Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Review: LOVE AND ROCKETS: New Stories #8
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS – @fantagraphics
[This review was originally published on Patreon.]
WRITERS: Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez – @BetomessGilbert @xaimeh
ARTISTS: Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez
EDITOR: Eric Reynolds – @earinc
COVER: Gilbert Hernandez
ISBN: 978-1-60699-865-6; paperback (January 2016)
100pp, B&W, $14.99 U.S.
A new volume of Love and Rockets: New Stories arrived in book shops and select comic book stores just about two months ago. Created by brothers, Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez (a.k.a. Los Bros.), Love and Rockets began as a self-published zine before becoming a magazine-sized comic book. Now, Love and Rockets is an annual publication in a format that resembles a blend of the literary journal, the European graphic album, and the comic book trade paperback
Love and Rockets: New Stories #8 sports a striking cover illustration drawn by Gilbert. The cover features the predominant subject matter of Gilbert's contributions to New Stories #8, the numerous crazy women who want to look like busty Fritz, the sister of Gilbert's signature character, Luba.
First, Gilbert concludes his movie-within-a comic, “The Magic Voyage of Aladdin.” This B-movie trash/fantasia pits Morgan Le Fey (as played by Fritz) and Aladdin against two evil (b)witches, Circe and Jasmin, who are trying to obtain Aladdin's magic lamp. The role of Circe is played by Mila, a young woman who does indeed resemble Fritz. Mila becomes Fritz, Jr. and begins to believe that Fritz is trying to sabotage her. To complicate matters, another ambitious (or crazy) young woman becomes Baby Fritz. Thus begins a struggle for identity and control that includes fetish and porn film directors, drugs, snitching, a man with two cocks, and more Fritz imitators.
In New Stories #7, Jaime began his latest “Locas” epic by taking his signature characters, Maggie and Hopey, life-long friends and former lovers, on a road trip to Huerta for a “punk rock reunion.” In this volume, the second chapter, “I Guess I Forgot to Stand Pigeon-Toed,” finds Maggie meeting longtime pal, Daffy, for the actual concert. Old friends and old enemies make appearances; new disaffected youth slash young punks take in show. But will Hopey actually show up?
“Locas” isn't the only Jaime in New Stories #8. He gives us two more chapters of “Princess Animus,” a comix serial that recalls Los Bros.' classic sci-fi/monster, B.E.M. comics of the early days of Love and Rockets. Also, Tonta Agajanian returns – in time to move in with her new guardian. Plus, Jaime takes us to “Isla Guerra,” for a strange tale of nautical tragedy.
Normally, I find the “Fritz-capades” of Gilbert's New Stories shocking, but his contributions to this edition of L&R seem tame to me post-Blubber #1. Yeah, last year, I read the first issue of Gilbert's new solo comic book series, Blubber, and it was one of the best comic books that I have read over the last few years. It is not as if this latest Fritz epic is of poor quality. Quite the contrary, this tale of people who obsess instead of love deftly defines fandom as something akin to possession. Here, fetish is an appetite for destruction, both of self and others.
I know this sounds crazy, but it seems as if Gilbert plays it safe here in New Stories. Meanwhile, in Blubber, he has unleashed his imagination. As he unleashes his imagination in Blubber, he is evolving as a comics creator. He is like the late French comics master, Moebius, tackling the philosophical, the religious, the spiritual, the profane, and the absurd. New Stories is Gilbert merely tracking through the work that made his famous.
On the other hand, Jaime is finding fresh, fertile soil in all his old landscapes. One might argue that Locas has had some unpretty arcs (as some have indeed argued). However, Maggie and Hopey and everyone that has been part of their world: directly, indirectly, and sometimes both have moved forward and even evolved over time. In ways subtle and obvious, Jaime's pen shows that the characters have aged, but most shockingly, that they are aging.
Before he expired and accepted his promised dukedom in Perdition, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that the U.S. Constitution was not a living document, but that it was dead. So many long comic books are at least dead-like; the intellectual property owners just keep changing the mummified corpse's rags. However, Jaime's Love and Rockets comics comprise a living document, changing with the times and not trying to hold back the years. Thank you, sir.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
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