cover image Shit Is Real

Shit Is Real

Aisha Franz. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-77046-315-8

Loneliness is a prison, a fog, and a wasteland in this dreamlike exploration of depression and solitude. In the aftermath of a sudden breakup, Selma finds herself alienated by everything from a laundromat’s membership plan to her most intimate friends. Next door, however, lies a tantalizing oasis: a posh apartment left empty by a traveling neighbor. Selma sneaks in, and as days go by, she slips more and more deeply into a hallucinatory whirlwind of borrowed clothes, dreams of talking fish, and a growing fixation with the owner of a faltering pet store nearby and his romantic entanglements. But none of this belongs to her; the question is how she’ll haul herself out of the hole she’s dug. Franz (Earthling) applies a wonderful degree of surrealism to both the quotidian and extraordinary circumstances of Selma’s life; her lunch dates with friends are as surreal as her dreams of life in the desert. Franz’s smudgy, rounded style charms in depicting a night in with tofu dogs and reality TV, but when subtle facial expressions are needed, as in scenes where Selma lies alone in bed contemplating her circumstances, the lack of detail leaves a blank slate. Despite this, Selma’s journey is an affecting one. Her trek to self-actualization is twisting and forlorn—but a road worth traveling. (June)