I Want You (#1) – Lisa Hanawalt

4 out of 5

‘Want’ is a black and white 5′ x 7′ Buenaventura Press book, mix of inked pencils and paints, no real plot, just 1-2 page somewhat surreal gags based on observations or weirdo setups like a horse writing a cat a love letter.  Hanawalt’s pencils are loose and detailed, her stiff figures mixed with selective details and ‘anything goes’ juxtapositions (there’s a whole gag based on animals in weird hats) bringing to mind the other wacky daffys in the same genre, namely Chester Brown.  Given Hanawalt’s glowing reviews, I wouldn’t be surprised if she climbed a similar path to wider acclaim.

The best thing about the book is how it’s style feels all encompassing – Lisa deals with tampons and men and women, but the point of view from which it’s told doesn’t fall into any particular “men are like X; women are like Y” camp, carving out a funny, gritty, gross style that’s particular to Hanawalt.  It’s perhaps a little too scatalogical, honestly, which is the one knock: my first read I was surprised at the consistency of the visuals, even when switching drawing mediums, as well as the smart balance between fore- and back-ground detailing so that the book breathes properly, but I was too taken aback by the visual uniqueness itself to necessarily focus on what I was reading.  A second spin shows it getting a bit tired with the tampon and dick humor.  There’s some way to push it into full-on loopy – the “innocently” gross and offensive territory of, say, Johnny Ryan – but I suspect Lisa’s (at this point) soon-coming followup ‘My Dirty Dumb Eyes’ will probably continue in her current vein, which is surely for the best – further defining her own style.

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