Mar 16, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 38 - Shame: Conception, 2011

I think that it must be impossible to dislike something that John Bolton creates. His facility in combining the realistic with the surrealistic is just about unparalleled, at least in my experience, by any of the other popular comics painters (people like Ross, etc.).

Shame does some other cool things visually. Classical philosophy, in places, claims that the exterior of a person reflect all that is inside them as well. If you're ugly outside, you're going to be ugly inside. Those ancient philosophers may have been on top of things in other aspects, but not here. Kindzierski and Bolton offer us a protagonist at the opening of the work named Mother Virtue who suffers from some rather extreme facial deformities but is, despite this, seen as one of the kindest people in her village. Children flock to her and adults rely on her, and how she looks has nothing to do with anything. In contrast, our other protagonist, Shame, is beautiful, and naked a lot, but inside is a thoroughly awful creature. It's not new, I know, but it's nice to see this kind of characterization that doesn't rely on visual appearance in a comic. More often than not, our villains are gross-looking, our heroes are paragons of beauty, and never the twain shall meet.

This is part one of a series, and I'm not sure what happens in the rest of the series. Shame is imprisoned in this book by Mother Virtue, her mother, because Virtue knows that Shame is not a good creature. But Shame has her own plans, warping the caretakers Virtue leaves behind, and eventually escaping and killing Mother Virtue. Whether or not we'll see a redemption arc for the character, I don't know, but I hope not.


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