Bitch Media | Sarah Mirk | May 21, 2013
Bitch Magazine highlights Lisa Hanawalt and Rutu Modan
Spring has felt like a blockbuster season for great new comics from my favorite artists.
Lots of comics artists debut new work before they hit the road for conventions in the spring—heading to big indie-friendly comics shows like VanCAF, TCAF, and Chicago’s upcoming CAKE before the clustercuss of San Diego ComiCon in July—so May and June are an excellent time to be a comics reader. This is also an excellent time to become a comics reader. Whether you’re looking to pick up your first graphic novel or add new titles to your long list of must-reads, here are four of my favorite new books from female comics artists. Pick ‘em up!
MY DIRTY DUMB EYES – Lisa Hanawalt (Drawn & Quarterly)
For an entire week, I carried My Dirty Dumb Eyes in my bag and forced it into the hands of whatever friends I ran into. “Read these comics about dogs!” I screeched. “I know it’s strange, just read it.” The response was always the same: confusion, exclamation, laughter. Why are Lisa Hanawalt’s bizarre, moderately disturbing drawings so deeply funny? I will never be able to explain the mystery of why her skillfull paintings of cats dangling from helicopters and historic people pooping crack me up, but suffice to say that Hanawalt’s gorgeous renderings resonate with a dark part of my brain, making me burst out laughing at images I’ve never seen before and will never fully comprehend. Plus, the lady knows how to tell a good story. My Dirty Dumb Eyes gathers together comics published around various parts of the web with some new illustrations. Even though I’d already read many of the pieces collected in the book—like her review of The Vow and dispatch from a Toy Fair—it was a joy to read them through again. And then again. And again.
....THE PROPERTY – Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
Translated from Hebrew, The Property is a rare story that feels like both honest personal history and gripping fiction. Rutu Modan's story follows an Israeli woman and her Polish-born grandmother as they travel to Poland, attempting to settle some World War II-era family property issues, but really exploring Jewish identity and their own independence from both family and history. Modan is an expert of gesture—she captures complex emotions and feelings with just a few simple lines. It's clear she does her real-life research: the book's final page names the people on whom the drawings are based and even credits a "location finder" in Warsaw. The result of Modan's keen eye and hard work is a deep, complicated story told through pared-down images; it's a fantastic use of comics as a medium. I would strongly advise against beginning this book, as I did, at midnight. You will stay up reading until 3am, until your head is sore and you’ve forgotten where you are.