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Bottomless Belly Button

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,865 Ratings  ·  228 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
164th out of 2,296 books — 5,320 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
Oct 30, 2014 Anthony Vacca rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 19, 2008 Jamie rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphicnovels
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
Apr 22, 2008 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
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...
Brian Stillman
Aug 10, 2008 Brian Stillman rated it did not like it
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
Aug 17, 2008 Brent Legault rated it it was amazing
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 liked it
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
Jan 18, 2011 Printable Tire rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2010 Lee rated it liked it
Surely the fastest 720-page read in the bookstore. The faster I moved through it, the closer reading came to watching a film, sort of like a flip book. Maybe reminds me of a sad quirky not-so-funny indie comedy crossed, at its best, with some Ozu-y sweetness? By which I mean it's totally in favor of affectationlessly portraying minor life moments until they seem to achieve "poignancy" and therefore deserve an elevated term like "quotidian" instead of common/dull? The drawings aren't close qualit ...more
Tom Mayer
Sep 20, 2008 Tom Mayer rated it really liked it
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
Dec 14, 2015 Vitor Martins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015, comics
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!
Feb 23, 2014 Zoe rated it really liked it
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
Dec 23, 2010 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
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
Aug 15, 2009 Lars Guthrie rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2009 Andrew rated it liked it
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
Jun 16, 2011 Julian rated it really liked it
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 really liked it
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
Oct 13, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
Feb 10, 2011 Kricket rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels, 2011
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
Apr 26, 2015 André Sá rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A vida retratada em traços simples, marrons e sinceros. Um encaixe perfeito, porém não eterno.
John Isaacson
Feb 28, 2015 John Isaacson rated it it was amazing
Genius east coast family drama. Comics wizardry.
Nov 04, 2014 Jeff rated it liked it
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
Feb 12, 2015 Alan Chen rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
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
Jul 31, 2011 Andrés Santiago rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
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.
Jan 27, 2016 Sam rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 23, 2014 Stephen rated it it was ok
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
May 24, 2015 Kat Desi rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
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...
Maritza "Books y Booty" Valle
This was in the Graphic Novel section of my library, in between Manga and Dexter, so perhaps the main problem was that I had unhelpful expectations. This was made worse by the fact that NOWHERE ON THE DANG BOOK does it tell you what it's about or what to expect.

Carry on.

BBB is interesting in the way of those depressing, truthful, but unredeemed stories and movies always are, but perhaps even more poignantly so because it's so NOT what you expect from anything in comic frame form.

I didn't pref
Gláucia Renata
Porque algumas coisas precisam de explicação.

Histórico de leitura

1% (7 de 720)

"Existem vários tipos de areia."
Oct 23, 2014 Matt rated it liked it
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
Feb 05, 2016 Batmark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction

After forty years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony summon their three grown children to their beach house to announce that they are getting a divorce. Dennis, their oldest son, takes this news the hardest and, when his parents refuse to elucidate the reasons for their decision, he takes it upon himself to try and solve the mystery. His sister, Claire, uses the visit to bond with Dennis's wife, Aki, while Claire's teenage daughter, Jill, visits a friend
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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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