I'd had several false starts with this book, taking it off and putting back on the shelf, feeling like I should want to read it, but finding myself put off by the drawing style. Its that sort of "careless" style affected by quite a number of cartoonists lately, scratchy and unfinished-looking, at best calligraphic and unique as a signature--at worst, leaving you with the suspicion that the artist simply cant draw.
Anyway, my b/f pulled the book off the shelf at the local library & told me he thought I'd like it. I didnt want to hurt his feelings with my misgivings so I took it out and kept my misgivings to myself.
Long story short: I finished "Bottomless Belly Button" in about three days. It was totally engrossing. The artwork is a lot more sophisticated than it appears at first glance--even at second glance. Dash (rhymes with "rash") Shaw has a wonderful way of portraying sequences, especially of everyday activities, like jogging, for instance, or making a bed. He makes these wordless passages interesting to look at. As for the plot--well, its about this family reunion at a beach house. The adult children of this couple come for a visit and are informed that their parents, who've been married for over 40 years, are getting divorced. One of the characters, Dennis, is particularly disturbed by this news and sets out to uncover the "mystery" of his parents's otherwise seemingly inexplicable marital rupture. Shaw (rhymes with "paw") manages to inculcate just enough nameless formless dread into the proceedings to keep you interested in this otherwise quotidian situation. At least he kept me reasonably interested in it. All the way through you get the sense that something really catastrophic is going to happen and I wont ruin the suspense by telling you that it doesnt, but anyone who's ever lived in a particularly dysfunctional family knows the feeling.
For a lot of reasons, including the author's preposterous name, I didn't want to like this book, but it won me over anyway. It even brought tears to my eyes in the final half-dozen pages. It's true, however, that I cry at practically the drop of a hat. And sometimes even at the picking up of a hat. Still, tears are tears.
I think, ultimately, as a graphic artist, particularly as a comic artist, one could learn a lot from "Bottomless Belly Button"--or a little, depending on how much you already know. Honestly, I could go on and on in this ridiculous, circuitous manner and, having not a lot better to do at the moment, I'm even inclined to do so, but I'll spare us all and sign off.