The Arkansas International reviews Shit Is Real

“Capsule Reviews ” / The Arkansas International / The Arkansas International / August 23, 2018

Aisha Franz’s graphic novel Shit is Real is a quiet, dream-like look into the life of a young woman, lost. After a difficult breakup, Selma finds herself unable to relate to friends or accomplish simple tasks, and sinks into a state of depression—portrayed by Franz as a stark, alien desert on the outskirts of civilization. Desperate to be pulled out of her life, when Selma learns that her stylish neighbor has left on vacation and forgotten her keys, she tries on her life like an ill-fitting hat. Her emotions rise off the page, each disappointment, each small struggle breaks the heart.

But here in a world that comes across both strange and frighteningly realistic, Franz is able to comment on the concept of social currency as self-worth and the strangling hold of technology on society. With her bold style, Franz magnifies the ways in which abstraction conveys emotional truth beyond the capability of realism. Characters don’t just express embarrassment. They melt off the page. Loneliness and hope are experienced in the space of a large, sparsely populated fish tank. A unique portrait of modern loneliness, Shit is Real explores what it means to be lost in one’s own life.

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