Look into Lisa Hanawalt's 'Dirty Dumb Eyes'

It seems like only last year that artist Lisa Hanawalt's illustrated reviews/reactions to movies like War Horse and The Vow at online magazine The Hairpin were making me laugh and grab the closest person to the computer to cajole with "Dude, you have to read this!"

And now Drawn and Quarterly has released a beautifully designed collection of some 120 pages of Hanawalt's work, including those illustrated humor pieces, comics and straight-up "fine art" artwork.

What's that? It was only last year? Wow. D+Q sure didn't waste any time on putting a Hanawalt collection together, but anything that brings the artist to the attention of more readers is fine with me — it will cut down on my cajoling friends, family and co-workers.

My Dirty Dumb Eyes assembles a great deal of Hanawalt's previously published work  from all over, meaning you can find much of it online for free, but the book format doesn't bombard you with a low dose of electrical radiation, and is therefore much safer to read.

Herein you will find Hanawalt's movie reviews — Drive, Rise of The Planet of the Apes, the aforementioned Vow and War Horse — which consist of her reactions and observations and copious illustrations in her particular style, which is just representational enough to be perfect for parody. For example, when she observes that Channing Tatum resembles a Labrador so much that "he looks like you couldn't leave him in a room with the food left out," and accompanies it with an image of actor guiltily curled up on the floor in his underwear, with chewed-up chocolate and phone bills all around, well, it looks like Channing Tatum.

The same format is employed in Hanawalt's 14-page report on a toy fair in Manhattan.

Other pieces are much more image-heavy, with one illustration per phrase or item on a list ("What Do Dogs Want??", "Rumors I've Heard About Anna Wintour," "The Secret Lives of Chefs," etc).

Perhaps the most surprising pieces are Hanawalt's pure comics — you know, with panels and dialogue bubbles and everything.

There are a handful of these included, and they are striking for their somewhat-surreal quality. The characters are usually anthropomorphic animals drawn in an incredibly realistic style, generally looking mostly human from the neck down but bearing the heads of moose or horses or dogs. The situations can be strange, as in the bizarre, bird-centric goings on seen in "Extra Egg Room."

But they are more striking still for the quality of the design and draftsmanship on display. Hanawalt is a fine artist, but on these strips she becomes an even finer one, with a greater attention to detail than is on display in the shorter, humor/article pieces. They're like the work of an entirely different artist, to be honest.

Bridging the gap between the two are pages of Hanawalt's art, which isn't in service of a story or a gag or a series of jokes but just nice paintings of the things shes interested in: animal people in construction outfits, penises, scantily clad lizard-women lounging on a car, that sort of thing.

The result is something of a collection as portfolio, My Dirty Dumb Eyes showing the breadth of Hanawalt's range of styles, formats and sense of humor. Dude, you have to read this — I don't want to have to cajole you again.


Lisa Hanawalt's My Dirty Dumb Eyes will be available in May.


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