Wednesday, January 9, 2008

LOCAS, by Jaime Hernandez

I wasn't aware of the Love and Rockets series during it's first run, and only really found out about it after moving to San Francisco and joining a dyke-rock group as the only male member. The singer and the guitarist, both serious comic book fans, turned me on to L&R, and lent me a few random issues. Sort of like a group of soap opera stories delivered in comic book form, Love and Rockets combines the efforts of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, with each issue featuring separate story episodes by each artist. The story that most brought me in was that which centered on Maggie and Hopey, two friends/lovers from a mostly Latino neighborhood in LA. But with just a snippet of their lives here and there, gleamed from the random issues I borrowed, I didn't have a solid idea of their history.

Imagine my excitement when I found this massive tome, collecting all of the Maggie and Hopey stories from the first run of Love and Rockets into one 710 page book, at the Irving branch of the SF Public Library. I snatched it off the shelf, barely able to believe my luck, and dove into it the moment I got home.

But 710 pages is no quick-read; I waded through this book for a week before I finally finished. The amount of time I spent with these characters, and the engaging portrayal of them, made coming to the last page feel almost like a break-up.

That's what's so amazing about this work. It's incredible the way it captures the sense of the passage of time, and the effect that such passage has on relationships, and the nostalgia and melancholy that accompanies it. It's amazing how emotionally sharp-shooting this book is, hitting readers right in the heart, making them feel connected to the characters.

It's definitely a crucial read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good soap-opera style comic, with L.A. Latino influences, and a punk obsession, and wrestling women. It does take a while to get into it though (the first 100 or so pages didn't really sink the hook into me), but once it catches hold, it's as engaging as a new infatuation.

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