Home > CR Reviews
posted February 15, 2006
Teenage Dinosaur, $11.99, 2005
I like how Dash Shaw has developed as an artist. A few years back when he made his debut, he seemed like one of those virtuoso wunderkind who would apply his art to a series of less deserving projects culminating in a Vertigo assignment with an inker who really didn't suit him. Instead, Shaw seems to plunged head first into an overt interest in comics as a formal language, producing an entire book of comics that depend on very considered effects. Shaw's facility makes a huge difference in how effective these stories turn out; Shaw's skill means he can invest the stranger moments with an illustrative authority that obliterates any notion that any narrative jiggering is stuntwork.
Shaw uses Rorshach Blots as his chapter/story headers. When I was a kid, and my parents would have their Ice Storm
-minus-the-Wife-Swapping parties, one of the most popular games was to take a painted blot cut it in half, and then let men and women pair up and explain what the blot depicted, usually in naughty fashion, although no naughtier than the average episode of Match Game
. In his comics stories, Dash Shaw delicately captures a lot of ideas and then, by the very next panels, hosts a new set. This both makes for an alarming reading experience and makes each story an assualt on the impermanence of identity and reality by questioning each line, design, and utterance. The only thing left for Shaw to try is applying this cacophony of techniques to longer form work, although the intensity of a story building from 1000 starting points might be too much to bear. Through this difficult but intriguing little book, Dash Shaw sidesteps certain comics fame but makes a more significant push towards becoming a great cartoonist. I'm dying to see what comes next.