Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Cosplayers: Perfect Collection by Dash Shaw

Dash Shaw's comics are deceptively simple -- both in his almost primitivist art style, and in their seemingly straightforward narratives. And his most recent graphic novel is perhaps his most simple-looking book yet.  Cosplayers is the story of two young women with a passion -- though whether that passion is for their costuming activities or for using those activities to get famous is a bit of an open question.

As so often with an intense two-person friendship, one is outgoing and one is behind the scenes. These two young women are both in their late teens, avoiding college and the specter of someone else's plan for their lives while trying to turn their passion into a life. So they make movies, guerrilla-style. Annie dresses up as some character, and interacts with unsuspecting random people, while Verti films it. It's making them a little money, and Cosplayers tells the story of a few months in their collaboration -- one vignette at a time.

Shaw tells this story in short-story form: how they met; one video's creation; Venti dating a guy while Annie films, to switch up roles; attending a Tezuka-focused anime con; going to a comics shop on Free Comic Book Day; dealing with bad online reviews; the possibility of a "real production deal" with real money attached; and so on. It's all moments -- Shaw focuses his story in now rather than a through line, keeping these young women in their moment, not looking forward or looking back.

It's a small book, and of necessity an open-ended one. If Annie and Venti become successful, together or separately, this will be the story of how they learned their first important lessons. But we don't know that -- maybe because they don't know that. This could also be the story of that crazy time when they were young and free: we never know what our stories will be until they've happened.

That open-endedness will annoy some readers, but I think those readers would avoid Shaw anyway, with his blocky color overlays and his thick black lines that seem less planned than they are. There will probably be more to this story, eventually. But this book is a "Perfect Collect" nonetheless.

No comments:

Post a Comment