March 5, 2013

Love and Rockets: 30 Years

Love and Rockets, one of the longest running independent comics, celebrated it's 30th anniversary in 2012. Here's a look back at the work of brothers Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez.

Through the years!
Originally published in black and white magazine format in the 1980s, the Love and Rockets series has come a long way from it's roots.  Brothers Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez's tales fused elements of science-fiction wonder and angst-ridden drama within their stories. Adding a touch of punk rock music and issues involving homosexuality were also hallmarks of their work.  Thirty years later their powerful creator-owned and independent work, still remains one of the best in the genre.

Jaime Hernandez's stories bordered mainly on two characters Maggie Chascarillo and Hopey Glass and their neighborhood, Hoppers. Further stories would later see the characters move on with their lives, taking them to some memorable times of their history together. Thanks to Maggie being a pro solar mechanic, Jaime initially gave her out of this world adventures in the early issues, traveling to far off locales and countries.  In later stories, Jaime fleshed out Maggie's bloodline and family history with touch of wrestling. Seminal storylines such as "In The Valley of The Polar Bears" and "Chester Square" were fused with adventures involving life in and out of the squared circle.  Hopey was the star of her own harrowing saga in "Wig Wam Bam", which unfortunately culminated in the initial split of the duo.

In contrast, Gilbert Hernandez's work concentrated on the inhabitants of a small town in South America, known as Palomar. The star of Gilbert's stories centered on the character Luba, whose own intricate and complex family history and background, comprised the latter part of volume one of the series. Gilbert's work had more political and just as equal social themes in his stories. Politics weaved their way into classic sagas such as "Human Diastrophism" and the "Poison River". Social issues such as racism were tackled in the "X" storyline. Amazingly, all three story arcs have connected characters that bridge the modern and old worlds together.

Maggie and Hopey

The brothers' love of music, especially punk rock, also found it's way in stories, such as concerts and even Maggie and Hopey touring briefly with their own band. The Hernandez brothers were quite progressive with their views of homosexuality, with Jaime chronicling the ladies' first experiences (Maggie and Hopey) in his stories, just as equally as Gilbert did.  Oh, don't worry before the end of volume one, Jaime did reunite Maggie and Hopey though.

The complete Love and Rockets collection is too voluminous to describe in further detail. You'll find some notable works below to start your way.

1. "Poison River" - Gilbert's masterpiece chronicling the life of Luba and her family history. From a time of political instability in South America, to a hit TV show in the United States, Gilbert weaves a complex and often traumatic history of Luba's past that connects both countries and regions.

2. "Wig Wam Bam" - The young girls of Hoppers are all grown up and strike out on their own. God help them and anyone around them. Harrowing tales await Maggie and Hopey in this stirring drama.

3. "Death of Speedy" - Isabel Reubens' younger brother Speedy is the star of this tragic saga. Jaime's poignant tale of the troubled youth's eventual downfall is captured here with a tale consisting of broken hearts and gang life.

You'll find more recent stories from Love and Rockets page via Fantagraphics.

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