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Author Topic: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.  (Read 1933 times)

Tombo

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Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« on: 18 August, 2012, 09:54:13 pm »
I've been aware (to a small degree) of the Love and Rockets series for many years now - Mr Goggans has mentioned it on his book blog a few times and I've seen them in Forbidden Planet.  According to Wikipedia the series is been reprinted in neat little omnibus editions, so the question is - Is it worth me getting it?

Is the writing as good as they say, are the storylines gripping, funny, moving, whatever?

I'm open minded about most (none super-hero) comics and GN series although I am biased towards sci-fi and fantasy stuff.

radiator

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #1 on: 18 August, 2012, 10:06:42 pm »
Only one way to be sure - buy the first book, if it's not for you, sell it on eBay.

I did this with a few acclaimed series that didn't connect with me for whatever reason.

Grant Goggans

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #2 on: 19 August, 2012, 02:05:05 am »
The fun thing about L&R is that it's set in a weird SF world, but the superheroics are always taking place somewhere else.  One of the ongoing subplots in Jaime's stories concerns a multibillionaire named HR Costigan, who has strange "devil horns" above his eyes, and his gorgeous, bombshell wife, Penny Century, who married him for the promise that he would use his billions to give her super powers.  And Gilbert's stories, on the other hand, are very much magical realism, with ghosts and strange supernatural events.

For the uninitiated, Love & Rockets is an anthology series that is home to a pair of gigantic, sprawling serials as well as occasional one-offs not connected to either.  The stories by Jaime Hernandez, referred to frequently as "Locas," center around Maggie Chascarillo, who was a teenage punker and a spectacular mechanic but is now settling into middle age as the manager of an efficiency apartment complex, and her best friend and occasional lover, "Hopey" Glass, who was once the bassist for a punk band and these days is a preschool teacher.  Their friends include gangbangers and witches, and the early stories are best played with a soundtrack of X and Black Flag.

Gilbert Hernandez's stories center around a very strange town called Palomar in some unnamed Central American country.  (Honduras or Panama, possibly.)  It's a multigenerational saga centered around the town's mayor and matriarch, Luba, and her many children.  Luba disowns her oldest daughter, who moves to Los Angeles and opens the series up to even more characters, including Luba's two half-sisters, who have lived in the United States for years.

Like Doonesbury and LSH, two other series that I love absolutely, the series have simply enormous casts and lots of tangled relationships among them.  It's very uncommon for the writer to step in and help you out with backstory, so it is very easy to get confused, but so very worth it.  The only books that I buy anymore are 2000 AD and L&R.

It's worth noting that they are quite frank about sex and nudity, and Gilbert's fetishes get downright weird in places.  Since ending Palomar, he's mostly been spinning his wheels and turning into Russ Meyers, of whom he is a great admirer.  Gilbert hasn't drawn a good comic in three or four years, honestly, while Jaime's "Love Bunglers" story (told across two issues of the now-annual L&R in 2010 and 2011) is completely astonishing.  One of Luba's half-sisters is a B-movie actress, and most of Gilbert's comics these days are - if you can wrap your brain around this - comic adaptations of the exploitation/grindhouse films in which she has starred.  Gilbert's most out-there comic was "Birdland," a 4 issue series from the early 90s which I think actually introduced some of the Palomar supporting players.  It was published by Fantagraphics' old pornographic imprint Eros, which should give you some clue as to its content.  Mercifully, it is not part of the continuity, but a very tenuous footnote!

The series of omnibus books (each about 300 pages) are not numbered, but Jaime's stories are in the five volumes: Maggie the Mechanic, The Girl from HOPPERS, Perla la Loca, Penny Century, and Esperanza.  Gilbert's are in three: Heartbreak Soup, Human Diastrophism, and Beyond Palomar.  A ninth book, Amor y Cohetes, collects stories that they, or their brother Mario, have done for the series but are not part of their ongoing continuities.  There should be a tenth to bring Gilbert's stories up to date; he's done a hell of a lot with the characters that have been collected in different editions....

That's actually the only big bugbear with the series; it's been collected very haphazardly by Fantagraphics, with lots of editions superceding each other, and the presence of a separate series of books by Titan (designed by Rian Hughes) doesn't make things easier.  There is a series of tall trade paperbacks - books 1-15 are numbered and designed uniformly (with numbers on the spine) by Marc Arsenault, and the numbering continues into ten more books, designed by different people, and none of *these* (#16-25) have spine numbering.

While the omnibus versions are your best bet, *almost* any of these are fine starting points, but I would avoid Whoa Nellie! or Hernandez Satyricon as starters.  Poison River, on the other hand (#12) was my first L&R and I was sold for life, despite coming in so late to the series.

Frank

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #3 on: 19 August, 2012, 08:10:50 am »
Goggans, you're a treasure and an asset to this forum.

Tombo

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #4 on: 19 August, 2012, 09:06:59 am »
Thanks guys.  I'd probably buy the first book anyway, but sometimes the first volume in a series ends up been the weakest so I guess I really just wanted peoples opinions on the series.  I reckon I'll pick up the first of the more recent omnibus editions from Amazon next payday and give them a go.  Thanks again.

TordelBack

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #5 on: 19 August, 2012, 05:25:37 pm »
I'm an awe of Goggans' post, and can't disagree with a word of it. 

One of the nice things about L&R is that you can shift between the Locas and Palomar stories if you find the tone or direction of one or the other starting to wear (which they very occasionally do).  Both have sustained periods of transcendental brilliance that grow out of seemingly throwaway episodes, and there's no predicting when these will occur.  Close attention is always repaid, and the more you read the more you get out. 

Short version: L&R is as good as comics get.

gdwessel

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #6 on: 20 August, 2012, 05:07:33 am »
I have a confession to make: I've never read L&R beyond a few shorts here and there.

So.

If I wanted to give it a spin, where should I go first?


TordelBack

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #7 on: 20 August, 2012, 08:42:08 am »
If I wanted to give it a spin, where should I go first?

Simplest answer: 

The two currentish Fantagraphics/Titan omnibuses offer the best value: 

Maggie the Mechanic, for Jamie H's initially cutesy bisexual SF-dressed adventures that gradually lure you into something deeper and more affecting (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Rockets-Maggie-Mechanic-v/dp/1845765206).  This is the first of the Maggie/Hopey/Locas series.

Heartbreak Soup, for Gilbert H's Central American magical realism, which uses really huge boobs and generational stories to say some big things about life in a fascinating way (http://www.abebooks.com/Love-Rockets-Heartbreak-Soup-Hernandez-Gilbert/2467606862/bd).   This is the first of the Luba/Palomar series.

Which you prefer will lead you first down one path or the other, but eventually you'll probably end up reading them all.  Given my reading of your own work, I'd say you'll love both of them.
« Last Edit: 20 August, 2012, 08:44:30 am by TordelBack »

Grant Goggans

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #8 on: 20 August, 2012, 11:13:06 am »
I'd add that the reason I say that anyplace is a good starting place for L&R is that much of both series is revealed in flashback, or two characters telling each other stories about what was going on with a third, or, most stunningly, in a side story in the 2011 issue, showing an old event from a different perspective and explaining through the way events played out for the other parties why characters left the narrative.  Both Jaime and Gilbert do really impressive things with the flow of time - there's an amazing and heart wrenching sequence toward the end of Luba's story where we're following a character with AIDS like that - and so it doesn't really matter where you start.  You will always be learning new information about the characters' past.

That, and Jaime really overwrites the hell out of the first 2/3 of the material in Maggie the Mechanic.  It takes him a while to find his groove, but almost all of that material becomes critical in time.

Tombo

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #9 on: 24 August, 2012, 08:10:38 pm »
Checking my bank balance I find my self in a better monetary position than I expected.  As a result I have ordered a copy of Maggie the Mechanic from Amazon.  I'm warning you though, Goggans, if it isnt the greatest story ever I'm going to swim the Atlantic, find your home and desecrate your shrine to Samatha Slade, just so you know  :P

Grant Goggans

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #10 on: 24 August, 2012, 08:50:10 pm »
It isn't.

That comes later.

TordelBack

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #11 on: 24 August, 2012, 09:27:28 pm »
Ah, I dunno.  There's that scene quite early on where Rena is pounding across the desert that is a contender for one of the best short sequences in the whole thing.  I just love it.

Dandontdare

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #12 on: 24 August, 2012, 09:49:19 pm »
If I wanted to give it a spin, where should I go first?

Simplest answer: 

The two currentish Fantagraphics/Titan omnibuses offer the best value: 

Maggie the Mechanic, for Jamie H's initially cutesy bisexual SF-dressed adventures that gradually lure you into something deeper and more affecting (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Rockets-Maggie-Mechanic-v/dp/1845765206).  This is the first of the Maggie/Hopey/Locas series.

Heartbreak Soup, for Gilbert H's Central American magical realism, which uses really huge boobs and generational stories to say some big things about life in a fascinating way (http://www.abebooks.com/Love-Rockets-Heartbreak-Soup-Hernandez-Gilbert/2467606862/bd).   This is the first of the Luba/Palomar series.

Which you prefer will lead you first down one path or the other, but eventually you'll probably end up reading them all.  Given my reading of your own work, I'd say you'll love both of them.

You had me at 'huge boobs'.

Grant Goggans

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #13 on: 24 August, 2012, 10:09:54 pm »
Ah, I dunno.  There's that scene quite early on where Rena is pounding across the desert that is a contender for one of the best short sequences in the whole thing.  I just love it.

Trying to catch that horse?  Good one.

I really like Julie Wree, after Maggie gets home, dressed like Madonna and making fun of the punkers.  That is every suburb in America, c. 1985, and my high school, perfectly in two panels.

It's fantastic, but all the really transcendent stuff comes in the next two books.

TordelBack

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Re: Love & Rockets - is it worth it.
« Reply #14 on: 25 August, 2012, 08:44:32 am »
You had me at 'huge boobs'.

So often the way.