I can't pinpoint the first time I saw Lisa Hanawalt's work, but I probably came across it in a stack of minicomics my husband brought home from some convention or another. I am a lifelong alternative comic book fan and am always especially interested to read new work from female artists, so I was excited to check it out.
I was instantly drawn to her sick sense of humor and unique drawing style. Her comics are all over the place, but in the best possible way. There are weird illustrated lists, ridiculous stories starring anthropomorphic animals, revolting drawings of medical mishaps and products that don't exist ... I was smitten!
One of the funniest things about Lisa's comics is the way she takes supremely goofy subjects and renders them in a really detailed, painstaking way. She definitely takes her own advice to "execute dumb ideas beautifully," a concept I adore and which adds an extra level of greatness to her work.
I was curious about whether or not being a cartoonist was Lisa's goal from the start, or if she entertained so-called loftier aspirations. She told me that although it wasn't always the plan -- she studied Fine Art at UCLA -- her love of writing and the narrative bent her work already had made it a natural progression.
I wondered too if she'd had one of those stereotypical "future comic artist" childhoods: myopia, acne, Dungeons and Dragons.
"I am absolutely acne-covered and myopic," she says, "But only recently played D&D for the first time (Brief recap: I sliced an ogre in half with my sword, then I licked my sword.)."
One of the funniest tidbits I gleaned from Lisa was that when she was nine years old, she decided her ticket to easy money would be as a child model. Considering her high level of cuteness, it's not bad as far as get-rich-quick schemes go. I begged her to let me show you guys one of the promo pics her parents agreed to let her have taken. Deep breath:
She's like the world's tiniest Fly Girl!
"The whole process of getting tarted-up and posing for photos was so boring and gross that I lost interest...I never would have made it as a model, I was short, chubby and I spent all my time crawling around on all fours pretending to be a horse."
As a fan of her work, I'm really grateful Lisa's modeling career never got past the Glamour Shot stage. I'm also glad that the internet exists, because in-between publishing physical comics, Lisa maintains a very active website regularly updated with new drawings, illustrated movie reviews and hilarious comics.
Lisa's been growing increasingly visible as an illustrator lately as well, with her work popping up in places like McSweeney's, The NY Times, an even Glamour magazine. I almost lost my shit when I saw that she'd illustrated a Paint-By-Number Kit. This girl is like a dream walking, I tells ya!
Lisa's not the first artist to draw animals wearing clothing, and she won't be the last -- but she's one of the craziest. The level of attention in her drawings sometimes goes so far as to edge into grotesquerie, which I mean as a huge compliment.
I mean, exactly what in the hell am I looking at here, and why do I love it so much? Look closer:
I get sucked into Lisa's drawings like nobody's business. I hate when people describe art as being like "such-and-such...ON ACID!" -- it's lazy -- but I'm going to kind of do that here and say that the drawings she does in this style make me feel like I'm on a 3-day crank bender (not that I would have any idea what that's like). She told me she's been trying to reign it in a bit, but I say: BRING IT ON!
I hope you guys have enjoyed getting to know a bit about Lisa, and that you'll pick up one or three of her comics soon. In the coming weeks I'll be talking with several more of my favorite lady artists, so prepare to have your brains broken due to pure awesomeness. If there are any artists you love that you think I should talk to, let me know in the comments!