Love and Rockets
August 10, 2012 7:41 PM   Subscribe

In September, Los Bros Hernandez will tour the Northeast to observe the 30th anniversary of their epochal indie comic book series Love and Rockets.
In the early 1980s, Love and Rockets was one of the seminal titles... in shaping the sensibilities of the nascent indie scene. Their influence since then has been enormous, both in the indie world and the mainstream.... Their jump-cut style, which forces the reader to connect the narrative dots beetween the panels, their blend of genres (science fiction, realism, romance), their use of magical realism all helped show that not only could comic be serious literature, but how to achieve such a goal.

Beyond that though, both Gilbert and Jaime are incredibly gifted storytellers — giants in the field really — able to create emotionally powerful, complex tales populated with unique but relatable characters. By this point, they’ve easily earned seats in the upper pantheon, next to folks like Carl Barks and Will Eisner.
Suggestions on how to approach the vast L&R-verse can be found there, as well as here, here, and here - not to mention the official guide at Fantagraphics Books.
posted by Egg Shen (19 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
This tour is breaking my heart, because I have to go to a wedding on the only dates I could drive to. Which may not seem like a big deal, but I'm such a Jaime Hernandez superfan that I actually have a tattoo of Maggie on my shoulder. So I urge everyone to go check the tour out and read some Love and Rockets!
posted by leesh at 7:47 PM on August 10, 2012

After many, many attempts, I finally managed to show up at their booth at Comic Con this year while they were there, signing. I've been a fan of L&R since the late 80's, and once I finally got to meet them and thank them, I pretty much wizzed it down my leg, and couldn't think of anything interesting to say other than "thank you."

They were nice enough about it, but the encounter was decidedly anticlimactic. Possibly a case of the work itself being much more meaningful (to me) than the creators.

I guess it would have been different if I could meet Maggie and Hopey.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:53 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, man, the best ever.

I rarely do costumes, but I had the most fun dressing up as Penny Century.

Also learned what a pupusa was from a Luba story.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:14 PM on August 10, 2012

Has it really been 30 years? Man alive.
posted by jquinby at 8:15 PM on August 10, 2012

Man I'm old.

Here's Ben Nichols of Lucero doing an acoustic version of the band's "The Devil And Maggie Chascarillo", just for fun.
posted by padraigin at 8:26 PM on August 10, 2012

Love and Rockets taught me that there was a world beyond superhero comics out there. I couldn't quite get the concept, being a Marvel-guy all the way until college, and when I discovered them, I kind of opened up to a whole new world of other indie things like music an performance art and...oh, it was just such an influence on me.

30 years? It can't possibly be.
posted by xingcat at 8:29 PM on August 10, 2012

I've been hungrily devouring all the comix my library could deliver to me for the past eight years, and I still haven't made a significant dent in the genre. Only two weeks ago did I finally check the "Locas" anthology out. Despite having run into tons of other Hernandez Bros stuff in this or that anthology, I never had read Love and Rockets! I have yet to meet Maggie and Hopey.

(I have to finish Tatsumi's The Push Man first. Locas is next in the pile.)
posted by not_on_display at 8:51 PM on August 10, 2012

If you're reading "Locas" you will most assuredly meet Maggie and Hopey.

I'm going strictly by memory here, but basically the first few issues of L&R were more or less self-published, and were WAY different from the ensuing anthology. The series began as much more futuristic (hence the rockets) with things like space travel and dinosaurs, but once it got picked up by Fantagraphics, it rather quickly settled in to a more "down to earth" series about punk life in L.A. (and village life in Mexico, as told through 2 time periods, about 20 years apart)

I initially tended to gloss over Gilbert's stories (the "Palomar" stories), feeling that they weren't for me. But once I finally started paying attention to something other than Luba's ridiculously huge breasts, I found some great storylines in there. Still, the "Hoppers" storylines with Maggie and Hopey will always be my favorites.

But yeah, be prepared for some MAJOR shifts in storylines/settings after the first few chapters.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:05 PM on August 10, 2012

AHH!!! The coolest stuff is always in DC or Bethesda or some other part of Maryland - out of the 5 cities they're touring, Baltimore is one of them!!!
posted by facehugger at 9:30 PM on August 10, 2012

Wow. I was about 15 when some remaindered L&R collections first caught my eye/scant allowance, and even then, I was about as old as L&R. Now we are both 30.
It's funny, I always used to get evangelical about how these comics got me into punk rock. For the right audience, this was always a huge testament to the possibilities inherent in the comics medium, but now that both rock and roll and the American comic book have been defined for more than half of their respective histories by their own entrenched oppositions (punk, hardcore, underground, indie, etc.), this feels like an increasingly toothless sentiment, like "this is the slide-rule that got me into ragtime," or "this particular series of petroglyphs is what really turned me on to madrigals."
posted by Rustmouth Snakedrill at 11:31 PM on August 10, 2012

Shutterbun i had a similar experience at last year's comic con.

it wasn't so much anti-climactic, as ...odd. they were sitting by themselves at the signing table for a long time. i had NO money to buy anything - a friend gave me a free ticket for the day and i went to see the scene because i hadn't been to the con since the 90s. i sorta felt bad not being able to show my support by actually buying something. even so, i just had to go up and thank them. i tried not to gush, and i do hope i managed to convey how totally great i think their work is, and how i feel like i don't need to write about or try to recapture my punk rock youth, because they already got it so right with the love & rockets universe.

they said thanks, and we all looked at each other for a few moments, smiling awkwardly. and then ... that was it. i walked away. nobody else came over to talk with them for another long while. i was sort of shocked - i was geeking pretty seriously (as in: wow! OMG! i just talked to the HERNANDEZ BROS!!!! why aren't they being MOBBED???), so i hope their booth got really busy after i left.

i recently introduced a friend to their work. she's a 20-something awesome punk girl artist. i explained that, no - the band is named after the books, not the other way around, etc. and am really looking forward to sharing in the delight, as she discovers Maggie and Hopey and the magic of the stories. there are so many! and all so good!
posted by lapolla at 11:53 PM on August 10, 2012

Sounds about right. I only had to wait about 5 minutes to see them (what the hell? the 2nd unit director of some new Fox show that hasn't even aired yet has a 45 minute line to meet him!) and Jaime even had a sign for prices on drawings:

Really fast drawing : FREE
Nice drawing: $20
Really nice drawing: $40

I have both a mental and monetary aversion to paying for drawings, but "FREE"? So, I could just walk up and ask him to draw me a 30 second Hopey portrait for free? Impossible. Granted, I had probably bought a hundred dollars worth of his comics over the years, it just felt wrong to walk up to a revered artist, empty handed, and request him to draw something for me, on the spot.

I couldn't even bring myself to ask. Just a "Thank you, your comics brought me a lot of enjoyment through some tough times," a nod and I was on my way.

Love and Rockets is perhaps a case where the books "feel" special for everyone who reads them. They were never super popular, and everyone who read it likely felt that "they were the only one who 'got it'". Then you meet Los Bros. at a convention, and you become one of about 1,000 people that day who are convinced "they are the only ones who got it", while Gilbert and Jaime have to be polite to each of them. I had no amazing story to tell, which somehow connected me with the characters. It was just a book I really liked to read.

On the other hand, I do recall briefly trying to engage Jaime on the point that I had really gotten into the storyline at the point when Maggie had begun to put on weight (which was a fairly major theme for a year or so in the early 90s) and he was pretty nonchalant about it. I must confess I got a pretty strong vibe of "I don't really know what to say, either" from him. Possibly that's why he tends to let his writing/art do the talking.

Still can't shake the feeling that I somehow "failed them as a fan," though. Kind of a bummer.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:27 AM on August 11, 2012

I'm planning on seeing them in Brooklyn, as I'll be back in NYC by then. Quite excited, and have never seen them before.

And those of you feeling like fan failures, at least you're not the guy I knew back in the 80s who met Jaime and the first words out of his mouth were, "So, is Hopey a dyke?"
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:31 AM on August 11, 2012

That at least puts me at notch 1.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:00 AM on August 11, 2012

DAMMIT! Nothing closer to Boston than Brooklyn? Bummer.

Man, I loved L&R. Such good stuff.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:21 AM on August 11, 2012

Love & Rockets for me was more like being invited into some secret club that only a few people knew about. I was introduced to them in the late 80s by a comic shop owner who pressed a copy of the "Music for Mechanics" collection into my hands and said, "You're gonna love this. Trust me!" And the next day I ran out and got everything else I could find. It was one of those books that, whenever you took one up to the counter, the guy would be like, "Oh man, I LOVE these guys!" and you'd just have to nod and go "Yeahhhh." But none of my friends or any comics fans I met read (or even heard of) it. Of course, this was before I got on the Internet -- I may have been one of thousands around the world, but I was one of maybe a dozen in my town, so it was very much a lonely, solitary sort of fandom.

The Death of Speedy is the first time I ever cried reading a comic. Damn.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 5:52 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm finding this secret club thing weird. I was reading L&R back in the mid to late 80s while I was in junior high and high school. All my comic reading friends were into them big-time as well, including my less than subtle friend mentioned above.

I will admit being turned on to L&R by one of the dudes at Dave's Comics in Ann Arbor, but it was only a matter of time, really. It was certainly a welcome relief from the onslaught of crappy TMNT clones that were coming out at the time I started reading L&R (around issue 18 or so, I think). That was also right about when Flaming Carrot came out. Good times.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:21 AM on August 11, 2012

♥ Maggie Chascarrillo ♥
posted by Catch at 5:10 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

30th anniversary?!? That would mean that their 10th anniversary tour was (counts on fingers . . . takes off shoes . . . counts on toes) . . . er, really long ago. 10 years seemed like a really long time back then. Glad Los Bros took my advice to keep on keepin' on.
posted by whuppy at 1:20 PM on August 13, 2012

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