Happy Meal Time Machine : Ana Galvan’s “Afternoon At McBurger’s”

Clocking in at a lean and mean 64 pages, Spanish cartoonist Ana Galvan’s latest, Afternoon At McBurger’s (originally published in 2020 as Tarde En McBurger’s, coming soon in a hardback English-language edition from Fantagraphics with translation by Jamie Richards) packs a tremendous conceptual wallop cleverly hidden within the trappings of a fairly breezy narrative. Inventively structured, meticulously rendered, and lavishly adorned with a riso-friendly color palette, it’s an auteur work in every sense of the term, a comic that could have been made by no one other than its creator. It’s also, and I say this with nothing but respect, a rather deft extended sleight-of-hand trick.

Which is to say, if laid out in strictly linear fashion, it would probably be a bit too obvious for its own good on the whole, but the mark of any visionary is to assemble things in a manner that reflects their own point of view, and often that involves presenting readers with a new take on fairly standard storytelling tropes. I mean, time travel narratives are nearly as old as time itself, and this is hardly the first occasion in which they’ve been utilized within the confines of what could broadly be termed “YA” fiction, but what Galvan is concerned with more than the nuts and bolts of the brief glimpses of the future the girls in her story are “gifted” with is the implications these “life spoilers” have on them in the here and now — and, on the other side of the coin, she’s also exploring by default how the mindsets of the youngsters’ here and now selves shape their perceptions of who they will become.

Not that the here and now of her comic is necessarily our own here and now, mind you — unless you know of fast food joints that run time travel lotteries for kids (appropriately termed “Once Parties”) or people who have little egg-shaped household robot servitors — but at its core the character of this world and its de facto social order is at least as familiar as it is exotic. Again, Galvan’s real skill lies in presenting the tried and true through a set of eyes that makes it all seem fresh bordering on the revelatory. And, in that sense, it’s not unfair to describe this as a pastel-hued rumination on the nature of adolescence itself, a coming-of-age fable for the first generation to have their lives directly impacted by AI algorithms from cradle to grave — even if that’s a gross oversimplification of things on its face. Loss of wonder and innocence and egalitarianism is still a part of growing up, but the effects of those losses have broader implications these days than they once did in that they’re now every bit as technologically based as they are biologically and socially. And while the corporate overlords of McBurger’s aren’t cruel enough to show the “winners” of their contest the steps and stages that will lead to the futures they’re temporarily dropped into, even a quick look at how things are going turn out for you will necessarily effect how a person goes about their lives in the present.

So, yeah — there’s a hell of a lot to consider when reading this comic, and Galvan’s layered, multi-faceted approach to telling it results in something of a narrative “onion” that reveals new layers beneath each one that readers peels away. Again, it’s not so much a confusing or convoluted approach as it is an inherently clever one, and while that’s undoubtedly deliberate, it’s to the cartoonist’s great credit that she’s not out to wow you with her ingenuity — she’s simply following her own artistic instincts, and that’s still the both the best and most honest way to make art in the first place.

Anyone who’s read Galvan’s previous Fanta-published work, the 2019 short story collection Press Enter To Continue, will recognize this new book as being very much “of a piece,” both thematically and aesthetically, with its predecessor, but don’t take that to mean she’s resting on her laurels and simply staking out familiar territory. While it’s true that she isn’t expanding her approach per se, she’s doing something every bit as important : refining it, sharpening it, and deepening it. She’s clearly got a very specific — and unique — methodology, as well as a very particular set of concerns and a very unorthodox prism through which she views them, but I don’t see that, at least to this point, as limiting the scope of her imagination in any way. In fact, I defy anyone to read both books in one go and not be utterly convinced that she’s finding both her her voice and her footing remarkably quickly and that her best work is probably yet to come.

But hey, what the hell do I know? I mean, it’s not like I can see the future or anything. In the present, though, I think it’s entirely fair to say that Ana Galvan is proving to be one of the most intriguing and exciting emerging talents in comics.


Afternoon At McBurger’s is slated for release on December 7th, 2022, and can be pre-ordered from the Fantagraphics website at https://www.fantagraphics.com/collections/coming-soon/products/afternoon-at-mcburgers

Also, this review is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

Here’s The Trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home

I haven’t really been that excited about the MCU lately. Infinity War was such a big film that, to me, it felt like the proper ending point for the whole story. Everything that follows has been a bit anti-climatic. That said, I do like the Spider-Man films and I do hope that Marvel will eventually make a movie about the low-budget European version of Spider-Man, Night Monkey.

Here’s the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Music Video of the Day: You’re Insane by Rod Stewart (1977, directed by ????)

On August 1st, 1981, MTV premiered. Over the course of 24 hours, 116 unique music videos were played on MTV.  Yes, there was a time when the M actually did stand for music.

The 113th music video to premiere on MTV was the video for You’re Insane by Rod Stewart.  Significantly, it was the last Rod Stewart to play during MTV’s first day of broadcast.  MTV played a total of 11 Rod Stewart videos on its first day of air.  By contrast, they only played two videos from David Bowie and Blondie and one each from Talking Heads, Phil Collins, and The Ramones.  MTV was truly RSTV during its first day of broadcast.


The First Videos Shown on MTV:

  1. Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles
  2. You Better Run by Pat Benatar
  3. She Won’t Dance With Me by Rod Stewart
  4. You Better You Bet By The Who
  5. Little Suzi’s On The Up by PH.D
  6. We Don’t Talk Anymore by Cliff Richard
  7. Brass in Pocket by Pretenders
  8. Time Heals by Todd Rundgren
  9. Take It On The Run by REO Speedwagon
  10. Rockin’ in Paradise by Styx
  11. When Things Go Wrong by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters
  12. History Never Repeats by Split Enz
  13. Hold On Loosely by .38 Special
  14. Just Between You And Me by April Wine
  15. Sailing by Rod Stewart
  16. Iron Maiden by Iron Maiden
  17. Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon
  18. Better Than Blue by Michael Johnson
  19. Message of Love by The Pretenders
  20. Mr. Briefcase by Lee Ritenour
  21. Double Life by The Cars
  22. In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins
  23. Looking for Clues by Robert Palmer
  24. Too Late by Shoes
  25. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  26. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy by Rod Stewart
  27. Surface Tension by Rupert Hine
  28. One Step Ahead by Split Enz
  29. Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
  30. I’m Gonna Follow You by Pat Benatar
  31. Savannah Nights by Tom Johnston
  32. Lucille by Rockestra
  33. The Best of Times by Styx
  34. Vengeance by Carly Simon
  35. Wrathchild by Iron Maiden
  36. I Wanna Be a Lifeguard by Blotto
  37. Passion by Rod Stewart
  38. Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello
  39. Don’t Let Me Go by REO Speedwagon
  40. Remote Control and Illegal by The Silencers
  41. Angel of the Morning by Juice Newton
  42. Little Sister by Rockpile with Robert Plant
  43. Hold On To The Night by Bootcamp
  44. Dreamin’ by Cliff Richard
  45. Is It You? by Lee Ritenour 
  46. Tusk by Fleetwood Mac
  47. He Can’t Love You by Michael Stanley Band
  48. Tough Guys by REO Speedwagon
  49. Rapture by Blondie
  50. Don’t Let Go The Coat by The Who
  51. Ain’t Love A Bitch by Rod Stewart
  52. Talk of the Town by The Pretenders
  53. Can’t Happen Here by Rainbow
  54. Thank You For Being A Friend by Andrew Gold
  55. Bring It All Home by Gerry Rafferty
  56. Sign of the Gypsy Queen by April Wine
  57. The Man With The Child In His Eyes by Kate Bush
  58. All Night Long by Raindow
  59. Boys Keep Swinging by David Bowie
  60. Rat Race by The Specials
  61. Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
  62. Victim by Bootcamp
  63. Tonight’s the Night (Gonna be Alright) by Rod Stewart
  64. Cruel to be Kind by Nick Lowe
  65. A Little In Love by Cliff Richard
  66. Wild-Eyed Southern Boys by 38 Special
  67. Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
  68. Celebrate The Bullet by The Selecter
  69. More Than I Can Say by Leo Sayer
  70. A Message To You, Rudy by The Specials
  71. Heart of Glass by Blondie
  72. Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight by Rod Stewart
  73. Kid by The Pretenders
  74. Come What May by Lani Hall & Herb Alpert
  75. I Got You by Split Enz
  76. Sister Disco by The Who
  77. Fashion by David Bowie
  78. Love Stinks by J. Geils Band
  79. Johnny and Mary by Robert Palmer
  80. Tomorrow by Shoes
  81. Prime Time by The Tubes
  82. Cruel You by Shoes
  83. Calling All Girls by Hilly Michaels
  84. I Was Only Joking by Rod Stewart
  85. Let’s Go by The Cars
  86. Do You Remember Rock’N’Roll Radio by The Ramones
  87. Ridin’ The Storm Out by REO Speedwagon
  88. You’re In My Heart by Rod Stewart
  89. So Long by Fischer Z
  90. I Don’t Want To Know by Robin Lane and the Chartbusters
  91. Go Back Home Again by Andrew Gold
  92. Time For Me To Fly by REO Speedwagon
  93. Rough Boys by Pete Townshend
  94. Dangrous Type by The Cars
  95. Turn It On Again by Genesis
  96. We’re So Close by Carly Simon
  97. Kid Blue by Louise Goffin
  98. Vienna by Ultravox
  99. (What’s Son Funny Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding by Elvis Costello
  100. I Won’t Let You Down by Ph.D
  101. Holiday by Nazareth
  102. In My Arms Again by Shoes
  103. Passing Strangers by Ultravox
  104. Turning Japanese by The Vapors
  105. Roll With The Changes by REO Speedwagon
  106. I Hope I Never by Split Enz
  107. Blondes (Have More Fun) by Rod Stewart
  108. Never Let Her Slip Away by Andrew Gold
  109. Tattooed Love Boys by The Pretenders
  110. Peter Gunn Theme and Remote Control by The Silencers
  111. Only the Strong Survive by REO Speedwagon
  112. Waiting for the Weekend by The Vapors