Published on April 17th, 2015 | by Gloria Romano
“Lowriders in Space” Book Review
Title: Lowriders in Space
Written by Cathy Camper
Illustrated by Raul the Third
Ever rode in a lowrider? Would you like to? It looks like a lot of fun. They can hop and drop and cruise low and slow. But would you like to ride one through the cosmos? It’s a retro funky ride, especially for three car fanatics in this fun new graphic novel for children (and adults too).
Drawn by Raul the Third and written by Cathy Camper, “Lowriders in Space” takes readers into the world of Mexican-American culture and lowrider fandom. The story begins with three car enthusiasts with special skills. There’s Lupe Impala, the mechanic, El Chavo Flapjack Octopus, the polisher, and Elirio Malaria, the detail artist. The three friends love to work on cars and are saving their earnings towards opening their own garage. So when the annual car show rolls around, they find an old lowrider, install some jet engine parts, and, surprisingly, blast off into space. They go on a cosmic journey through the universe, where each star and planet brings their new car to life.
It may sound like any other graphic novel but what sets “Lowriders in Space” apart from other titles is the retro style artwork by Raul the Third. According to the artist, his inspiration comes from the lowrider magazines he had read and using simple tools for his artwork: ball point pens and scrap paper. Growing up these were his tools of the trade because they could be found just about anywhere. Raul uses these tools from his younger days again to create the characters and setting for this graphic novel. The pages appear to be soiled and browning while blue, black, and red pen inks occupy every single space. No additional colors are necessary. Paying close attention to detail, Raul creates a colorful world of anthropomorphic characters with their own retro and unique style.
As for the dialogue, Cathy Camper takes the lingo and slang from the Mexican American culture and adds it to the story. Familiar Spanish word such as “gracias” and “vamonos” are grouped together with new, exciting words that children my enjoy, such as “homies”, “que chido”, and “estellar”. References to Mexican culture and lowriders are dispersed throughout the novel, from the rabbit in the moon (an old Aztec tale) to our main characters (Impala is a reference to the Chevy Impala, a popular choice for lowriders). Camper even provides explanations for each phrase and reference, preventing any confusion by readers who may not be familiar with them. Her storyline and characters provide children with a very important lesson: hard work and team work pays off. The trio work hard together to create their own lowrider using their tools of the trade, which include whatever supplies they could find, their own skills, and their love of automobiles; very similar to the artist.
“Lowriders in Space” will entertain children with its colorful artwork and fun characters. They will enjoy learning new phrases from another place and culture and be inspired to create their own artwork using whatever supplies they can find. Even adults will be unable to put it down, especially those who always wanted to ride a lowrider.