Friday, 20 February 2009

Livin' La Vida Las Locos: Love and Rockets

While I breezed through the latest Walking Dead collection in no time (probably in part due to the proliferation of wordless pages and double page spreads---feels like Kirkman's doing a Bendis on this one), it's taken me quite some time to get through the first Jaime Hernandez Love and Rockets collection, and I'm still undecided about it.

The art is variable to start with as Hernandez finds his way, with some stuff being very clean and others having a lot of hatching but it's always great. I can clearly see the Ditko influence at times but generally the clean lines are really effective and it's amazing how he can get so much achieved with so few lines (his women are gorgeous as they are delineated with such graceful lines). However, the lettering in particular is a give away about when a strip may have been originally produced: as these first ran in the anthology Love and Rockets title, I'm assuming any number of strips could run concurrently but have been collected here chronologically. This makes the series much better as a reading experience but the erratic artwork (which is presumably frequently flicking back and forth between times of creation) is a bit disconcerting.

Hernandez' panel compositions are superb and I love the look of this but I also found myself scratching my head at the concept behind the series. It starts off with rocket ships, robots, superheroes, dinosaurs and luchadors but frequently flicks back to the realistic tales of series stars Maggie and Hopey in their Hispanic Californian suburb. At first I couldn't make out if the fantasy stuff was real (I think it was), a fantasy, a dream or what but by the end of the first collection, it has largely settled down to focus on the character-based stuff instead of the fantasy stuff.

I have the next two collections to get through yet and they look more promising: the art is more confident and the direction of the series is more confident so I'm hoping these will engage me more. If I enjoy these, I may track down the Penny Century spin off but doubt I'll go near the female wrestling mini Whoa, Nelly as that's a premise that doesn't appeal to me whatsoever.

While reading this, the art reminded me of Terry Wiley's work on Sleaze Castle and I wondered if Hernandez was a significant influence or it's a coincidental similarity? Anyway, I'll sign off by posting a Hernandez pic of the Legion of Super Heroes' Phantom Girl, from the original Who's Who maxi series. It's rare for Hernandez to go near the mainstream so this is an indication of how attractive his art would be on such a series (as well as how similar it is to Steve Rude's comic figure work).


Tone said...

Hernandez made it up as he went, originally just drawing whatever cool stuff took his fancy, ie girls, sci-fi and superheroes before settling on more down to earth slice of life. The latter books are all love and no rockets. I think Locas looks a lot better than it reads, but you can't help like Maggie & Hopey.

For a moment there I thought you'd drawn a tribute to Marie Osmond...

Nige Lowrey said...

I breezed through the second and third collections in the time it took me to finish the first, so I found those much better. I don't think I'd be interested in the rumoured film version though: most of the charm for me is in art(and for a title famously about Maggieand Hopey, they spend as much time separated as together!)but while the stories are great and the characters engaging, there's not really much meat to base a finite movie on.

The second book has a scene basically dismissing most of the first collection as a comic but the continued appearance of characters such as Rena and Rand Race still blurs the issue, as does the fact that the comic features Maggie and Hopey as leads.

Legion of Super Mormons?