Notables 2010: Dash Shaw’s Satellite CMYK

Dash Shaw, “Satellite CMYK,” MOME, no. 13, 2009.

Dash Shaw just keeps popping up in our “can’t miss” pile. His stories are all over the place, in subject, medium, and format. One of the best places to get a sense of his range, though, is the anthology Mome, where he frequently publishes some of the most ambitious short fiction in American comics.

Satellite CMYK is a sci-fi tale of a bewildering multi-level world, where people’s lives are controlled by a big “them,” and a “Rebel Alliance” works to undo their control. Three men, possibly clones, their lives depicted in monochrome, are assaulted on the same day for a mysterious transfer. Dash uses the CMY of the title (cyan, magenta, yellow) to organize the tales, which might otherwise be altogether confusing. As it is, it take work to follow any one storyline and figure out what is going on and how it ties in. A very clever use of color printing technology (not to mention a page turn) wraps up the story with an emotional surge. Beyond being a good story, the formal element of using color (and black and white) as a storytelling tool is very unusual and makes this work a standout.

Age: Teen, though it really would take an interested and devoted reader to figure out the puzzles here. I think some kids would really respond to that challenge. This would make a great comic for teaching visual literacy.

What is this “Notable” thing all about? Matt and Jessica are the series editors for the Best American Comics, and are responsible for the Notable Comics list at the back of the book, which is comprised of virtually all the comics we sent to the guest editor that weren’t picked, as well as a number of others that we think are noteworthy for various reasons, but that we didn’t send to the guest editor.

We’ve always hoped readers will delve a bit into the list to find more great stories once they finish reading BAC. Realistically, though, we know that’s tough. What can you know about a story from a title and author? So this is one of a series of posts focusing on each of the Notables from the 2010Best American Comics.

Have or know of a comic we should look at? Find submission info here.

The “age” suggestion is what we think might be the minimum age for reading and appreciating a work. All works on the list, though, should appeal to older audiences too. It’s a minimumsuggestion only.



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