From Cryptozoo to Blurry

A Film Screening and Book Launch with Dash Shaw

Join us at the Roxy Cinema for a screening of Cryptozoo (2021) directed by Dash Shaw, to celebrate the publication of Blurry (2024), Shaw’s new book for New York Review Comics, an imprint of the New York Review of Books.

Stories of mythical beasts are part of the earliest cultural narratives, attests Jorge Luis Borges’s The Book of Imaginary Beings (or the “handbook of fantastic zoology”). Cryptozoo imagines an institution to protect cryptids—imaginary animals, often human-animal hybrids, that are by their nature hidden from view to most people. The concept of a theoretical, unknown animal activates a primal fear of monsters hidden or unknown. In Cryptozoo, the cryptids are derived from mythologies around the world, so even while they are imaginary, the creatures are part of folkloric psyches.

When our own Joey Frank first saw this film, he thought immediately about Pioneer Works as a kind of cryptozoo for artists, a place to support their work and imaginative thinking and to protect them from the outside world’s harsh requirements and norms. Shaw’s film has an almost painted paper-doll aesthetic, scanned from hand-printed surfaces, appropriate for visualizing a world beyond what meets the average eye. A similar spirit suffuses Blurry, Shaw’s new graphic novel. It tells the interconnected stories of a group of characters—a teacher, a figure-drawing model, a woman with new glasses—whose lives are drawn together and apart in ways that stretch how we see and understand focus, perspective, and visual resolution.

Discussion and book signing to follow the screening of the film.

Dash Shaw is the author of several graphic novels, including Bottomless Belly Button and Discipline, published by New York Review Comics in 2021 and named one of the best graphic novels of that year by The New York Times. He has written and directed two animated feature films, the most recent of which, Cryptozoo, won the Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT Innovator Prize and was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Joey Frank is part of the founding team of Pioneer Works, and an artist whose large solo exhibition “The Seeker an’ the Trick” was in the Main Hall during Hurricane Sandy of 2012. He was the editor of four thick physical editions of Intercourse, PW’s predecessor to Broadcast, and wrote forwards for both of Adam Green’s graphic novels published by PW Press.