There’s a great interview with Dash Shaw up at the French comics site du9. It’s in English, so go check it out. He talks about Bottomless Belly Button, BodyWorld, D&D, and more. An excerpt on something I’ve written about in Shaw’s book:
NV: I’ve noticed that you’re also using many graphic signs and words to translate odours, sounds, tastes or textures (steam, dust in air, ocean sounds, loud music…). Is it to compensate the lack of those “effects” in comic art?
DS: It’s a cataloging of natural phenomena, which repeats throughout Bottomless. It’s used for a lot of different things, to create relationships between things, or to act as a specific sound effect, like how Japanese comics have more specific onomatopoeias. It’s about creating an environment mostly. I don’t think I’m compensating. I like it that comics don’t have sounds and smells. Sometimes a word is nice, seeing the words “garage door opening” is different than hearing a garage door opening or seeing it happen. In my webcomic BodyWorld I emphasize rain hitting different things, with words saying “rain hitting pavement” or “rain hitting embers” and that creates a sound and ties together the three rain scenes throughout the book. Words are different than pictures. They can be brought in to do a lot of different things.
I also appreciate his comments about D&D and how it related to his comics work. I was just thinking about that this morning in relation to my own interest in comics and narrative. I started reading comics thought D&D by way of one of DC’s line of comics done in specific D&D worlds.
I played Dungeons and Dragons hard-core. I was the Dungeon Master, playing about every-other day after school and a long game on Sunday for about 5 or 6 years. I quit playing early Junior Year (of High School) and basically transferred all of my energy into comics. I learned everything, creating an enviroment, characters, stories, from playing D&D. My games were very character-driven and social. I know that a lot of cartoonists have played D&D, and there must be some kind of relationship there, but many of the others focus on monsters or weird creatures. I guess I never got into that part of it. I don’t remember drawing monsters a lot. I mostly made maps and characters and stories. It’s strange to me that D&D has a misanthropic reputation, because it is a very social game. It’s people sitting around talking. That’s all it is. I think it’s an important game that children should be taught and encouraged to play.