Hot Dog Beach #3
Art and words by Lale Westvind
Disclaimer: I received review copies of issues 1-3 of Hot Dog Beach from Lale Westvind.
I discovered Lale Westvind’s comic zines when I attended a panel at the 2015 Chicago Alternative Comics Festival (CAKE) titled “Comic Books and Speculative Fiction.” When the conversation drifted into the idea of optimistic sci-fi—a concept that feels foreign in this time of explosively popular dystopic fiction—Westvind was adamant that sci-fi did not have to be depressing and defeatist. She spoke passionately about the variety she felt was possible within the genre. My friends and I all walked out of the panel infatuated and headed straight to her table to buy her zines.
Westvind publishes a number of other-worldly comics, and Hot Dog Beach is especially wild and fun. The series follows an odd-couple pair of freelancers, Mop and Fuzz, as they do the bidding of their current boss, Mr. Biznass. They’re not the most efficient or ferocious of employees, and they’re definitely more adept at beer-drinking than problem-solving. When issue #3 opens, they’re taking a stolen motorcycle to the bizarre home of Jazzy Milkman, who will give them a Big Digger. Mop and Fuzz engage in a mini-odyssey as they navigate the maze-like building and encounter a seemingly endless line of ghostly figures, a gun-toting cowboy in desperate need of a bathroom, and a sexy siren-esque bartender before they track down Jazzy.
I love stories that do their world building swiftly and without clunky exposition. Westvind deftly provides color and context to the world of Hot Dog Beach while the plot builds and lets her readers pick up the details. Interestingly, the sci-fi elements of Hot Dog Beach can’t be described as optimistic or pessimistic. Inhuman features say more about the personalities of the characters than they do about the nature of the world, and the advanced technology makes the story more fun. Why shouldn’t there be a giant robot named Snowball or a building you have to exit via parachute? This is the future. Or another world. Or something.
Our heroes, Mop and Fuzz, are one-half beach bum, one-fourth bounty hunter, and one-fourth comedy duo. Fuzz is strange and particular while Mop is blunt, brash, and unceasingly positive. Both of them bounce back quickly from the various setbacks that keep them from their goals, but Mop especially is enjoying the trip. She’s also super buff and, incredibly, she’s not the only buff woman in the comic! The mysterious woman with the cannon-arm that Mr. Biznass is tracking is also super buff, as are other female minor characters that the pair encounters. Comics need more buff women!
Be warned: if you like clean, bare-bones, Adrian Tomine-esque art, Hot Dog Beach might not be for you. Westvind really amped things up for issue #3, so as Mop and Fuzz stumble through Jazzy Milkman’s labyrinthine home, we encounter panels filled with jungle flora and violently eccentric wall art.
The dynamic nature of Westvind’s art enhances the noisier moments of the story. For example, when Mop speaks into an intercom and the intercom begins to wail, the “EEEEEEE” cuts across panel lines and really gives the impression of an earsplitting sound being emitted. Westvind also artfully plays with scale; as Mop and Fuzz stumble through Jazzy Milkman’s home, the feeling that it is not just enormous but endless settles in. I found myself wondering how they were ever going to get out.
If you want to check out the fun, vibrant world that Westvind has created with Hot Dog Beach, you can snag all three issues at her online store, or get issue three through Space Face Books. I recommend kicking back in a lawn chair with a beer in one hand and Hot Dog Beach #3 in the other.