Vacationers in Mexico should make sure to see the neon, the giant video screens, and the mini-skirted blondes. I must've missed out on all that when I was in Mexico, but, fortunately, the designers of El Caliente restaurant did not.
So begins the 1990 graphic novel by author and illustrator Kyle Baker, who won two Eisner awards at this year's Comic-Con.
Toxic breakups, crap bars, an unfinished manuscript entitled "Man, That's Grapefruit," a loopy neat-freak sister with weird and dangerous secrets... New York writer (part time) and bitter neurotic (full time) Anne has a lot to deal with. Which brings us to the aforementioned Mexican restaurants, "the only place you can drink abusively with your meal and not look like a lush."
The writing's funny as hell and pointed without being arch, sneaking in social criticism among the jokes and cinematic action. Baker's artwork, effortless-seeming sketches in three colors, captures the story's moments both large and small with amazing economy and authenticity, from Anne in full rant mode to a skanky bus ride to San Francisco.
Never read a graphic novel? Think they're just comic books? As proclaimed by the sales pitch on Saturn's back, "Hey, nothing wrong with comic books. Comics are pretty hip right now. Musicians read them."