Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Hot Dog Diary by Nathan Holzmann


(, 2018-2021) Since 2018 I have been avidly reading this lavishly illustrated journal comic documenting a decades ago ago bike trip across the country by artist Holzmann and his buddy, and I am thrilled every time a new chapter is released. Thrilled is a funny term here, because while the trip is certainly a journey, and I guess a series of tasks, and perhaps is epic by some standards, it is certainly not an adventure. Like, I imagine, any very long bike ride, this is mostly about appreciation of and endurance of the mundane. Thousands of miles of road, changing flats, eating at diners, finding a place to pee, getting rained on, meeting a few characters but mostly regular-assed boring people...all of this is a soothing, enjoyable, lovely non-narrative. These healthy, relatively well-adjusted dudes are not on a journey of discovery, are not engaging in debauchery, and face little adversity. But because Holzmann can draw 50 times better than he can bike (and he clearly can bike his ass off) it is just beautiful to see the road and the country and characters, and he really conveys how it feels to be tired or cold or exhausted. There are a few nice encounters along the way (meeting alum of their college amongst some wise monks, visiting a rope trick bar, appreciating outsider art) but mostly this comic, like the trip, is short on big meaning and l-o-n-g on just generally appreciating beauty (of this country's landscapes and of Holzmann's bad assed linework). Since he arrived at the Wisconsin Dells in the most recent installment I felt he may be wrapping it up (though now it occurs to me he might be heading to the East Coast, I assumed he was going to Chicago because he lived here for so long, but I can't remember the beginning of the story anymore). So jump in now to catch up before it concludes, or before they eat some Italian Beef at Portillo's and get slowed down.

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