Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Love and Rockets!!

I have a funny old history with Love and Rockets. I came to it quite late, reading old graphic novels from Titan. It takes a while until the artists/writers find their feet, but once they get there – wowsers. Some of the middle stories from the first volume are stunning and near the end it has a huge impact, really pushing the boundaries of storytelling.
Jaime has got to be one of my all-time favourite artists. Every panel looks like it’s come straight from a life-drawing class – each character just moves in a realistic way. Gilbert is a bit more cartoony, but has an appealing style and he’s a great storyteller – although a bit surreal sometimes.
After volume one of L&R, the Hernandez brothers created some spin-off series and one-shots, and occasionally it felt a bit monotonous – it was all extremely well told, but maybe due to the frequency of the comic, it was easy to lose track of what was going on. I definitely lost track of which of Luba’s young relatives was a lesbian, they seemed to all be coming out left right and centre!
Overall, I felt like the guys needed to do something new...
Then, the brothers began an annual Love and Rockets comic. It's kind of a good idea, pooling the work into one annual book - such a shame it's not in colour. The first couple of issues didn’t really wow me, to be honest. Gilbert got even more surreal, and Jaime kind-of went off in a tangent, telling tales about superhero versions of characters.
And then the latest L&R book came along, issue three. Blimey. It just shows the strength of both brothers. Gilbert’s story is kind of surreal, but clever and a great read. And Jaime. Wow. I don’t even know where to start.
Jaime goes back to telling a more normal story about Maggie, and the volume kicks off with a tale about her going on a date with old flame Ray. Then later in the book, we get Browntown, a centre-piece focusing on young Maggie and her siblings. It’s a real shocker, very strong. It shows what happens to her young brother (who has never appeared in the series before) when he comes into contact with some of the local boys. It’s a really brave story and I’ve never read anything like it. It just shows how we’ve all done weird things as kids – but this takes it to the extreme. Congrats to Jaime for having the courage to tell it.
And it doesn’t end there. There’s one final story – told in the present day – and the final-page revelation is jaw-dropping and very clever indeed.
Very rare these days to get a comic that makes you want to re-read the entire series – which is exactly what I’m doing! I think I will probably enjoy those middle spin-off comics a lot more now!
(The cover above is from issue 1 - gorgeous eh? But if you wanna check it out, try the new issue 3)

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