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BTTM FDRS

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Once a thriving working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer named Darla and her image-obsessed friend, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they soon discover something far more seductive and sinister lurking behind the walls of their new home. Like Once a thriving working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer named Darla and her image-obsessed friend, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they soon discover something far more seductive and sinister lurking behind the walls of their new home. Like a cross between Jordan Peele’s Get Out and John Carpenter’s The Thing, Daniels and Passmore’s BTTM FDRS (pronounced “bottomfeeders”) offers a vision of horror that is gross and gory in all the right ways. At turns funny, scary, and thought provoking, it unflinchingly confronts the monsters—both metaphoric and real—that are displacing cultures in urban neighborhoods today.


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Once a thriving working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer named Darla and her image-obsessed friend, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they soon discover something far more seductive and sinister lurking behind the walls of their new home. Like Once a thriving working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer named Darla and her image-obsessed friend, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they soon discover something far more seductive and sinister lurking behind the walls of their new home. Like a cross between Jordan Peele’s Get Out and John Carpenter’s The Thing, Daniels and Passmore’s BTTM FDRS (pronounced “bottomfeeders”) offers a vision of horror that is gross and gory in all the right ways. At turns funny, scary, and thought provoking, it unflinchingly confronts the monsters—both metaphoric and real—that are displacing cultures in urban neighborhoods today.

30 review for BTTM FDRS

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    Ezra Clayton Daniels (Upgrade Soul) wrote this, BTTM FDRS, (pronounced Bottomfeeders) and Ben Passmore (My Black Friend) illustrated this, which deals with issues of gentrification and white privilege in the guise of what I didn't even know was a thing: "Gentrification horror"!? There is also "body horror," which is physical horror, think: David Cronenberg, sliming, a range of gross stuff. As with other horror comics, such as The Swamp Thing, there is horror that matches the social horrors of ra Ezra Clayton Daniels (Upgrade Soul) wrote this, BTTM FDRS, (pronounced Bottomfeeders) and Ben Passmore (My Black Friend) illustrated this, which deals with issues of gentrification and white privilege in the guise of what I didn't even know was a thing: "Gentrification horror"!? There is also "body horror," which is physical horror, think: David Cronenberg, sliming, a range of gross stuff. As with other horror comics, such as The Swamp Thing, there is horror that matches the social horrors of racism, sexism, and so on. Takes place on Chicago's south side, where a fashion designer and her friend seem to be living in a large abandoned building. But something's not quite right, about the economics of the situation, gentrification, but also seemingly scary things going on there. There are moments where the dialogue reveals some social commentary, and the authors inject some humor into it, but the story is less impressive than the art, which has an alt-comics feel to it to match the contemporary urban context. I didn't love it, maybe a 3.5 rating, but give it points for uniqueness: The touches of social commentary, the humor to match/undermine the horror, the artwork, the meshing of the political with horror.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jon(athan) Nakapalau

    A very surreal tale of gentrification...unique vision that echoes questions that we fail to ask when we change the enclaves that have existed before new visions evict with old economic rules.

  3. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    Hmm... this is a tough one to rate. I think I'll go with 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for GR. The pros: first of all, I heard this graphic novel referred to as gentrification horror, and that sums it up incredibly well. It's horror, it's spooky and it's weird, but it also deals with a lot of commentary regarding gentrification, POC lives being pushed aside and erased for white comfort, etc. There's a ton of good commentary going on here, including the black MC's best friend having a meltdown over how "white p Hmm... this is a tough one to rate. I think I'll go with 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for GR. The pros: first of all, I heard this graphic novel referred to as gentrification horror, and that sums it up incredibly well. It's horror, it's spooky and it's weird, but it also deals with a lot of commentary regarding gentrification, POC lives being pushed aside and erased for white comfort, etc. There's a ton of good commentary going on here, including the black MC's best friend having a meltdown over how "white people's opinions never seem to matter anymore", etc. (but she's not racist, you know! how dare you?!). Parts of the book are very subtle while others are brutally on-the-nose, and it's all done very well. The cons, however: first, this art is... well, it's a mixed bag. On one hand, it's visually interesting and I think it's neat, how certain "scenes" are color-coded to different colors to separate them from the scene before. It's an easy way to show time-skips, location jumps, etc., without devoting any of the actual storyline to letting you know. That said, the monochrome aspects made it a little tough for the finer details to come across sometimes, and the drawing style itself, while this is totally subjective, is not one that I personally enjoy. The other issue I had is that the story just doesn't make any sense at times. I know a lot of people enjoy semi-bizarro horror that doesn't have a lot of rhyme or reason to it, and if that's you, DEFINITELY grab a copy of this one, but that's not me. I wanted to know why these things were happening (more than the iota of backstory we got) and how the entity in the story became so powerful, but I didn't get any of that. I think BTTM FDRS would function much better as a novel or novella than a graphic novel, but that's just me. I received this item for free from the Amazon Vine reviewing program in exchange for my honest opinion. My review has not been influenced or altered in any way.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jesús

    BTTM FDRS is a bonkers sci-fi/horror tale that’s told with a talent for character, with actual insights into the past and present of housing segregation, and with a genuine affection for goofy, B-movie horror. The story, setting, and premise are the perfect collaborative match for the uncanny body-horror of writer Ezra Clayton Daniels (Upgrade Soul) and the pop-punk anarchism of artist Ben Passmore (Daygloayhole).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    Daniels and Passmore offer up a wonderful kaleidoscope of urbanity & its horrors. Stemming from poverty, gentrification & capitalism, broken bodies, isolation...this world could be dire. There are a few moments of deep commentary, especially around white privilege, SJW-ism and commodification of colonial communities and communities of color, but Daniels injects the right amount of humor into the script. Couple that with Passmore's illustrations, so full of expressiveness, and the horror Daniels and Passmore offer up a wonderful kaleidoscope of urbanity & its horrors. Stemming from poverty, gentrification & capitalism, broken bodies, isolation...this world could be dire. There are a few moments of deep commentary, especially around white privilege, SJW-ism and commodification of colonial communities and communities of color, but Daniels injects the right amount of humor into the script. Couple that with Passmore's illustrations, so full of expressiveness, and the horror is removed just enough to be able to say, "I enjoyed that!" inasmuch as one sympathetic reader can enjoy gentrification, racism and their concomitant horrors, mind you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Garden

    I liked this pretty well but I wanted the connection between gentrification and body horror to be more explicit, or have a firmer punchline. Passmore is the gloopy goopy dayglowiest and Daniels is a supremely sharp creepy writer, this just didn't knock it out of the park as a collaboration. Really good though and definitely recommended, just more fun good than incredible good.

  7. 4 out of 5

    J.T.

    Oh man, this book is so much fun. You can tell both the writer and the artist enjoyed making it (especially the drawings of the amorphous monsters). I'm new to Ezra Claytan Daniels (but long time fan of Ben Passmore), but this book has put me solidly in the lifelong reader camp. I'm currently reading Upgrade Soul (which, holy crap, is incredible - easily my favorite comic I've read this year, and I'm not even finished), and there are some thematic similarities. Like the best sci-fi writers, Dani Oh man, this book is so much fun. You can tell both the writer and the artist enjoyed making it (especially the drawings of the amorphous monsters). I'm new to Ezra Claytan Daniels (but long time fan of Ben Passmore), but this book has put me solidly in the lifelong reader camp. I'm currently reading Upgrade Soul (which, holy crap, is incredible - easily my favorite comic I've read this year, and I'm not even finished), and there are some thematic similarities. Like the best sci-fi writers, Daniels keeps one foot in reality and one in fantasy, with expert commentary on gentrification, race issues, cultural appropriation and more with a generous dose of humor to help it all go down.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    I didn't really know what to expect going into this. The cover was intriguing and mysterious. The artwork kind of reminded me of Julie Doucet’s work. And the quote on the front cover promised “Gentrification horror …” I honestly didn't recognize Ezra Claytan Daniels’ name from Upgrade Soul, which I loved. Shame on me. So what's the story with Bttm Fdrs? Darla is an aspiring fashion designer who's just moving into an apartment in the Bottomyards, one of Chicago’s examples of urban deca I didn't really know what to expect going into this. The cover was intriguing and mysterious. The artwork kind of reminded me of Julie Doucet’s work. And the quote on the front cover promised “Gentrification horror …” I honestly didn't recognize Ezra Claytan Daniels’ name from Upgrade Soul, which I loved. Shame on me. So what's the story with Bttm Fdrs? Darla is an aspiring fashion designer who's just moving into an apartment in the Bottomyards, one of Chicago’s examples of urban decay. But the rent is cheap, and the landlord is trying to attract more trendy types by offering perks like free cable. But there's something … off … about the building. It may be the lack of windows. Or the strange noises. Or the way the lights flicker. Or the coaxial cable that seems to grow overnight. Soon Darla and her BFF Cynthia are face to face with what lurks in the walls and the basement … This was a wonderfully creepy book. The pacing kept me on the edge of my seat, and the characters were engaging. We're talking seriously good comics horror here. The book itself is lovely. Notice those embossed millipede thingies? That's an effect you won't get on your Kindle. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Highly recommended!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    The start is a bit slow, but this sci-fi take on a haunted house story picks up steam as it goes. The art and coloring very effectively convey the bizarre and eerie tone.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Liz Yerby

    The characters and struggles felt very real, not sure I followed the full monster metaphor but I still appreciated it none the less. It’s one of those books that I think could’ve benefitted from being longer, because I enjoyed it so much, but the action scenes felt rushed. As expected the coloring was excellent!

  11. 5 out of 5

    TammyJo Eckhart

    The art is very colorful and has an edgy quality to it that I don't normally like but it really worked with the story. The changes in colors signaled what was happening, ratcheting up the creepiness without relying on the traditional dark-light or grayscale format. Our main viewpoint character is Darla, an artist who is returning to where she grew up in Chicago, the Bottomyards, which has decayed through institutional and social racism. Darla may complain about people buying up the bu The art is very colorful and has an edgy quality to it that I don't normally like but it really worked with the story. The changes in colors signaled what was happening, ratcheting up the creepiness without relying on the traditional dark-light or grayscale format. Our main viewpoint character is Darla, an artist who is returning to where she grew up in Chicago, the Bottomyards, which has decayed through institutional and social racism. Darla may complain about people buying up the buildings but she, too, is taking advantage of the lower rents for an apartment that can also serve as artist studio. We get enough into her life and mind that I was able to develop strong empathy for her. Thus the everyday struggles and the weird horror of the building felt more intense. That weird horror is science fiction in nature and without revealing too much, let me add it deals with the unjust treatment of women and minorities by business and government agencies as well. Through Darla's friends, neighbors, and others she interacts with, that horror is cranked up further.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dakota Morgan

    All the pull quotes for BTTM FDRS call out that it's a weird mixture of body horror and gentrification horror and those quotes are not wrong. This is some weird shit. It's got a lot to say about classism and racism. It's also got an apartment building with no windows that appears to be devouring its residents. So, it's a real dense stew of ideas. I found myself enjoying the mix, for the most part. The class/race stuff could feel heavy-handed at points, but it was also apt for our current climate a All the pull quotes for BTTM FDRS call out that it's a weird mixture of body horror and gentrification horror and those quotes are not wrong. This is some weird shit. It's got a lot to say about classism and racism. It's also got an apartment building with no windows that appears to be devouring its residents. So, it's a real dense stew of ideas. I found myself enjoying the mix, for the most part. The class/race stuff could feel heavy-handed at points, but it was also apt for our current climate and you could tell the authors weren't tossing around these issues purely for plot purposes - they wanted to say something about society. The horror stuff was delightfully messed up, quality weirdness that kept me flipping pages at a fast rate. Ben Passmore's art was perfectly suited to the story. I did feel a bit adrift in the early pages (Are we in the future? Is there a Bottom Yards in Chicago? What the heck is this monster?), but the story very quickly drew me in even though it didn't necessarily answer my questions. BTTM FDRS feels like a book that's gonna get some Eisner noms.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    I didn’t know that the world needed gentrification horror but it absolutely does.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nica

    Art ⭐⭐⭐⭐Story⭐⭐⭐ The punk comic style art & the colouring were so very appealing, but i don’t think it conveyed the monster & gore horror aspect of this story well-in either a realistic or satirical way. I was totally on board with the themes of gentrification, white privilege, and science manipulated for profit & political gain, but unfortunately the dialogue did not allow the complex story to delve deeply enough to make me care. I really enjoyed this graphic novel, but it could hav Art ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Story⭐️⭐️⭐️ The punk comic style art & the colouring were so very appealing, but i don’t think it conveyed the monster & gore horror aspect of this story well-in either a realistic or satirical way. I was totally on board with the themes of gentrification, white privilege, and science manipulated for profit & political gain, but unfortunately the dialogue did not allow the complex story to delve deeply enough to make me care. I really enjoyed this graphic novel, but it could have been so much more. The whole thing came off kinda glib.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cy

    that was wild

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Recommended for fans of Jordan Peele, this wry horror graphic novel pokes at gentrification and complicity. Great art with a bright, surreal palette.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    Like if Cronenberg did Candyman. This is packed with commentary, most of which is right on the money. Daniels is an outstanding satirist and uses his characters well in this regard without straying from their true characterization for the sake of a joke or comment. A horror story - body horror - through the lens of gentrification and cultural appropriation is very timely, but the art style's reflection of silent film color filters and early American alt-comics and cartoons (think Crumb, Charles Burns, or Like if Cronenberg did Candyman. This is packed with commentary, most of which is right on the money. Daniels is an outstanding satirist and uses his characters well in this regard without straying from their true characterization for the sake of a joke or comment. A horror story - body horror - through the lens of gentrification and cultural appropriation is very timely, but the art style's reflection of silent film color filters and early American alt-comics and cartoons (think Crumb, Charles Burns, or Jeff Smith, but in bright color washes) remind us that these aren't new issues. As a tenant of the central building says: "No matter what you have, no matter how little it is, they're gonna take it from you eventually. That's not on you. That's not even on them, really. That's just how they do. Always have, always will." I do think Daniels whiffs majorly on the setting. Setting it in Chicago feels totally unimportant, even moreso because the neighborhood - Bottomyards - is fictional. About 90% of the book takes place inside one building, with a brief scene down the street at a bar, and another brief scene at a nameless hospital. Basically the only work done to establish this is as Chicago is that the protagonist is a recent Columbia grad, and the newscasters names are taken from local news stations for one minor scene at the end of the book. This could have just as easily been set in LA (where Daniels is based, though he did live in Chicago in his 20s) or even a fictional city. OR it could have been set in a real neighborhood! I guess my main issue is that I didn't get to spend more time here. Once the origin for the central horror is revealed the story is basically over but I was absolutely fascinated by its premise and I needed to know more. As far as horror goes, that's about as high a compliment as I can give.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Like so many reviews of this book: 3.5 stars, rounded up. The art is a perfect match for the subject. Monster horror, exploitation of urban black culture, sexism, and gentrification issues combined into one. If there was a stronger focus on the social issues, I would have been more impressed. A fairly short read but worth seeking out.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen

    I liked this *idea* a lot and I loved the characters and the art and the commentary but also body horror just isn't really for me. This is maybe also the point, but I found the "monster" really difficult to see and conceptualize, which I think made it a little less scary. Overall I would recommend.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This was not for me. Nor do I know who I would recommend it to. A bit too far-fetched and cartoony. There were some touches of social commentary about race and privilege in the early scenes between characters but the real driving story is the gloppy growing grasping monster thing. And the sacrificing savior ending is a bit corny and not clearly justified by adequate character motivation. I read it through to see where it was going but I’m no wiser, not really affected, and wish I had spent that This was not for me. Nor do I know who I would recommend it to. A bit too far-fetched and cartoony. There were some touches of social commentary about race and privilege in the early scenes between characters but the real driving story is the gloppy growing grasping monster thing. And the sacrificing savior ending is a bit corny and not clearly justified by adequate character motivation. I read it through to see where it was going but I’m no wiser, not really affected, and wish I had spent that time reading something else.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeweliana

    So glad I picked this up! It was weird and amazing in all the right ways.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Woody Chichester

    This was bonkers- weird and creepy. Gentrification horror is real!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nick Klagge

    The blurb on the front says, "Gentrification horror at its finest." I can't disagree with this, but it makes me wonder, is "gentrification horror" a subgenre that predated "BTTM FDRS"? If so, I definitely would like to read other examples! I thought this book did a great job of taking on some of the complex issues around gentrification without coming across a preachy. Mostly, I think it achieved this by just being weird as hell and sticking to its guns. Passmore's art is very distinctive, with m The blurb on the front says, "Gentrification horror at its finest." I can't disagree with this, but it makes me wonder, is "gentrification horror" a subgenre that predated "BTTM FDRS"? If so, I definitely would like to read other examples! I thought this book did a great job of taking on some of the complex issues around gentrification without coming across a preachy. Mostly, I think it achieved this by just being weird as hell and sticking to its guns. Passmore's art is very distinctive, with more or less realist line drawings saturated in wild and varying bright colors. The illustrations of the "thing" in the building reminded me a little of the gonzo quasi-gross-out art of the game "Epic Spell Wars." "Goddamn duck-snake hybrids!"

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is so weird and wonderful. It's hard to write a story that is so original that it's unpredictable. I had no idea how to plot would unfold and that kept me hooked. Ben Passmore's illustrations are so detailed and delightful that I want to read this a second time to pick up on all the visual jokes I missed the first time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    P.

    Passmore and Daniels, what a combo! A creepy, gross, darkly funny comic that sets the scene succintly and gets right to the action/gore and has a sort of(?) redemptive ending. The commentary on gentrification, microaggressions and the co-opting/stymie-ing of Black genius by whiteppl combines with the sci-fi and horror in a particularly seamless way.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Gardner

    liked the art and the point. but the ending kind of fell flat for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    The story and art didn't quite sync up in this book, unfortunately. I've enjoyed other works by these two, but it was kind of like when two musicians collaborate on a song that's just okay. I could see what each person brought to the table, but would rather read their solo stuff instead.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Luke Stacks

    Excellent pacing and composition set this book apart from more formulaic horror-as-social-commentary. Daniels and Passmore really, really, really want you to know this book is about gentrification, as the characters discuss at length. Luckily, the central horror story makes the point more effectively and features gonzo details that make the book linger and resist easy codification (a la "the real monster is X").

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sean Kottke

    An almost Lovecraftian piece of gentrification horror, where the monsters aren't just the tentacled beasts from another world. The story is a great satire of gentrification and the (literal) care and feeding of urban communities. There's a whole lot of exposition saved up for the final quarter of the book, and the oddly distorted rendering of physical spaces within the building at the center of the story contributes to the eerie atmosphere.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    An incredible graphic novel about gentrification and cultural appropriation cloaked in a horror story. Daniels’ writing is phenomenal; subtle and real. Passmore’s art is also wonderful, and the perfect aesthetic for this story. After being blown away by Upgrade Soul, I had high expectations for this book and it definitely delivered.

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