cover image Body World

Body World

Dash Shaw, . . Pantheon, $27.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-307-37842-2

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.)