After gaining huge mainstream attention for BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON and BODY WORLD—both formally experimental graphic noels that remained emotionally true—Dash Shaw has kept a low profile in recent years, as he works on multimedia projects, including animation. But Fantagraphics has just announced two new books, NEW SCHOOL and 3 NEW STORIES. Exciting news for a voice that has been expanding his audience.
Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce that it has acquired the new graphic novel, NEW SCHOOL, from acclaimed cartoonist Dash Shaw, who previously created the graphic novels BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON (Fantagraphics, 2008) and BODYWORLD (Pantheon, 2010).
To be published in April 2013, NEW SCHOOL is an all-new, 340 page work of fiction that was loosely inspired by Shaw’s experience as a teenaged foreign exchange student. “New School is my most personal book. It’s all true (sort of). I dramatized and changed things to make everything closer to how it felt. The book took years of difficult work to make. Now I can’t wait to hold it in my hands!” says Shaw.
“Dash is one of the most intellectually curious and fearless cartoonists I’ve ever known,” says Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds. “He created one of the past decade’s most acclaimed graphic novels — BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON — and pushed himself to experiment with the form even further in the books BODYWORLD and THE UNCLOTHED MAN IN THE 35TH CENTURY A.D. NEW SCHOOL feels something like the apotheosis of all three of those books. It’s a major work by a cartoonist in full control of his still-flowering potential.”
NEW SCHOOL stars a likeably earnest if naive young man, Danny, who was raised on ’90s pop culture like Jurassic Park and X-Men. Danny’s story starts when his brother Luke fails to return from a trip to a remote island where he was hired to teach English to the employees of a new amusement park called ClockWorld. Built by wealthy industrialists but staffed by island natives, ClockWorld is an ambitious theme park that recreates historical events from throughout history.
Danny is given the charge of bringing his brother home, and is initially overwhelmed by his new and exotic surroundings. His initial infatuation quickly shifts to disillusionment, and his sense of “being different” grows to alienation, especially after he discovers that Luke has made a new life, new family, and even a new personality for himself on ClockWorld. How Danny and Luke’s relationship resolves is the heart of NEW SCHOOL. NEW SCHOOL is at once funny and deadly serious, naturalistic and fantastic, easily readable while wildly artistic, personal and political, familiar and completely new.
Shaw adds, “I love Gary and Eric and Jason and the people at Fantagraphics. New School is extremely important to me and I know they’ll do a stellar job with it.”
Additionally, Fantagraphics will also publish in April an all-new comic book by Shaw titled 3 NEW STORIES. This stand-alone work will feature three all-new, full-color short stories that explore varied dystopian societies. From a Sherlock Holmes-style investigator who must complete his high school degree to filmed “voluntary” nudity to prison camps full of jaded children, Shaw pens each story with his signature style and unique spin, all in 32 pages.
Currently Shaw is working on a feature-length animation called “Shell Game”, complete with his complex live-painting style and poetic sensibilities. He recently directed an animated music video for Sigur Rós, which is now available to watch online.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.