Just finished up three of the 7 volumes of the Love and Rockets collection I recently purchased. When the comics were originally published, the issues would have stories from both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. These reprints have separated them out, so I’m unable to read them in the original order they were published. I decided to read the Jaime stories first since that’s the story arc I was most familiar with.
There is a lot of progression as the series goes on. It starts out very… comic booky. There are scantily clad women, dinosaurs, rockets, and generally silly plots. It starts out set in some sort of fictional place. As the series goes along, the plot becomes more serious (mostly) and the world turns into ours. The two main characters are Maggie and Hopey, and we follow their ups and downs throughout their adventures across the country.
As the series went on, the stories became more involving. There are all sorts of romantic twists and turns, a punk rock undercurrent, and lots and lots of character development. I gotta say, I became more and more amazed at Jaime’s artwork as the comic progressed. His ability to set a mood without words is downright cinematic. Check out a few of these panels…
I love the expressions, the action (in a freeze frame no less), the pure graphic elements. I can’t get enough of the shape of the neck of the guitar to the left. I also love how it is a reflection of the background to the right of the panel. The blankness of the left side says a lot about the plot as well as the characters at that point. This sort of thing was done on every page, just amazing… Check out this title page:
How’s that for graphic awesomeness? I’d be proud of any still from a movie I shot that was that perfectly composed.
There are some problems though. There’s a little too much gratuitous nudity and sex for my tastes. There are some times when it makes sense in there, but more often than not, it’s just for titillation. Another thing that I wish was developed more in discussions about the strip is just how sad all the characters are and it is tied directly to the decisions the characters make. Willful unemployment, drunkenness, uncontrollable anger, promiscuity, all lead to broken people. Most of the people I’ve seen writing about this series seem to have the attitude of “It’s too bad that things didn’t work out” but I’m glad that Jaime made the consequences fairly severe. The end of this series has the two main characters reunited in the back of a police car (for assault) driving towards the station.
I’m reading the volume that collects the oddball stuff that isn’t directly tied to the two main story arcs. So far, my favorite character in there is Errata Stigmata. I eyed a story of hers revolving around her youth trying to deal with he stigmata condition. She gets taken to a convention called “Stigmatacon” and things proceed to happen. Looking forward to that. Once I’m done with that book, I’ll tackle Gilbert’s volume.