Print Mag | Jane Lerner | April 19, 2013
Lisa Hanawalt one of Print’s new artists 2013
From: Palo Alto, CA
Lives In: Brooklyn
“I do everything from children’s-book illustrations to weird comics to illustrated movie reviews,” says Lisa Hanawalt. More than anything, though, the Brooklyn-based artist is a gifted comedian. “I’ve always surrounded myself with comedians and class clowns,” she says.” My favorite artists and cartoonists are the funniest and dirtiest ones.” Art directors at magazines like Saveur, Glamour, and Bloomberg Businessweek know that she can make even the most mundane topic interesting and amusing. (It’s a rare recipe for vegetable soup that depicts the artist skating around on discarded onion skins.) At the same time, she is beloved in the underground comic-book scene, with several self-published titles and a big-deal collection coming out this year from Drawn & Quarterly, My Dirty Dumb Eyes.
Hanawalt’s drawings are profane and often confounding—one comic is called Sell Your Boobs, and many of her characters are gawky mammal-human hybrids—yet they remain exceedingly appealing and richly realized. As Christopher Silas Neal, her studio mate at Brooklyn’s Pencil Factory, says, “I’ve had the pleasure of glancing over her shoulder as she inks portrayals of animal sex, helicopter genitalia, and Paul Ryan homoerotica. But she’s more than a mere shock-jock comic.”
Visually, it’s as if R. Crumb took a trip to Busytown, brought along some bawdy old Playboy cartoons and a few episodes of Tim and Eric, and added a good dose of self-reflection. “I’m horrified by how gross bodies are,” Hanawalt says. “Coming back to that subject matter again and again in my work has just been my way of coping with that horror—there’s real pathos there.”
Like a stand-up performer, she mines her own life and pop culture for material, keeping lists of ideas and jokes on her computer, iPhone, and in sketchbooks. “I’m interested in comedy writing,” she says—a hint that the next stage of her career might go completely off the page.