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Artist Lisa Hanawalt’s ‘War Horse’ Review is a Thoroughbred of Comics-as-Criticism

While I greatly enjoy Brooklyn-based artist and cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt‘s occasional movie reviews for online magazine The Hairpin (like this one of last summer’s Rise of The Planet of The Apes or this one of the more recent Drive) I do not think she is the absolute best movie reviewer in the whole world. I am pretty sure that hers are the best illustrated movie reviews in the whole world, though, as her heavily illustrated assessment of the new Flicka-meets-All Quiet On The Western Front horse movie War Horse proves.

As in her previous works, Hanawalt packs her War Horse review with 21 different images, ranging from short comics sequences to standalone visual gags. Some of them are black-and-white and look hastily drawn, while others are in full-color and resemble the work of a fine artist putting something together for a gallery show. Or at least a professional illustrator — which Hanawalt also is — putting something together for an important, high-paying client.

She shares (perhaps over-shares) about her lifelong obsessions with horses and all things horsey…


…as well as an anecdote about how she convinced her boyfriend and his family to go see the film with her, and then plunges into a series of bullet-points discussing various aspects of the film. Usually through jokes made verbally, visually or verbally and visually.

• In case you’re unfamiliar with the genre, EVERY horse movie is about a plucky young person forming a special bond with an otherwise difficult and unruly horse. Because that’s the dream, for a wild creature to totally trust you and become your buddy. It’s the ultimate flattery. It’s also the ultimate disappointment when you take riding lessons and your horse doesn’t care about you and tries to rub you off on a tree.

• I’m disappointed they named him “Joey” instead of “War Horse.” Couldn’t they have at least named him something more horsey, like “Joey’s Little Wiseguy” or “Joey Me the Mo’Hay”?

• I’m also disappointed that War Horse isn’t more bad-ass and this isn’t a horse version of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.


I haven’t seen War Horse myself yet, but I give Hanawalt’s review of it two thumbs up. Read the whole thing The Hairpin.

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