08/03/2018

Sally Ingraham here with a look at Aisha Franz’s Shit is Real – plus other news and comics!

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Aisha Franz‘s new comic – Shit is Real (Drawn & Quarterly 2018) – begins in a wilderness at the edge of a city. The main protagonist, Selma, is crawling toward a city, and you realize that this may be a sort of dream or fantasy – one that she abruptly snaps out of, just in time to be dumped by her boyfriend.

Selma drifts in and out of this fantasy world as the comic continues, which accurately portrays the ways that such fantasies both help us through difficult times, while probably causing more harm than good. Selma struggles, for the majority of the story, to relate to her best friend, to connect with other people she encounters, to do laundry or cook for herself. She is lonely and just as lost in the urban monotony of the city as she is in the bizarre sci-fi world of her dreams. The only creatures whom she seems to connect to are a giant fish (who occupies the fantasy) and a cat who belongs to the woman in the next apartment.

When Selma discovers that she can access this apartment, some of the fantasy becomes reality, and the line between the two blurs. 

Aisha Franz uses the comics medium quite effectively to tangle and untangle the threads of the story. There are many quiet moments, where the sequencing of simple movements or no movement at all conveys immense emotion. The comic is about the inner life of Selma – whether that is inside her head, or inside the lonely space she occupies in her life – and Franz is able to show this very well. The fantasy sequences mesh with the slightly futuristic urban environment of the “real” world, and there is a vibrancy to the drawing despite the softness of the pencil lines.

Thoughtful and actually funny in a few spots, this is an excellent followup to Earthling (which also dealt with female loneliness). You can read an excerpt from Shit is Real HERE.

For other reviews of the comic check out these ones at Publishers Weekly and Broken Frontier. LA Review of Books also has an interview with Aisha Franz HERE.

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Comics News of Note

  • The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has a spotlight on their Nicole Hollander collection – read about it HERE.
  • Lauren Weinstein is the guest on Episode 31 of Comic Book Decalogue – HERE.
  • Philippe Leblanc has his Small Press & Indie Comics Galore roundup on The Comics Beathe always finds the good stuff!
  • Margaret Stohl talks Captain Marvel and why now is the best time to be a female hero – on The Guardian.
  • Columbus Alive has a feature about Annie Koyama and her donation to The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum – read it HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-3-2018 – by Gabriella Tito

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