Psychedelic Plants Lead to Alien Mind-Melding in a Small Town

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In Dash Shaw's Body World, a drug-addicted botanist travels to a small suburb to investigate the hallucinogenic qualities of a mysterious plant. When he smokes it, he finds himself getting closer to the town's inhabitants than he ever cared to.

Professor Paulie Panther arrives in Boney Borough, a near-future Levittown constructed after an unnamed war, after a strange plant appears near the local high school. Paulie is a rugged individualist, a poet, a botanist, and a drug-addict, a combination that qualifies him to update another professor's textbook on the hallucinogenic properties of North American plants. He soon realizes that inhaling the fumes from the plants causes him to feel the emotional and physical sensations of those around him. At first, it seems like an opportunity to make the connections that have eluded him all his life, but he soon realizes his personality could be swallowed by the town's growing hive mind. What follows is a long, strange trip into post-war nostalgia, small towns as superorganisms, and the question of whether individuality truly makes us happy.

Body World earned Shaw an Eisner nomination for best digital comic (though he ultimately lost out to the online version of Carla Speed McNeil's Finder) and, more recently, an Ignatz nomination for Outstanding Online Comic, and Pantheon plans to release a print version next year.


[Body World]