Hot Dog Taste Test
By Lisa Hanawalt
Drawn & Quarterly, 178 pages, $24.95
In many of the strips, lists, journals and doodles that make up Hot Dog Taste Test, Lisa Hanawalt serves as food culture’s court jester. She’s created a persona that’s knowingly foolish (her description of combining wet and dry foods: “slushy mouthfeel”), and she expresses that shrewd irreverence through mismatched hues and visual cartwheels (her watercoloured spreads, busy with weird animal life, look like Dutch still-life feasts as drawn by Richard Scarry). Though the book’s most off-the-cuff bits are often the funniest, the most substantial work is reprinted from Lucky Peach magazine – a rundown of New York street food highlights, a dining tour of Vegas buffets or an account of swimming with otters at a nature sanctuary. Along with cuisine, animals are constants in the artist’s work (she’s probably best known as the designer for Netflix’s Bojack Horseman). Throughout, her Dr. Moreau-style beasties – birds, mainly, but with boobs and bums – embody her vision of humanity’s barely suppressed animal impulses. Hanawalt’s brush turns us all into endearingly dumb creatures of instinct, with basic, pure and ridiculous desires – to eat, to drink, to poop, to squawk.