The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.

By Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-307-1

Being an old dinosaur who cut his teeth on old-fashioned 1970s print technology, I’m constantly surprised when modern computer tech so remarkably emulates and enhances what I still consider to be “painted” art. I stare in wonder until I fool myself that I can actually see all those hard, straight-edged pixels on the page, and my head begins to hurt and my eyes to water…

None of which is particularly germane, but which does indicate just how entrancing is this lovely book. Dash Shaw is an extremely talented creator with a singular authorial voice and a huge repertoire of styles to call upon. Born in 1983, he is part of a “new wave” (please note no capital letters there) of multi-tasking cartoonists, animators and web-content creators whose interests and sensibilities have heralded a renaissance in graphic narrative.

Like so many fresh creators he began young with independently published small press comics before graduating to paid work, and his available books include Love Eats Brains, GoddessHead, Garden Head, Mother’s Mouth and the superb and haunting Bottomless Belly Button.

In 2009 the Independent Film Channel commissioned him to convert his short stories from the comic arts quarterly Mome, The Unclothed Man In the 35th Century A.D., into an imaginative and compelling animated series and this incredibly impressive hardback gathers not only those evocative, nightmarish and tenderly bizarre tales but also the storyboards, designs and scripts Shaw constructed to facilitate the transition from paper to screen.

Wrapped in a stylish printed dust jacket made from what appears to be an animation cel (celluloid), the stories include the eponymous Unclothed Man, ‘Look Forward, First Son of Terra Two’, ‘Galactic Funnels’, My Entire High School… Sinking into the Sea!, ‘Blind Date 1’, Making the Abyss, the captivatingly droll examination of comic and cartoon special effects ‘Cartooning Symbolia’ and others. For many however the revelatory insights of how the creative process unfolds will be the biggest draw of all…This is an achingly visual and surprisingly accessible yet intellectual bunch of gems that every dedicated fan of the medium simply must see, and every reader of challenging fiction will Have to read.

© 2009 Dash Shaw. This edition © 2009 Fantagraphics Books.  All Rights Reserved.