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How Lisa Hanawalt’s Animals Teach Us About What it Means to Be Human

Lisa Hanawalt’s characters make animals out of people. Or is it the other way around? Here’s a video essay about how her animals bring us closer to what it means to be human.
Tuca And Bertie
By  · Published on June 7th, 2020

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Lisa Hanawalt, the production designer of Bojack Horseman, creator of Tuca & Bertie, and author of a smattering of independent comics, makes animals out of people. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Hanawalt’s work envisions a diverse kingdom of animal-headed humans. And while at a glance her anthropomorphic style may appear to just be a stylistic choice, a closer look reveals that Hanawalt’s animal-headed characters serve a greater purpose than just being a “look.”

The latest video essay by What’s So Great About That? argues that Hanawalt’s characters, in assuming an animal form, are able to simultaneously distance us while bringing us closer to what it means to be human. It’s an authenticity independent of realism.

You can watch “Lisa Hanawalt: Being Human by Being Animal” here:

Who made this?

We’ve covered Grace Lee’s work on FSR before and with good reason: she’s an expert at tackling dense and challenging content with a keen eye, elegant flourish, and overwhelming cultural fluency. You can follow Lee on her YouTube channel What’s So Great About That? here. You can follow Lee on Twitter here. And you can support Lee on Patreon here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).