Shit Is Real by Aisha Franz – a dark, futuristic tale of loneliness in the city

A woman sneaks into her neighbour’s empty flat in this graphic novel mixing lonely lunches, wild parties and hallucinations

Shit is grubbily surreal in Franz’s sharp graphic novel, which follows a young woman’s response to a breakup and mixes lonely lunches, wild parties and hallucinations. After losing her job and being dumped by her boyfriend, Selma is putting up a picture in her new flat when the drill slips, opening a yawning crack into her neighbour’s vacant apartment. It starts slowly – a glass of water here, a washing-machine load there – but before long Selma has moved in.

Shit Is Real is set in a near future where holograms are replacing workers, but there’s no glossy sheen. Instead, discomfort and mishaps fill the pencilled pages: noodles spill on a shirt, urine streaks across a roof terrace and machines chirp and fail. Franz mixes reality with panic-flecked imaginings. He finds as much ...