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Shit is Real

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  483 ratings  ·  57 reviews
A broken-hearted woman drifts into depression as she occupies her traveling neighbor’s apartment

After an unexpected breakup, a young woman named Selma experiences a series of reveries and emotional setbacks. Struggling to relate to her friends and accomplish even the simplest tasks like using a modern laundromat, she sinks deeper into depression. After witnessing another c
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published February 1st 2016)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  483 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Dave Schaafsma
Shit is Real by Aisha Frank is a great graphic novel about a young woman devastated by a break-up. Well, all we know is that she has been dumped, and is dealing with it. She doesn’t identify her emotions or detail anything about the relationship or the process of breaking up, but she is living alone, and—I will say—seems to be hallucinating as a condition of her relationship grief. She sees people with cat faces, people who morph into fish. ? Fish are central in this one, but not as in the clich ...more
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
weird but in a good way
Wow, I think I enjoyed this even more than Franz's Earthling (that I read very recently).

She's really amazing at exploring human emotion in minor drama pieces. I connected with this one a bit better probably just because it explored a person who's similar to age to me. As opposed to the young girl in Earthling.

I really like the surreal elements of the story... and the fact that the story occurs in some weird futuristic world with animal people... although the parallels to our own digital age w
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, read-in-2019
The style is creative, and the fantasy blends in nicely with reality.
What I found lacking was the story - it is there, but doesn't seem to say something new or more than many stories about post-breakup confusion. I get that this graphic novel is more atmosphere-oriented than story-oriented, but it just didn't make me feel anything, except for the appreciation for the art.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
At first: "This book is so weird. I don't get it."
And then: "This book is so weird. I love it."
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An expressionist comic about a young, disaffected woman living in a city. It’s a very familiar premise, but it does offer at least a few new angles. But because it is such a familiar setup, I would hope to get some self-deprecating irony or humor to offset the cliches. Without that, it’s a fine book, but not one with very many payoffs.

In an era when cartoonists like Leslie Stein are doing much better work with the same approximate material, I have a hard time finding a strong connection to Aish
Aisha Franz's 'Shit is real', like her first comic, 'Earthling', is weird and slippery. Selma, the protagonist, floats in and out of shifting worlds, unsure of their reality. Worlds populated by fish, by humans morphing into fish, by laundromats, by black cats. The narrative was a bit lacking for me, but it was nice to take a dive into Franz's world once again. ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good visual storytelling. Psychedelic storyline. Still real enough to be kind of heartbreaking.
Mary Montgomery
Jun 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the drawing style of this a lot - there were like more experimental elements exhibited like time lapse within one panel which was really interesting, mixed with some classic manga elements of things like huge animated exaggerated facial expressions and reactions. Plus Franz’s drawing style on its own is cool, I liked the layout and design of a lot of pages - like full page settings drawn behind floating panels, gutter color changes to signify like dream sequences, and the crazy style of ...more
Edward Sullivan
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A surreal, dream-like story about a depressed, heartbroken woman named Selma who experiences a series of emotional ups and downs while she occupies her traveling neighbor’s apartment. Originally published in Germany.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
so so so good!!
Laura (ローラ)
Blurb on the back calls it, "current dystopia". I think that's the best way to describe this. I feel like it 'got' it. Despite the technological "advances" and dream-sequences, this story feels modern and true. ...more
Anna (RattleTheShelves)
that was very very weird. I picked it up from the library on a whim. Also, I didn't know it was German but that's pretty cool. ...more
Nov 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny and weird.
Simon Sweetman
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good graphic, beautifully drawn and rather heartbreaking. Deep story. A great treatment.
One day I will understand cryptic graphic novels
Jun 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
quite possibly a perfect book. a depressed-panicattack-who-am-i-even-now feeling that can only be captured by the way this is drawn blurry and fragmented, i think. i love how water and swimming are used throughout
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-comics
Selma suddenly got dumped by her boyfriend and has to move into a cheerless new space. While trying to install shelves, she accidentally drills a hole in the wall; a hole that proves to be a portal into another life. Through drunken binges, hallucinations, and vivid nightmares, we experience the visceral sense of loneliness and depression that Selma seems to be going through; it’s super relatable. She occupies her neighbors world, trying to inhabit her put-together life. Will she ultimately disc ...more
K.W. Colyard
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Among the many graphic novels that have attempted to capture the distinct feeling of facelessness that our all-digital, social media-minded age presents, Aisha Franz's Shit Is Real may come the closest to accurately portraying that experience. Following Selma — recently single, becoming isolated — as she floats through an increasingly weird landscape of strangers, Shit Is Real fully realizes the utter oddity of young-adult life today.

At 288 pages, Shit Is Real neither lingers too long, nor ends

Rachel Davies
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i love this!!!!!!!
Joséphine (Word Revel)
Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Initial thoughts: This is the weirdest graphic novel I've ever read. Set some time in the future, it was hard to discern what was reality and what was part of Selma's imagination. Was her ex-boyfriend some sort of alien with a reptile head or was that how she saw him after he threw her out of their apartment? In terms of feeling lonely and cut off from friends, peering in from the outside, not knowing what comes next, this book was relatable, though.

The artwork fit the ps
Thanos Kandris
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very surrealist depiction of a very human experience, which is losing your way and sense of self after a traumatizing event. In this book that event is the protagonist losing her job, boyfriend, and apartment all at once. Absolutely gorgeous, the art style is extremely stylistic which is perfect for the extreme use of visual metaphor. Despite the fact that only part of the story is grounded in reality, I never lost track of what was happening, and everything worked together towards the ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, graphic-novel
the first 20 pages had me bracing myself for the entire book to be an unending surreal, what-the-fuck-is-even-happening phantasmagoria that lacked substance, but it was not that! while the book is definitely hallucinatory and weird, those sequences don't feel like they're needlessly so. the weirdness is connected to the main character's reality, her emotional unraveling post-breakup as she begins to feel disconnected from and ignored by her best friend. i'm relatively new to appreciating/critiqu ...more
Jessica Haider
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
3.5 stars

This graphic novel is primarily about the main character's loneliness after she breaks up with her boyfriend and in turn feels neglected by her best friend who is busy in her own relationship. This book is odd and surreal drifting in & out of dream sequences. I read it in under an hour and overall found it enjoyable (and weird).
Maggie Gordon
Shit is Real is quite the literary trip. It explores loneliness and the ennui of the modern millennial. It also feels a bit like taking a bunch of drugs and watching the world warp and spin around you. It's hard to get a grip on what is truth and what is simply a dream or desire. A fascinating read and one to ruminate on. ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I felt like I never quite caught up to what was happening in Shit Is Real. I started out confused. Then some confusing stuff happened, and then the main character had longer hair, and there was a confusing resolution. I wasn't too captured by the art, which is fine, except it distracted me from the story, which also didn't capture me. ...more
Taylor Zartman
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oof. As someone who has had their own long, depressive episode, this book gets it. Not only the heaviness of it, but the detachment from reality - the dreams that might be life and the life that might be a dream. Are consequences even real?

Franz knows the power of her visuals. Shit is Real is beautifully drawn and thoughtfully composed. And it's painfully real.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: comix
3.5 stars. A surreal tale of a young woman who is devastated by a sudden break-up. The story and the art have a dream-like, hypnotic quality that sucked me in and kept me off balance. There's a lot going on here, including some pretty sharp commentary on modern-day society and how technology can make it harder to find meaningful connection with other humans. ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novel
I enjoyed the scenes that weave between real life and fantasy. Comics are so good at economically creating imaginary worlds, and Aisha Franz does that here too. I stared at the fish in the tank at work today and thought of this book.
The critique I'd have is that the drawings are a bit rough and and not as edited or considered as I'd like them to be as a reader.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
This was ok, to me reflecting on the struggle of what it means to find and understand oneself, and then be able to live life based on that knowledge. I was attracted to the simplicity of the illustration, and the function of technology in the world. Usually don't go for anthropomorphic animals but it worked ok. ...more
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