LOCAS 2/LOVE AND ROCKETS NEW STORIES 2
Written and Drawn by Los Bros Hernandez
Published by Fantagraphics
The first volume of LOCAS was a massive 712-page tome collecting decades worth of Maggie and Hopey stories together under one cover. But you can’t keep a good pair of on-and-off again friends and lovers away for too long, so now we get LOCAS 2, another 418 pages of graphic brilliance from the mind of Jaime Hernandez.
This second volume presents a more “mature” Maggie and Hopey moving through their lives (or as mature as Hopey can get). Maggie goes through a divorce; Hopey nearly loses an eye. Maggie takes a mentally ill friend into her home to try and save her; Hopey ultimately finds a career path. Maggie deals with confusion about what her heart wants; Hopey continues to be unable to spell “fidelity”, let alone practice it with anyone she cares about. It’s all classic Hernandez material, but this volume’s key element that really makes the book sing louder than ever is the amount of focus placed upon Ray Dominguez.
Both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have created a plethora of intensely fascinating female characters throughout the history of LOVE AND ROCKETS. But Ray is really the first relatable, interesting male character that either of the brothers has really ever created. He’s a decent guy, someone that wants more out of his life. He’s prone to obsession, and even when he knows that someone will likely wreck his life, he cannot stop himself from putting his heart on the line. Some of the richest material Jaime has ever produced focuses on Ray’s pursuit of Vivian, a former stripper and wannabe actress that leaves nothing but pain and suffering in her wake. She vacillates between paying him attention to ignoring him to trying to fuck him blind. But just as it seems like he might get a clue or some self-esteem, he finds out the ultimate fact about her: she used to be involved with Maggie. And Ray has never stopped loving Maggie. Even though she stopped caring about him a long, long time ago. The collision of those two “worlds” isn’t far off, as you might imagine.
There’s so much good stuff in LOCAS 2, though, that I could talk about it until my fingers bleed. Instead, I’ll just mention one of my favorite things to do when poring over Jaime’s art. That would be to play “spot the influence.” Turning these pages, you can see Charles Schulz, John Romita, Jack Kirby… but what impresses about that is that Hernandez didn’t stick to aping the kind of stories those men did. Instead, he used what he learned from them to create his own richly textured and detailed world. LOCAS stands alone. I highly recommend you read it and see why.
Adding to the fun, Jaime and Gilbert now release in serial format LOVE AND ROCKETS as an annual. NEW STORIES #2 hits stores in late October and features two new stories from Gilbert and the concluding 50 pages of Jaime’s “Ti-girls” story from #1. The star here is Gilbert’s “Sad Girl”, the story of Killer, a teen actress with a broken heart. Artistically, his “Hypnotwist” is more vividly observed, but the nonsensical aspect of it grates after a while. On the flip side, “Ti-Girls” looks really spiffy as it races towards a conclusion, but it’s so completely off-the-wall that I stopped being able to follow it about two-thirds of the way through it. Still, even Hernandez material that doesn’t work is worth a look, if only to immerse yourself into the storytelling craft beneath it all.