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Bottomless Belly Button

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  2,688 ratings  ·  220 reviews
Bottomless Belly Button is a comedy-drama that follows the dysfunctional adventures of the Loony Family.

After 40-some years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony shock their children with their announcement of a planned divorce. But the reason for splitting isn't itself shocking: they’re "just not in love any more." The announcement sparks a week long Loony family reunion at
Paperback, 720 pages
Published June 17th 2008 by Fantagraphics (first published 2008)
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Watchmen by Alan MooreThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Best Graphic Novels
159th out of 2,142 books — 4,918 voters
Bottomless Belly Button by Dash ShawArte Moderna by Giulio Carlo ArganThe Story of Art by E.H. GombrichO Filho de Mil Homens by valter hugo mãeA Desumanização by valter hugo mãe
1st out of 18 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Anthony Vacca
Is it possible to write a review for a story about a family of eccentric personalities and the comedy and tragedy that results from the comingling of their individual personal dysfunctions without mentioning The Royal Tenenbaums? Apparently not.

Now, with that out of the way: Bottomless Belly Button is a story about a family of eccentric personalities and the comedy and tragedy that results from the comingling of their individual personal dysfunctions –but it's also a bravura performance at comi
This review is kind of like an "it's not you, it's me" break-up, because I should really acknowledge that Dash Shaw's The Bottomless Bellybutton represents a certain side of art-house indie cartooning that just doesn't resonate with me. There is a scene late in the comic when the grandmother is at the grocery store, and the man in line in front of her gives her an angry look for not putting a divider between their items. It seemed like an outrageous response to a fairly common situation, and I r ...more
Far and away Dash Shaw's best work yet; the story is a little more straightforward/less surreal than some of Dash's other books, except for a character who appears as a frog, but he continues to play with the comics form, and without doing it in such a way that it distracts from the narrative. A huge thick book that maybe reads quicker than it looks it will, but undoubtedly will reward repeat readings...
Aug 10, 2008 Brian rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: jackasses with soul patches
Shelves: read-2008
Let's see...dysfunctional white family; goofy low self esteemed guy who can't make it with chicks but has a quirky chick quick to go for his sausage conveniently pop up solely for the purpose of going for his sausage; did we mention unsympathetic bored whiney dysfunctional white family...

This is the kind of stuff Daniel Clowes and Jeffrey Brown make sing. This does not sing. This is like Parker Lewis Can't Lose compared to Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

If Zach Braff were a graphic novelist this woul
Brent Legault
The things that Shaw does with light, with water, with sand will confound your eyes and uproot your mind.

There is detail here. Shaw has paid attention to it and so should you. Note the coming of dusk. Note the one "true" glimpse of Peter. Note how the "x" marks the "spot."

Sound is not usually something you think of when you think of comics. Shaw offers up a cacophony. A melodic cacophony. His is a noisy book.

Floor plans. Portraits. Cinematic scenes. I felt like I was watching a movie directed
Aug 09, 2008 Jamil rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mary, Lindsey
Shelves: comics
a massive brick of cartooning, shattering the staid glass window panes of other so-called graphic novels with its "exhuberance" & its visual swagger -- using maps, rebuses & secret codes to detail the tale of a family, where no one resembles another*, impacted by the divorce of the parents after forty years of marriage.

It's almost overwhelming, but I totally ignored one of the caveats of this graphic novel and read all three parts all 700 odd pages straight through early Friday morning.
Printable Tire
The Bottomless Bellybutton is an absorbing mammoth graphic novel for a rainy day or two. There are some great "comic-matic" moments without dialogue and a great use of cartoon space, and a clever use of the lack of color and a fancy use of diagrams and letters and zany gimmicky stuff like that I usually really enjoy. Ultimately, though, there's not much substance to this big thing, a case of style trumping sensation in the end (and by style I mean more book design than the actual art, which is f ...more
Tom Mayer
A friend had recommended I read everything Dash Shaw had ever done. I started on his bewildering earlier books THE MOTHER'S MOUTH and GODDESS HEAD, but I put them both aside when I learned BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON had arrived. This is by far the best graphic novel I've read in several years, impressionistic, textured, synechdotal (?). Whatever. It's incredible. I've been putting this book, at once cosmic and deeply personal, in the hands of everyone I know who likes graphic novels. (and also, Das ...more
Vitor Martins
uma hq ótima que mostra os problemas de uma família normal sobre diversos pontos de vista. me fez rir e me fez pensar. adorei essa leitura!
I adore graphic novels. I really do. I’ve always held a sort of awesome appreciation for them. Novels describe things in detail, but part of being a reader is you inadvertently decide what someone, someplace or even what sometime looks like the second you read about it, regardless of what the actual description is. This is how I came to believe for a long time that Dean Thomas from Harry Potter was a white dude. Of course I didn’t particularly care one way or another what ethnicity this fictiona ...more
Robert Beveridge
Dash Shaw, Bottomless Belly Button (Fantagraphics, 2008)

I feel torn about Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw's monstrous (720 pp.) magnum opus. On the one hand, it's one of those graphic novels that isn't actually “about” anything. The characters, in general, don't change, just kind of butt up against one another like buoys tied to a pier in rough water, and the situation flows around them. Think of it as a mumblecore graphic novel, you know? And those tend to drive me bats. (God save me from ev
Lars Guthrie
I've been having extraordinary luck hitting on extraordinary examples of graphic novels recently. Here's another one. The semi-primitive drawing and confessional tone put me in mind of David Heatley's 'My Brain is Hanging Upside Down,' although this is a full-blown, even epic narrative (if a week with a dysfunctional family reuniting to inaugurate the parents' divorce can be epic in scope). The weightiness reminded me of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's 'A Drifting Life'--some 700 plus pages--a format that i ...more
This is alt-comics by the numbers. The obsessive attention to mundane details, the diagrams, the quirky page designs, the daddy issues, the sarcastic and confused teen girls, the general patheticness of the majority of the cast: all these elements come straight from previous books by Chris Ware and/or Daniel Clowes.

Fortunately, Dash Shaw knows how to entertain. The dialogue is uniformly sharp, and a few bits are even laugh-out-loud funny. Some favorites of mine include Chill Jill meeting "the n
I did not heed the advice of the author but read this straight through in one sitting, taking no breaks between each part. The result was simply enjoyment and the somehow animated quality the characters have taken in my memory.
The style is cartoonish but the content is not. Truth be told I was not sure if I would enjoy the book as I started to read but, I was sucked into a fairly realistic plot. It chronicles the development of a family, building the characters somewhat loosely but in a way that
Oct 12, 2009 Brad rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: comics
Dash Shaw's visual style, technique, and storytelling is innovative and gripping. His use of text-as-art reminds me of Hope Larson's (much prettier) work. He has the guts (or patience or balls) to leave blank space halfway through 9 or 16 panel grids. He wastes pages, either with half panels or full page, full impact splashes like no one since Craig Thompson. Every single prominent review mentions that one panel where you see Peter's face. (It's pretty great.)
This book is long. Shaw's art made m
I just finished this huge graphic novel, and I’m still processing. In fact, I think I need to read it again, soon. This vast and vastly original graphic novel is not so much about navel-gazing (as the title might suggest) as it is about... er, life. And family and intimacy and the stories we construct around our lives and our unpredictable emotional weather and... well, I probably should have stopped at ‘life.’ Siblings Dennis, Claire and Peter are called together to a family reunion that kicks ...more
i found this lengthy graphic novel very intriguing, but once i came to the end i felt like i had missed some important information while reading. i did read it over the span of several weeks, so i figured it was me and started over. got halfway through again and decided it wasn't me, it was dash shaw.

the style is interesting. shaw is clearly a talented artist, but all of his characters are really unpleasant to look at. there's lots of shots of them being sad in the shower. some of them constant
André Sá
A vida retratada em traços simples, marrons e sinceros. Um encaixe perfeito, porém não eterno.
John Isaacson
Genius east coast family drama. Comics wizardry.
Nov 04, 2014 Jeff rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: comix aficionados
Recommended to Jeff by: a Ferndale librarian
Most people who like comix will probably like this more than i did and i found it mostly satisfying.

As much as i simply enjoy reading comic books, i'm still frequently disappointed that i don't get as much pleasure from the illustrations as from the stories and language. When the plot's intriguing and/or the characters are interesting but the images seem redundant and/or unnecessary, i tend to give 3-star ratings.

I haven't read anything else by Shaw so maybe this book's style is deliberate. If
Alan Chen
This comic novel is good more for its writing than for the art. The drawings are fine. They are simple, minimal in use of color but nothing spectacular. The story is really well done and, like other reviews, definitely harkens to The Royal Tenanbaums. The dysfunctional family is comprised of an aging couple who's been married for over 40 years deciding to get a divorce. The 3 adult children, along with the rest of their family, come down to their parents house to deal with the crises. The oldest ...more
Andrés Santiago
This was OK, the drawing is a bit meh, but the author overcomes that with an innovative storytelling. It feels like another attemp to write the "great american graphic novel". Sorry but, in my opinion, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan is still in the lead. Worthwhile reading but couldn't but feel a bit disappointed, after all the hype, the two different covers... Just another novel about a disfunctional family in crisis.
Surprisingly enjoyable read about adult childrens' reaction to parental divorce. Could have benefitted from excising the male masturbation scenes. Many of the characters seemed real, three-dimensional, and familiar to me.

Regarding the art, it's not particularly good. Looks like Jeffrey Brown's quality -- no concern for detail, anatomy, backgrounds...nothing. Everyone has a slightly lumpy head, two circular eyes, some dots for stubble -- real basic stuff. (The artist does like to draw penises wi
Kat Desi
This is one of the weirdest things I have ever read in my life. I'm not usually a fan of graphic novels since the graphics usually distract me -- I know, don't ask. But I managed to get through this because the text and/or dialogues is minimal. I felt disturbed after finishing this. It is also slightly depressing...
A great, unique, but weird comic that you can still relate to. It's about the struggles of divorce between a long married couple and how their son, who by the way is a frog, has to deal with it. Which I can relate to since my parents are divorced and I'm the only child so it affects me greatly. This book was really good and really weird at the same time. There were suggestive dialogue and activities going on throughout the book. Despite all that it's a comic I can connect with and feel like any ...more
If you haven't read a graphic novel...this might be one to try
Shaw's stunningly conceived and executed comic opus captures one moment of change in a family. Maggie and David Loony have called their three adult children to their childhood home to announce that, after 40 years of marriage, they're getting a divorce. Dennis, the eldest, desperately searches for an answer to why. He believes that if he just finds the right old letters, he'll understand what's happening to his parents, only to find t
George Marshall
This is a challenging book and it is hardly surprising that it polarises people. Personally I loved it

It is superficially simple and the drawing may appear rough- even crude (it is actually highly accomplished). The storyline - a family coming together for a last time in the house they grew up in to mark their parents' separation - does not create much narrative drive and is really a framework for Shaw to explore characters and themes.

But the remarkable quality of this book is Shaw's very subtl
May 07, 2015 Max rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own, comics
As much as I loved this book, it's unsurprising to me that it has produced highly divisive reviews. The book covers a subject that's been exhausted to death (middle class white family drama), and there is absolutely no sense of resolution to any of the various plot threads running through the book. I have to say, though, if you're looking for 'resolution' and 'coherence' when reading this book, then you are Doing It Wrong. A work must be met on its own terms, and in Bottomless Belly Button Dash ...more
Jonathan Forisha
Initially I was not crazy about this book. As good an artist as Dash Shaw is, he certainly isn't very adept at drawing pretty people - or at least he doesn't try very hard. The story in itself is depressing, as are the various deconstructions of the main characters, but on top of all of that we don't need numerous scenes of sad naked people being sad and naked.

Anyway, that's how I felt at the beginning. As it went on, I grew more into it, though I still couldn't say exactly why one brother is a
The spine of this book was intriguing enough to make me want to know more, so I picked it up on a whim.

Overall, I enjoyed it... and you will to if you like the sort of quirky slice-of-life independent films that never really go anywhere.

A lot of questions I had at the start were answered (chief of which was - Why is Peter a frog and why is no one addressing it?) but many weren't (e.g. What's with all the secret passageways in the house?). Usually unanswered questions make me cranky but I think i
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Dash Shaw is a cartoonist and animator in Brooklyn, New York. His latest graphic novel is "New School", about two brothers on an island where an ambitious amusement park is under construction. His other books include the telepathy comedy "Bodyworld" and the family comedy-drama "Bottomless Belly Button". His animated works include the Sigur Ros video and Sundance selection "Seraph", "Wheel of Fortu ...more
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