Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Look at What Dash Shaw Did to My Book

Last night, Dash Shaw, creator of BodyWorld, Bottomless Belly Button, and The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century, gave a reading at my local comic book lounge. A few months ago, a friend of mine found this issue of Love Eats Brains, an early Dash Shaw comic, at a San Francisco zine shop. Said friend was not familiar with Dash Shaw, but saw it was a "zombie romance" and immediately thought of me. I'm a little disturbed by this.

Although I have yet to read Love Eats Brains in its entirety (it's out of print), I rather love the issue I have. The drawings are sketchy and beautiful and very unlike the style that Shaw has more recently evolved. The dialogue and themes are more meandering than in Shaw's later work, but they're also warmer and more natural. Although BodyWorld and Bottomless Belly Button are certainly more skilled works, I actually find I connect better with the rawness of Love Eats Brains. Maybe it channels my inner 16-year-old.

Shaw doesn't just sign books; he defaces them. He outlines figures on the cover. He adds speckles. He dabs pointillist portraits along the sides. But when I presented him my slim pack of newsprint, he didn't get to the happy defacing. He groaned, "You have that?" Then made a motion as if to rend the book in two. I protested.

"I can't tear it up?" he asked. "I'll pay you for it."

I kept insisting that I liked it, and he muttered something about making it after high school and being generally embarrassed to look at it. So, as something of a compromise, he scribbled out the drawing on the cover and wrote "Don't show to anyone."

"I think it's better this way," he said, as I squinted at the scrawl. "Don't you think it's better this way?"

"Sure," I said. "But you know this is counterproductive. Now I'm just going to show it to everyone." And look at me now: I'm posting it on the Internet.

Also, listening to Shaw deconstruct Blind Date is hilarious. Obviously, I need to start thinking more critically about my trashy television.

33 comments:

Sam Costello said...

Oooh, finding that one is a treat. As I recall there were maybe 3 issues of that version of Love Eats Brains, hard to find even then. I loved 'em - much heavier on both the romance and horror angles. Just some great, inventive, energetic stuff.

The later Love Eats Brains TPB doesn't exactly wrap up these issues and is in Shaw's later style. Same name, but not really the same comic.

Despite being unfinished, I'll hang onto my copies of these for a good long while.

Lauren Davis said...

@Sam Costello: That's good to know. I had no idea. I think I'll have to make a pilgrimage to that zine shop to see if I can find the other two issues. I agree, it has wonderful energy.

Thanks for the info!

(Aside: if you haven't read Sam's horror anthology comic Split Lip, go read it now)

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