Shit is Real
Aisha Franz, 287 pgs, Drawn & Quarterly, drawnandquarterly.com, $27.95
I began Aisha Franz’s Shit is Real prepared for some heavy topics, but it was less of an exploration of how rough life can be and more of a testament to how your emotions can blur reality. Taking on everything from breakups and technology, to fish life and peepholes, the graphic novel has a simple black and white style that surprised me with its ability to pull off detailed futuristic party scenes and abstract dream sequences.
Shit is Real follows Selma, who gets unceremoniously dumped, takes her few possessions (including a painting of the book’s title) and moves into an empty apartment to sleep on a mattress on the floor. Through desert visions and stilted check-ins with her friend Yumi, you learn that she’s left her job and isn’t feeling the need to re-enter working society just yet, and you watch her struggle through modern challenges like ordering off of holographic menus. Some coincidences and some lowkey stalking help her to start living in her absent neighbour’s apartment, trespassing on someone else’s life and seeming happy and present the more she intrudes.
A truly weird trip through one woman’s depression and escapism, I was pleased with how much Shit is Real became about perspective, ups and downs, and female friendship. After reading it in one sitting, I expect to revisit it, mainly to enjoy a lonely and inappropriate, but still stubborn and motivated protagonist, how many pages have little to no dialogue, and my own interpretations of some of the more out there sequences.