D conversions on other cartoonists' work as well. Jason has been teaching cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York City since 2003.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've actually read this entire book, when it was on Jason Little's webpage. But I'm actually going to shell out the money for this book, which is surprising, because I rarely pay for any media I've already seen or can borrow from a friend. Why do I want this book bad enough to pay for it?
Simply put, Jason Little breathes life into the supposedly dead genre of action comics. But, unlike most neo-action comics, this piece doesn't rely heavily on "fighting the man" or some other deconstrutionist fantasy; it's an interesting story that would still work as a short story or novel, even without the stunning art. Reading this book is like watching a really really good movie and, best of all, one doesn't even have to be a "comic nerd" to like it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By FictionAddiction.NET on December 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One of the most common tidbits of literary advice that writers hear is to "show, not tell." In traditional fiction, this refers to describing what is happening rather than the narrator interpreting and justifying what occurs in a given scene.
This same advice, in a very literal sense applies equally well for the graphic novelist. Ideally, the only items that need to be "told" would be the dialogue between characters. The "showing" is done through graphics.
In "Shutterbug Follies" this advice is followed very well. The characters speak only when the pictures do not clearly show what their actions represent. The pictures decisively show characters taking action creating and solving problems. The dialogue is crisp and to the point. Dialects are handled, not with phonetic spellings, but with variations in syntax.
In many ways, the graphic novel shares a lot with film. Both are visual media that rely heavily on the audience knowing only what can be shown pictorially. The advantage that the graphic novel has is that one person's vision dominates the development of the story. This gives Shutterbug Follies a focus and consistency that many films lack.
"Shutterbug Follies" is the story of Bee, an eighteen year old girl, who by day works at a photo-mat deep in New York City. By night, she shares copies of the more interesting photos with her friend Lyla. When a photo of a female corpse in a bathtub catches her eye, Bee investigates further. She risks her life several times as she unravels the mystery behind the body.
This story is well told, with a drawing style that is simple and direct. The pacing draws the reader forward smoothly and efficiently. There are no subtle, deeper meanings in this narrative and these illustrations.
Jason Little's latest work, the graphic novel "Shutterbug Follies," is a pleasant diversion for an afternoon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
if you like the works of daniel clowes then this graphic novel will have you flipping page after page. this girl (fabulously named "bee") lives in brooklyn and works at a photoshop developing pictures. one day she gets a batch of suspicious pictures from a famous russian photographerand soon she is hot on what seems to bea murder case. jason little pours some of his best skills into the one. definatly something to share with your friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Shutterbug Follies is wonderful. I have been following the episodes on Mr Little's web page ...waiting anxiously for the next episode. His drawing is wonderful, the colors are beautiful, and his unique perspective views are amazing. Yay for Bee!
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By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Set in 2001, Bee is a young Manhattanite working in a photo-processing shop (remember those?) and, among the usual hum-drum photos of birthday parties and babies, she comes across some lurid photos of recently deceased people. The Russian photographer who took them claims they are staged and not actual dead people but Bee's curiosity is piqued and she decides to follow him... with startling results! Part Tintin, part "Ghost World" in tone, Jason Little's "Shutterbug Follies" presents a whimsical version of New York City and introduces a charming protagonist in a strange odyssey of high art, gangsters and murder most foul.

While the story isn't as brilliant as his other Bee-featured book "Motel Art Improvement Service", "Shutterbug Follies" is a gently amusing romp with a colourful cast of characters. Little's strong plotting keeps the story ticking over nicely as Bee explores Manhattan as a kind of hipster Nancy Drew. Her pleasant and approachable attitude to life easily makes her friends with odd characters like a middle aged rocker moonlighting as a cabbie or an artist's assistant hiding from his tough guy neighbour after being caught photographing his wife (it's for art, honest!). The chance meetings with these minor characters send her in different directions but Little collects the disparate threads, masterfully tying them into a coherent story.

Little has a good sense of knowing when to let the pictures tell the story and when to insert dialogue. There are no narrative boxes so the reader has to interpret panels by looking at characters' faces and body language rather than rely on thought bubbles or an omnipresent narrative voice. It's very subtle, artistic and feels very naturalistic to read.
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Format: Hardcover
Although this book first appeared in serial form in a weekly newspaper and online, I''d never heard of it until I stumbled across a copy in the library. I'll give just about any graphic novel a few pages to hook me, and this one reeled me in. The story revolves around 18-year-old Bee, a Manahattanite just out of high school, working at a local photo store. Running the processing machine gives the budding photographer ample opportunity to peer into the lives of others. And when she sees something interesting, she prints out an extra copies to shows to her art-school buddy Lyla, over cups of coffee.

Of course, one day, she sees some photos of corpses so strange and real that she gets curious. Soon, she is following a Russian-Armenian wanna-be Weegee across boroughs with the help of a friendly taxi driver, as she tries to figure out if she's looking at snuff shots, well-staged fakes, or simply the work of a genius. Basically, Bee is a classic teen busybody of the Nancy Drew meets Scooby Doo ("If it hadn't been for you pesky kids!") variety, and her investigation is similarly spunky. Before too long, she's got herself into a tight spot and only her quick wits can save her!

The book is fun, but not perfect. The supporting cast is well developed, but tend to walk on stage to perform their little function in the plot, and then disappear. That keeps the story moving at a nice pace, but also somewhat mechanical.
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