Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Sometimes the most realistic sound isn't necessarily the most believable sound."
Wasn't it Anthony Powell who said something to the effect that if you put real life in a novel, no one would ever believe you? There's nothing remotely credible about real life.
Dash Shawe loves to experiment. He doesn't seek to pander or please, just communicate and play - play with form, and play with different ways of communication in a manner that pleases me enormously. MOTHER'S MOUTH impressed me so much in that regard.
Most of the MOME sequences here are more accessible but no less inventive, like his exploration of visual shorthand language in comics and assigning them written words. The swirl rising above a flat-out drunk becomes a "Spurl", the dazed stars "Squeans" and the lines demarking a staggered path across a carpet littered with bottles a "Staggerataron" whilst the sound effect of hurling into the toilet is mere onomatopoeia! But there's far more at work here with pages to make you ponder, particular the piece on "plewds" radiating from a pig-faced person isolated from the world around him followed by a panel in which leaves of paper fall from a leafless tree.
The short story my opening quote was pulled from, of an aspiring writer working as gofer on the set of an underwater film being shot in a power plant plays with circles, sound and silence, and had me chortling with its bleak, surely black-humoured (?) ending. 'Blind Date Part 1' meanwhile boasts a title whose wit only becomes clear in the very last panel. By "wit" I mean clever and not at all funny, for it ends as it starts in private recollection on either side of a blind date that seems on the surface to go beautifully for both parties, but there won't be a 'Part 2'. As to the final episode here, it's possibly my favourite: a supposed storyboard for a film in which a young man is dazed by the media's reception of his role in saving a pretty woman from a fire, then equally dazed by his self-appointed and self-regarding agent filming his attempts to date her, analysing the boy's 'performance' then advising a duplicitous, manipulative strategy for future success. Absolutely hilarious, that one.
And so we come to the first 24 pages from which the title is taken: a collection of storyboards, comics and animation work for the ifm.com animation work. Again, no less inventive, some of it quite beautiful but far better left as sketchbook pages at the end because its self-indulgence nearly put me off reading any of the short stories later on. Big, big turn-off to newcomers.
Should have kicked off with 'Look Forward, First Son of Terra Two' which was genius: an aged man is found on young Sara Swift's doorstep. She grows older, he grows younger. They are lovers, but also more... It's a masterful exploration of hindsight and time, whilst 'Galactic Funnels' was a contender for the Ignatz Awards in 2008 as most Outstanding Story. Truly outstanding, it's a lesson in telling it like you see it rather than being a slave to someone else's inspiration/interpretation.
The sheer variety of styles here is breath-taking, and indeed the paper stock shifts accordingly plus there's the cover's acetate overlay mimicking an animated cell.