I must confess that I have a secret admiration for cars, all kinds of cars.
Sports cars. Muscle cars. Hot Rods. 1930s, 1940s, 1950s cars.
There is something fascinating about the engineering behind a car. And, there is always something alluring about a beautifully designed car.
Consequently, when Generoso woke me up on Saturday morning to say that local artist Raúl the Third would be at our local comic book store (huzzah Hub Comics!) signing copies of his newest book, Lowriders in Space, we rolled out of bed on a cold, pre-winter Massachusetts morning to pick up our copy.
Lowriders in Space written by Cathy Camper and illustrated by Raúl the Third follows the restoration process mechanic extraordinaire, Lupe Impala, auto detail wizard, El Chavo Flapjack, and dazzling auto body artist, Elirio Malaria, endeavor to win the Universal Car Competition. The competition carries recognition and fame for our team of auto transformation champions, but most importantly, it awards enough prize money for the team to open up their own independent garage, a goal that would be impossible with their currently non-existent funds.
After gathering spare parts to get a stalled (and well forgotten) car up and running into at least the base of a good lowrider, the team take their new ride on a test drive, and rather than traveling down the block, their lowrider rockets into space, where they receive the assistance of the constellations and the planets of the universe to add the final, perfect touches to make their entry into the Universal Car Competition completely unforgettable.
Lowriders in Space is a fun and imaginative adventure tale for children and adults written about a culture that is rarely discussed in children’s books. We’re used to the knight battling the dragon, the children deceiving the witch, and the princess who needs rescue in children’s tales, but rarely do the protagonists in a child’s tale have a goal of realistic creative freedom gained from skills diligently and independently developed, as our auto team in Lowriders in Space do. Furthermore, in works created for mass consumption, lowrider culture has rarely been portrayed in a non-caricature fashion, and these historical portrayals almost never delve into the mechanical details and efforts taken to create the lowriders that people adore.
Lowriders in Space, while containing a clearly fictional component with the team’s space travel in a car, conveys the hard work, care, and passion dedicated to achieve the independence to create on one’s own terms, which is a nice, realistic, non-abstract message for all audiences. It’s a simple, effective narrative enhanced by some spectacular artwork, making it a perfect read on a Saturday morning or anytime you need a reminder that regardless of your current circumstances, reality does not need to be bleak.
Lowriders in Space is written by Cathy Camper and Raúl the Third is available via Chronicle Books.