Bottomless Belly Button

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NUMBER OF PAGES

720

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PUBLISHED BY

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED

July 2008

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“Dash Shaw brilliantly weaves the multiple story lines together to create a funny/tragic tale of a family at the brink of falling apart. I like Dash’s intelligently-restrained creativity with the comic medium... I was mesmerized through the entire book.” – Boing Boing

• 2009 Harvey Award Nominee: Best Graphic Album - Original

If the controversial R.D. Laing wrote an episode of
The Simpsons, it might read something like 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.

“Using
Peanuts-like comic strips in addition to pie charts, letters, and floor plans, Shaw draws an honest, meditative 720-page portrait of a multigenerational middle-class family...” – GQ, “The 20 Graphic Novels You Should Read (After Watchmen)”

“In the insular comics community, Shaw has made a name for himself (and a good one it is) by willfully eschewing the mainstream to follow his own decidedly original and peculiar muse.” –
Punk Planet

“Shaw draws the story of this family reunion with rare attention to detail, the lives of every family member young and old are explored with his nuanced pen. From the elegant cover to the closing panel, this is a powerful emotional story, and one I will recommend as an example of the heights graphic novels can attain.” –
Largehearted Boy

Bottomless Belly Button – 720 pages of knotty family drama, emotional teen angst, lyrical passages about nature, good jokes, bad parenting, architectural schematics, rudimentary codes, and explicit sex – has become the graphic novel of the year, combining youthful exuberance, sage storytelling, and visual experimentation.” – New York Magazine

“Dash Shaw’s mammoth new graphic novel is a sweeping tapestry of a family in crisis. It’s sad, it’s thoughtful, it’s dirty and funny and hesitant and right in your face...
Bottomless Belly Button even further establishes his credentials as a cartoonist you should be paying attention to. You find a lot of him inside his new book, but you’ll find even more of yourself.” – Alan David Doane, Comic Book Galaxy

“A clear candidate for book of the year.” –
Sequart

“Stunningly conceived and executed... Masterfully using the comics medium to juggle all the different characters, weaving their stories together seamlessly, Shaw allows the Loonys’ emotions to play out naturally without forced resolutions, leaving a wistful hopefulness that feels just as conflicted and confusing as every family is.” –
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Kaleidoscopic... Shaw has a deft touch... Like the very best illustrated fiction, Shaw’s work moves between pathos and humor, between the fantastic and the familiar.” –
The Christian Science Monitor

“Easily the best graphic novel of the year so far... a triumph of the form that is going to echo in my mind for quite some time.
Bottomless Belly Button is a book that made me laugh, think, smile, and finally, over a ten-page sequence at the end, weep like I’ve not in a very, very long time... Dash Shaw may be an artist and storyteller of the highest caliber, but his work here is refreshingly free of facade or ironic distance. Recommended very, very highly. In fact, this may be the Great American Graphic Novel I’d been waiting so long for.” – Kevin Church

“[Dash Shaw] seems to have managed to cross [the] strict border between painstakingly planned genius and slapdash brilliance... It’s enough to make a grown-up reviewer swoon.” –
The Stranger

“Engrossing... very compelling.” –
The New York Times

“One of my favorite books of the year.” –
USA Today

“Shaw’s dysfunctional-family epic is so funny and engrossing we’d expect Oprah to pick it, but for all the graphic frog sex.” – The Top Ten Graphic Novels of the Year (ranked #2),
New York Magazine

• Official Selection, 2009 Festival International de la Bande Dessinée de Angoulême

• 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

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REVIEWS

Publishers Weekly

•Publishing trade magazine

“Dash Shaw creates eclectic, inventive, and technically sophisticated comics that often work along the same principles Ezra Pound expounded for poetry: place two seemingly unlike things together, and readers will create a relationship between them.”

The AV Club

•Pop-culture website

“Cartoonist Dash Shaw displays the kind of ambition that comics could use more of in his graphic novel Bottomless Belly Button... Design-wise, Bottomless Belly Button is frequently stunning, as Shaw conveys shared memories and states of mind in a few poignant, impressionistic panels.”

The Comics Reporter

•Comics website and blog

“Bottomless Belly Button reaches so high and executes so much of what it does so well that it shames you into reconsidering every other book you may have praised recently. ...A work this humongous, this idiosyncratic and this almost totally devoid of pretension... is sort of a miracle. If there are better books this year, it will be a very good year.”