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January 30, 2007

Book Notes - Dash Shaw ("The Mother's Mouth")

The Mother's Mouth is an epic in 128 pages. Life, love, and death are the themes of this graphic novel, as a woman travels from Chicago to New Orleans to be with her dying mother. Pop culture references abound, with Pac Man ghosts and a Michael Jackson adoring musician boyfriend, and these tie the story together with the woman's lost love and relationship with her mother. A powerful story exquisitely told, with one book Shaw has become one of my favorite cartoonists.

Thanks to Pop Candy for posting a short review of this book, the "haunting, sad and mesmerizing" line vaulted this book to the top of my "to read" pile.

In his own words, here is Dash Shaw's Book Notes contribution for his graphic novel, The Mother's Mouth:

“The Mother’s Mouth” is related to music in a few ways. It started as a book that would have an album attached to it, with songs that would relate to each chapter in the book. It wasn’t necessarily a soundtrack, but more like a two-piece set that, ideally, would make a one-piece project. This didn’t work out. It became more of a weird conceptual thing that screamed “Art School!” and the band and I hate that shit. It was preventing both sides from being better works. Although I’m glad we attempted it. It allowed me to think of the book as a project, where I could do videos and work on songs related to the subject. I immersed myself in it. Also, since cartooning is such a lonely, depressing activity, being in a band made the project more social. I’m not going to try it again. I LIKE it that comics are silent and require only one person. Other people are unreliable, especially drummers. Ha.

The character Dick in the book is a hack musician. He’s described as Michael Jackson plus The Pixies. I’m not sure what that would be. He talks about Michael Jackson throughout the book. The first time we see Dick he’s in his kitchen moonwalking. James and I are obsessed with MJ and pop music, most recently Christina Aguilera. We cover “Drrrty,” probably the weirdest pop song of all time.

Recently I’ve been listening to King Crimson- I like “Islands” off of the album “Islands” and “Trio” off of “Starless and Bible Black.” I also just bought Animal Collective’s “Spirit They’re Gone/Spirit They’ve Vanished” and it’s pretty awesome.

I have an affinity for some music done by other cartoonists. Zak Sally, Low’s former bassist, did a book called “The Recidivist.” He told me it was originally going to be packaged with an album but it didn’t work out as well. My favorite young cartoonist, C.F., does a comic called “Low Tide” and performs as Kites. Brian Chippendale is another Fort Thunder cartoonist (he did a book called “Ninja”) and is the insane genius drummer of Lightning Bolt. I buy Kites and Lightning Bolt albums mostly for the album art, since the recording is pretty crappy and does no justice to the live performances. If you ever have an opportunity to see Kites or Lightning Bolt perform live, do so. They’re the best live shows I’ve ever seen.

see also:

Dash Shaw's website
Dash Shaw's Wikipedia entry
Publisher's Weekly interview
Comicon interview
ComicFoundry interview
The Comics Interpreter interview
feature at Ninth Art

20-page PDF preview of the book
sample pages from the book at The Comics Reporter
book page at Alternative Comics

Booklist review
Austin Chronicle review
The Comics Reporter review
Silver Bullet Comics review
Mad Ink Beard review


Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)

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