Love and Rockets (comics)
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Love and Rockets (often abbreviated L&R) is a comic book series by the brothers Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez, whose stories published in the series were independent of each other. It was one of the first comic books in the alternative comics movement of the 1980s.
The Hernandez brothers produced stories independently of each other. Gilbert and Jaime produced the major of material, and tended to focus on particular casts of characters and settings. Those of Gilbert usually focused on a cast of characters in the fictional Mexican village of Palomar; the stories often featured magic realist elements. The Locas stories of Jaime centered around a social group in Los Angeles, particularly the Latin-American friends and sometimes-lovers Maggie and Hopey.
The brothers Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez self-published the first issue of Love and Rockets in 1981. In 1982, Fantagraphics Books republished this issue with a color cover. The series was published in at magazine size, larger than typical American comic books. Either Gilbert or Jaime, the series' main contributors, would provide the front cover for a given issue, and the other the back; they alternated these duties each issue. The first volume ended with the 50th issue in 1996. The second volume ran for twenty issues from 2001 to 2007 in standard US comic book size. A third series began in 2008, published annually in 100-page, graphic novel-sized issues.
The Hernandez brothers self-published the first issue of Love and Rockets in 1981, but since 1982 it has been published by Fantagraphics Books. The magazine temporarily ceased publication in 1996 after the release of issue #50, while Gilbert and Jaime went on to do separate series involving many of the same characters. However, in 2001 Los Bros revived the series as Love and Rockets Volume 2.
Love and Rockets contains several ongoing serial narratives, the most prominent being Gilbert's Palomar stories and Jaime's Hoppers 13 (aka Locas) stories. It also contains one-offs, shorter stories, surrealist jokes, and more.
Palomar tells the story of a fictional village in Latin America and its inhabitants. Its vibrant characters and sometimes-fantastic events are sometimes compared to the magical realism literary style of authors such as Gabriel García Márquez. The series is also sometimes referred to as Heartbreak Soup, after the first story set in Palomar.
Hoppers 13 follows the tangled lives of a group of primarily chicano characters, from their teenage years in the early days of the California punk scene to the present day. (Hoppers, or Huerta, is a fictional city based on the Hernandezes' home town of Oxnard, California.) Two memorable members of Jaime's cast are Margarita Luisa "Maggie" Chascarrillo and Esperanza "Hopey" Leticia Glass, whose on-again, off-again romance is a focus for many Hoppers 13 storylines. The series is also often called Locas (Spanish for "crazy women") because of the many quirky female characters depicted.
One aspect of the Love and Rockets opus is the way Los Bros Hernandez portray the passage of time in a relatively realistic manner despite the traditional constraints of the medium. For example, Maggie's character, a pro-solar mechanic, debuted as a slight yet curvy young adult living in a world both distinctly chicano and punk with a sci-fi twist. As Jaime developed her character in more detail, she started to gain weight slowly. Over the years, Maggie and the other characters have evolved, growing more layered and complex as their stories develop. The present Maggie, who now wears her hair bleached blonde and has a penchant for wearing sexy bathing suits on her rubenesque figure, is the manager of an apartment complex. Jaime has also made extensive use of flashbacks, with Maggie and the others presented at different ages from toddlers through teenagers and young adults to thirtysomethings. The first issue of volume two of Love and Rockets featured a cover with a range of different Maggie ages/looks.
The original runs of Palomar and Locas have each been collected in recent one-volume editions by Fantagraphics (see Palomar (graphic novel)), although not all of the stories involving "Locas" and "Palomar" characters are contained in these collections. The original fifty-issue Love and Rockets Volume One has also been reprinted in its entirety in both a fifteen-volume paperback library, and more recently a seven-volume mass-market paperback series by Fantagraphics. In addition, several hardcovers collect edited versions of the series tales.
Many attempts have been made to make L&R into a movie, or series of movies. However, until recently, the movie rights had been held up in litigation for over 15 years. On May 10, 2013 Gilbert Hernandez publicly announced in Toronto, Ontario that a deal had been struck to make a movie out of his "Palomar" story-line and that he was currently writing the script.
- Margarita Luisa "Maggie" Chascarrillo: best friend (and occasional lover) of Hopey; otherwise dates men, most prominently Ray Dominguez. Befriended Hopey in the punk rock scene of their southern Californian home town. Briefly becomes a world-travelling Pro-solar mechanic who goes on science-fiction flavored adventures in the early issues. Maggie along with Hopey were ranked #95 on Wizard Magazine's 200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of all time. Maggie was ranked 74th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
- Esperanza Leticia "Hopey" Glass: sharp-tongued, wild and adventurous best friend of Maggie. Portrayed usually as a lesbian. Plays bass very poorly in a series of punk bands. She was ranked 40th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
- Beatríz "Penny Century" García: bombshell friend to Maggie/Hopey and wife of the ridiculously wealthy H.R. Costigan.
- Isabel "Izzy" Reubens: Friend/mentor to Maggie. A writer who suffers a nervous breakdown after a divorce/abortion, becoming a notorious "witch lady" in Maggie's hometown.
- Daphne "Daffy" Matsumoto: a rich young friend of Maggie and Hopey who is a prominent supporting character in the early comics, but later goes off to college.
- Ray Dominguez: one of Maggie's boyfriends, a painter. Jaime follows his life from Hoppers to LA.
- Doyle Blackburn: Ray's childhood friend, who struggles with a history of violence.
- Rena Titañon and Vicki Glori: championship rivals in the world of women's Mexican wrestling. Rena is Maggie's friend and (through her many adventures) a loved (and hated) Latin American revolutionary icon. Vicki, later a wrestling trainer and league official, is Maggie's aunt and her guardian during her Huerta years.
- Danita Lincoln: Maggie's coworker at Vandy's. She dates Ray after Maggie leaves town; also works as a stripper with Doyle's girlfriend Lily.
- H.R. Costigan: horned billionaire who has on-again, off-again affair with Penny Century.
- Terry Downe: talented, coldly pretty guitar player who still pines for ex-girlfriend Hopey.
- Rand Race: handsome, world-famous pro-solar mechanic who hires Maggie and takes her on adventures, oblivious to her crush on him.
- Eulalio "Speedy" Ortiz: Isabel's brother, a member of the local "Hoppers" gang, shared a mutual crush on Maggie until his untimely death.
- Vivian "Frogmouth" Solis: a troublemaking, out-of-control stripper friend of Doyle's who initiates separate affairs with both Ray and Maggie while ineptly negotiating her way through the lives of several local gangsters.
- Luba: hammer-wielding, sexually promiscuous, enormously busty, no-nonsense mayor of Palomar. Luba was ranked 60th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
- Luba's children: Maricela, Guadalupe, Doralis, Casimira, Socorro, Joselito, Concepcion.
- Luba's lovers: Archie, Khamo, Peter, Jose.
- Ofelia: Luba's cousin who helped raise her and her children.
- Heraclio and Carmen: a loving couple who served as central characters for many early Palomar stories.
- Israel, Satch, Vincete, Jesús: Heraclio and Pipo's childhood gang of friends.
- Chelo: sheriff of Palomar, midwife who delivered many of the main characters.
- Pipo, Gato, Sergio: beautiful, vain Pipo; her angry but devoted husband Gato, and her son (by Manuel) Sergio. a world-famous soccer star.
- Tonantzín Villasenor: beautiful, hard-partying Palomar girl who becomes passionately politically active.
- Manuel and Soledad: friends/lovers/rivals, stars of the first Palomar story "Heartbreak Soup"
- Fritz, Petra, Venus: Fritz and Petra are Luba's long-lost half-sisters who share her voluptuous figure and penchant for adventure. Venus is Petra's precocious, comics-loving daughter.
- María: Luba's mother, who abandoned her when she was a toddler. Emigrated to United States and became mother to Fritz and Petra.
- Errata Stigmata: a somewhat surreal character who develops stigmata as a reaction to severe emotional trauma. Her first appearance was in "Radio Zero" and her origin is told in "Tears from Heaven".
This list provides an example of the types of stories that helped Love and Rockets gain critical acclaim.
- Mechanics - the original "Maggie the mechanic" story, in which Maggie travels to Africa with a group of Pro-solar mechanics and becomes caught in the middle of a political revolution. Introduced Jaime's artwork and storytelling style.
- The Death of Speedy Ortiz- Jaime moves away from the "Maggie the mechanic" stories to permanently settle on adventures in Maggie's personal life. Maggie's longtime crush Speedy commits suicide. She also begins dating the understated artist Ray.
- Flies on the Ceiling - The story of Isabel Reuben's nervous breakdown in Mexico, where she moves after having an abortion and a divorce.
- Wigwam Bam - Hopey leaves Maggie and her hometown of Hoppers to find adventures, dealing with being too old for her punk rock lifestyle.
- Home School - Using Peanuts and Dennis the Menace inspired artwork, Jaime tells the story of toddler Maggie and slightly-older Isabel becoming friends under the shadow of fighting parents.
- The Ghost of Hoppers - Grown-up Maggie, now an apartment manager in the San Fernando valley, sees visions of ghosts after a creepy visit from Isabel (from Love and Rockets Vol. 2).
- The Love Bunglers - a middle-aged Maggie comes into her own and comes to terms with Hopey and Ray. (from Love and Rockets: New Stories #3-4)
- Heartbreak Soup - First Palomar story. Tells the story of notorious ladies' man Manuel, and his affair with beautiful 14-year-old Pipo, and its effect on his friendship with repressed misanthrope Soledad.
- An American in Palomar - A self-important American photographer tries to frame Palomar as a downtrodden, poverty-stricken town to further his own career.
- For the Love of Carmen - A one-issue meditation on the marriage of Heraclio and Carmen Calderon, citizens of Palomar.
- Human Diastrophism - Palomar's residents hunt for a serial killer as Luba finds herself helplessly in love with a young construction worker, and hard-partying Tonantzin becomes politically active. Published in book form under the title Blood of Palomar.
- Love and Rockets X - Mostly set outside of Palomar, a young, white garage band named Love and Rockets runs into racism between blacks and whites; as well as clashes between rich and poor through Los Angeles. Set near the time of the 1992 riots. Tangentally inspired by how the actual English band Love and Rockets got their name from this comics series.
- Poison River - An immensely complex story of Luba's pre-Palomar life. Details a complex plot involving the Mexican government, the mob, transsexuals, racist comic books and Luba's beauty queen mother Maria.
Graphic novels and collections
All published at Fantagraphics :
- Music for Mechanics, by Los Bros Hernandez, October 1985, ~140 pages
Preface by Carter Scholz
- Chelo’s Burden, by Los Bros Hernandez, June 1986, ~150 pages
Preface by Gary Groth
- Las Mujeres Perdidas, by Los Bros Hernandez (only Gilbert and Jaime), August 1987, ~140 pages
- Tears from Heaven, by Los Bros Hernandez (Gilbert and Jaime; one cover by Mario), January 1988, ~125 pages
- House of Raging Women, by Los Bros Hernandez (only Gilbert and Jaime from now on), September 1988, ~125 pages
- Duck Feet, by Los Bros Hernandez, September 1988, ~125 pages
- The Death of Speedy, by Jaime Hernandez, November 1989, ~125 pages
- Blood of Palomar, by Gilbert Hernandez, December 1989, ~125 pages
- Flies on the Ceiling, by Los Bros Hernandez (principally Jaime), October 1991, ~110 pages
- Love & Rockets X, by Gilbert Hernandez, July 1993, ~90 pages
- Wigwam Bam, by Jaime Hernandez, March 1994, ~125 pages
- Poison River, by Gilbert Hernandez, September 1994, ~190 pages
- Chester Square, by Jaime Hernandez, July 1996, ~155 pages
- Luba Conquers the World, by Gilbert Hernandez, December 1996, ~130 pages
- Hernandez Satyricon, by Los Bros Hernandez (Mario, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez), August 1997, ~110 pages
- Whoa Nellie!, by Jaime Hernandez, June 2000, ~70 pages
- Fear of Comics, by Gilbert Hernandez, October 2000, ~120 pages
- Locas in Love, by Jaime Hernandez, October 2000, ~120 pages (End of Volume 1)
- Luba in America ("Luba", Tome 1), by Gilbert Hernandez, 2001, ~165 pages (Beginning of Volume 2)
- Dicks and Deedees, by Jaime Hernandez, June 2003, ~90 pages
- The Book of Ofelia ("Luba", Tome 2), by Gilbert Hernandez, December 2005, ~250 pages
- Ghost of Hoppers, by Jaime Hernandez, December 2005, ~120 pages
- Three Daughters ("Luba", Tome 3), by Gilbert Hernandez, August 2006, ~140 pages
- The Education of Hopey Glass, by Jaime Hernandez, April 2008, ~130 pages
- High Soft Lisp, by Gilbert Hernandez, April 2010, ~140 pages
- God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls, by Jaime Hernandez, July 2012, ~140 pages
- Julio's Day, by Gilbert Hernandez, April 2013, ~110 pages
- The Love Bunglers, by Jaime Hernandez, April 2014, ~100 pages
Volume 1 was re-released in smaller "omnibus" style trade paperbacks. Starting in 2010, volume 2's stories began getting re-releases as well.
- Maggie the Mechanic, by Jaime Hernandez (Locas Book 1, from Volume I), 272 pages (2007)
- The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., by Jaime Hernandez (Locas Book 2, from Volume I), 272 pages (2007)
- Perla la Loca, by Jaime Hernandez (Locas Book 3, from Volume I), 288 pages (2007)
- Heartbreak Soup, by Gilbert Hernandez (Palomar Book 1, from Volume I), 288 pages (2007)
- Human Diastrophism, by Gilbert Hernandez (Palomar Book 2, from Volume I), 288 pages (2007)
- Beyond Palomar, by Gilbert Hernandez (Palomar Book 3, from Volume I), 256 pages (2007)
- Amor Y Cohetes, by Jaime & Gilbert Hernandez (Non-Loca and Palomar comics from Volume I), 280 pages (2008)
- Penny Century, by Jaime Hernandez (Locas Book 4, from "Penny Century" and "Whoa, Nellie!" comics, plus "Maggie and Hopey Color Fun"), 240 pages (2010)
- Esperanza, by Jaime Hernandez (Locas Book 5, from Volume II), 248 pages (2011)
- Luba and Her family, by Gilbert Hernandez (from Volume II), 312 pages (2014)
Edited segments of both the Palomar and the Maggie stories are available in hardcover format.
- Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories by Jaime Hernandez (2004)
- Locas II: Maggie, Hopey, and Ray by Jaime Hernandez (2009)
- Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories by Gilbert Hernandez (2003)
- Luba by Gilbert Hernandez (2009)
The series continues in annual trade paperbacks, entitled Love & Rockets: New Stories. To date, six exist:
- New Stories, volume 1, 112 pages (2008)
- New Stories, volume 2, 104 pages (2009)
- New Stories, volume 3, 104 pages (2010)
- New Stories, volume 4, 104 pages (2011)
- New Stories, volume 5, 96 pages (2012)
- New Stories, volume 6, 100 pages (2013)
- The Love and Rockets page at Fantagraphics
- A chronology, character list, and many links to reviews and other fan pages
- A review of L&R at PopMatters
- Shelf Life is a Sequart column that often reviews early Love and Rockets books.
- A review of Gilbert's L&R spinoff New Tales of Old Palomar #1 at The Daily Cross Hatch, from March 15, 2007
- Interview with Gilbert Hernandez at The Daily Cross Hatch, from April 2, 2007
- Interview with Gilbert Hernandez, Part 2 at The Daily Cross Hatch, from May 1, 2007
- Xicanosmosis A cultural studies essay examining the relationship between the work of Frida Kahlo and Gilbert Hernandez