Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt

I've said before that I keep confusing the comics of Lisa Hanawalt with those of Gemma Correll, but that's probably just me. (So many things in this world are.) In case anyone else is laboring under this particular handicap, the big distinction -- other than the fact that they're entirely different people doing entirely different work, with only slight and occasional similarities in their art -- is that Hanawalt is American, previously in NYC and most recently (according to this book) in LA, while Correll is British.

Hot Dog Taste Test was Hanawalt's second collection of comics, after 2013's My Dirty Dumb Eyes (which, I have to admit, I keep wanting to switch around and call "Dumb Dirty"), and collects drawings, comics, and odder elements mostly around the subject of food and eating. (Note that "what happens to food after you eat it" is something Hanawalt considers a related topic, and there are several cartoons on the other end of the alimentary canal. In particular, I like her request to rename poop "doof,"since that's food backward.)

Hanawalt has a quirky sense of humor, and is not generally trying to create conventional jokes in the works here. This is mostly observational humor from someone who probably likes more kinds of food than you do and someone who definitely thinks seriously about pooping more often than you do. I want to call her work earthy, but that may have a '60s-hippie feeling that isn't what I mean: she's earthy in a modern, totally up-to-date way, all about kale and ortolan and using time machines to see how historical people poop.

I do not think I'm doing a good job of making this book sound appealing. Maybe I should come in at this from a different direction.

Hot Dog Taste Test is funny and unique, like that one friend of yours from college who always went too far. If you could close him like a book whenever you needed to, he would be perfect, right? So here you are -- cartoons and illustrated stories and sketchbook pages and scrawled asides and doodled thoughts about poop, about stuff that goes into your mouth and comes out from lower parts. (Note: there's also some menstruation stuff: I know some of you boys freak out about that.) There's other stuff, too -- a long travel diary about her family in Argentina that doesn't have much to do with food, and another multi-page piece about swimming with otters that similarly avoids mastication, and a few pages about bird-headed people including what I think is the author self-insert character. But the through-line is food, from the pros and cons of different meals to random jokes and scribbles and paintings.

Hanawalt is funny in really specific ways, like no one else. And unique voices are to be cherished. So there you go.

No comments:

Post a Comment