My Dirty Dumb Eyes by Lisa Hanawalt

TITLE: My Dumb Dirty Eyes 
AUTHOR: Lisa Hanawalt
PUBLISHER: Drawn & Quarterly
PROCUREMENT: Public library

My Dumb Dirty Eyes is a collection of artist Lisa Hanawalt’s work. The images vary in style. From simplistic crayon or pencil drawings to intricate water color or colored pencil designs, she uses the full range of her talents and demonstrates that, like Picasso, if an artist learns the rules, she can break them, too. The book has no chapters or anything like that, as it is mostly pieces of small works, such movie reviews, images of animals wearing hats for fashion week, small comic strips, and large two-page spreads of things like lizards wearing clothes hanging out in some sort of Keith Harring meets Hieronymous Bosch. Themes include nudity, sex, lizards, dogs, and horses. Some of the animals may look familiar, as Lisa Hanawalt is the co-producer and production Designer of the Netflix original series BoJack Horseman. And funny; Hanawalt is always funny in the most absurd ways.

In one small comic strip called “The Transitive Property of Equality” she writes, “When I was little, we went to the museum and I touched a Monet water lily painting.” In the image, you can see her finger reaching for a lily and someone’s speech bubble saying, “Lisa, no!” The next panel has parallel imagery, with that same finger reaching to touch an erect penis and a speech bubble that says, “Yes, Lisa!” Hanawalt writes, “Years later, I touched some dicks.” The final panel shows several naked men with erect penises standing in a pond with water lilies, and Hanawalt explains, “So, all of my boyfriends have dicked those water lilies.” The logic is missing, but the absurdity of it and the parallel imagery makes you laugh at what you’ve seen. It’s so short; it’s only three panels.


The movie reviews were some of my favorite parts of the collection. In her review of The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Hanawalt admits her dislike of apes, while the audience seems pro-ape from the beginning. She also points out oddities in such movies, like “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the movie, it’s that apes are constantly jumping through glass windows. The shattering glass must feel good on their fur?” To the left Hanawalt’s drawn an ape running a shattered glass bottle on its body while smiling. Lines indicate movement and small words next to those lines say scratch, scratch, and scrub.

It’s not so much Hanawalt’s oddity that makes this collection so damn good—and it is. It’s that she recognizes the oddities that we’re faced with each day: monotony, fear, sex, terrible media portrayals, and even the behaviors of animals (she suggests all dogs want “to chase pigeons with hot dogs in their beaks”). She makes me remember that play and playfulness are good things when she remembers her love of love of Breyers plastic horses. Really, adults don’t seem to get it because we’re so repressed; the questions and observations that we have daily are shoved away because they’re too strange. Hanawalt lives in the strange and indulges in head space; it’s not a vacation for her.

You can search for images from My Dumb Dirty Eyes online to get an idea of her styles, but I would recommend you just get the book and enjoy it in totality!


  1. Oh, I want this! She’s the illustrator of a children’s book called Benny’s Brigade that we have been reading and loving for years!!


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