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BodyWorld (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Hardcover – April 13, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Questions for Dash Shaw on Bodyworld

Q: Bodyworld is about people who smoke a mysterious plant and can then read and feel each others’ thoughts. Where did you dream up that concept? Was there one event in particular that inspired it?
A: When I was in college I was really into figure drawing, and kept being involved in it after I graduated. When you’re drawing someone, part of it is imagining what it’s like to be inside of the person. You imagine yourself in their body, or look for a psychology in the kinds of poses they make or their face. I was also thinking about how to express how people think in comics, in ways outside of the normal thought balloons (which are just words). If you’re doing a book about telepathy, you’re really doing a book about how people think, and what it’s like to be inside of another person. So of course that leads to a strange, confusing, and funny, often goofy, story.

Q: Which character from Bodyworld was your favorite to dream up? Are any of them based on people in your life?
A: The main character, Paulie Panther, was the most fun for me. I think that shows on the page, especially during his interactions with some of the other characters, like Billy Borg. I can’t say that anyone was based on a specific, real person. The characters in Bodyworld are very stylized, cartoony, and unrealistic. I think they come more from my sense of humor than anything else.

Q: Which step (pencils, colors, etc.) is your favorite part of the drawing process?
A: For Bodyworld, it was the colors. I had done a lot of color comics before Bodyworld, but they were printed in grays because I didn’t know what I was doing. Color really freed me up. It was very playful. I work more unself-consciously in color, probably because for many years I was only interested in line drawing and black-and-white comics. It started to feel like my drawings were just an amalgamation of other people’s drawings, how someone else drew a hand or tree, but I didn’t have that baggage with color. The colors then helped my drawing, too. It’s hard to separate the different steps in Bodyworld, since all of the stages were integrated. It wasn’t like I did all of the drawings and then colored it. A lot of the pages moved back and forth between the drawing and the coloring stages. Because I don’t work inside of a system where I have to submit pencils, or ink a drawing and then color it--since I do everything--it allows me not to separate the stages in my mind.

Q: When did you know that cartooning was something you wanted to do full-time?
A: I always wanted to be a cartoonist, and have been doing comics all of my life. I’ve had a lot of friends who wanted to be cartoonists in high school and then stopped in college, and others who stopped after college. A lot of super-talented people stop. It’s a tragedy. I don’t know why I haven’t quit, but I think it’s because I enjoy it so much, while to others the cartooning process seems to be painful. It’s still fun for me. Comics aren’t something that you should want to procrastinate from doing, and they’re more fun to make than they are to read. It’s like a noncompetitive nonspectator sport. You have to keep at it; otherwise you get out of practice.

Q: David Mazzucchelli has called you "the future of comics." Where do you see comics heading in the future?
A: Right now in bookstores, all of the comics are grouped together: the reprints are right next to the contemporary comics, next to Marvel and DC, next to a nonfiction comic, etc. It’s as if you went into the book store and everything, all of it, was organized alphabetically. So I think what’ll happen in comics is that it’ll become more like other books, in that a Web cartoonist doesn’t necessarily read print comics, in the same way that some romance author doesn’t necessarily read the latest science fiction works. That’s already happening. But that’s unusual in comics. It’s usually been a small community. But, at the same time, I think there will be people who are viewing everything as a whole. So someone will like Robert Crumb, Otto Soglow, and Suehiro Maruo and then make comics that they’d want to read. Everything will move farther apart and also come closer together at the same time.

Q: What are your favorite graphic novels/comics? If you could name five comics that should be required reading, which would they be?
A: Answering that is too much pressure for me. I’m just going to suggest five comics that I read sort of recently, or are fresh on my mind, that I can recommend:
Black Blizzard by Tatsumi
The Clover Omnibus by CLAMP
Color stories by Guido Crepax in Heavy Metal
The recent Art in Time collection, edited by Dan Nadel, especially the Kona comic reprinted in there
New comics by Yuichi Yokoyama


From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A fantastic follow-up to Shaw's widely praised first full-length graphic novel, 2008's Bottomless Bellybutton, Body World treads very different territory. Boney Borough is a pastoral planned community in a dystopic future, where everyone knows each other's names and young romance blossoms at the high school die-ball games. But like all idyllic suburban communities, Boney Borough has a drug problem, and a newcomer, tweaked-out drug researcher Paulie Panther, takes advantage of it. Panther discovers a new kind of plant in the woods outside town, that, when smoked, allows people to telepathically experience one another's bodies and minds. Introduced to the local youth, the drug wreaks havoc with Boney Borough in some very unusual ways. First published as a serial comic on the author's Web site, the print version has added scenes, with gorgeous full-color pages to be read from top to bottom, as if you were scrolling through the story from beginning to end. This is key for the climactic scene, which unfurls in one extended panel. Shaw's willingness to experiment with his drawing style pays off particularly in pages portraying the effects of the drug with abstract blurring and melding of images. Another brilliant work that is sure to attract loads of attention and praise this year. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • Series: Pantheon Graphic Novels
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030737842X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307378422
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1.3 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #735,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I picked this up on a lark, sight unseen, knowing only one short piece of one of the author's previous works. Starting off as what seems like a punk-hipster world view of the future, full of sarcasm and commercialism critique, ends up being a sci-fi mindtrip with inventive presentation through the medium of comics. I was quite surprised by the concept as I got deeper into the story. A lot to think about after you finish! I did not care for the ending, there were deeper areas for exploration left undeveloped. However, what started out frivilous ended up being a book with real value and, perhaps consciousness expansion. Well worth your time.
BodyWorld
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent. There are some cool things about this book; the fact that it's vertically-oriented, has a flip-out map section, and is delightfully post-apocalyptic are just a few. The inking and story are top-notch, and foreshadow the coming collective consciousness mind-meld.. or something like that.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a sprawling and epic work with amazing design, clever use of color palettes and intriguing layouts. The narrative and characters, however, don't quite live up to the quality of the art and this is what ultimately prevents this tale of mind altering botanicals and alien conspiracies from becoming a legit 'must read.'
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Format: Hardcover
BodyWorld is a very unusual graphic novel. As soon as one picks it up one realizes there is something different about it. A rectangular book in shape, it is to be read not from left to right horizontally, but to be turned ninety degrees and read vertically from top to bottom - like a spiral-bound notepad. The inside front and back covers feature a fold-out character list to help the reader, as well as a grid-work detailed map of oranges, browns, greens and whites revealing where key locations are as related to in the story.

The year is 2060 and the place is Boney Borough. Paulie Panther has just arrived in town and he's a very strange fellow: a writer and botanist who spends his time sampling different plants by smoking them to see what alchemical effects they have on him, and then documenting these effects and reactions for scientific purposes. And in Boney Borough, near the high school, he has found the strangest and most unique plant ever. When smoked and ingested with a colleague, one's thoughts and dreams are exchanged and transferred, as two seem to become one. Dash Shaw does a wonderful job of using art and color to highlight this, with faces and features intertwining, as the colors mix and swirl, and the crazy ideas perform a strange dance.

Paulie Panther lives in a world where he is pretty much always half-stoned. In his studies he meets and befriends the teacher Miss Jewel, who he clearly has the hots for. Then there is Billy Borg and Pearl Peach, high school sweethearts who are having some problems, especially when Paulie Panther gets stuck in the middle of everything and ends up bringing the whole town against him in the form of a mob.

BodyWorld is a special story you won't read anywhere else.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had previously read the first few chapters of Bodyworld online, but after hearing about the print edition I decided to wait for the rest. I'm glad I did, the book is gorgeous. The vertical binding is a nice touch, imitating the reading scroll from the online version. The colors pop off the page and the fold out maps are a really cool feature. Check this out if you liked the Unclothed Man or Bottomless Belly Button.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
lots of weird drugs and surreal drama.
strange drawing style. if you liked Asterios Polyp this one is as much strange as that one.
you can see this free on authors pages but then you will decide to buy it anyway like me.
Mazzucchelli even described it as "future of comics".... and he was right.
totally mind blowing. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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