Books

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jaime Hernandez's Locas


By Leroy Douresseaux
October 5, 2005 - 17:47

locas.jpg

LOCAS: THE MAGGIE & HOPEY STORIES

With Southern California’s burgeoning punk rock scene in the early 1980’s as the backdrop, a group of Mexican-American women begin their coming-of-age journey.

In 1981, three brothers: Mario, Gilbert, and Jaime Hernandez began self-publishing their comic book, Love & Rockets. Soon afterwards, up and coming alternative publisher Fantagraphics Books became L&R’s publisher, and it wasn’t long before Love & Rockets captured the imagination of the still-young direct sales market, also earning rave reviews from comic book luminaries such as the late Will Eisner and Alan Moore and from periodicals such as The Village Voice, The Times of London, and The Washington Post.

Eventually Mario would drop out (for the most part), and Love & Rockets would become the domain of Gilbert and Jaime, as each artist contributed solo work for the book. Recently, Fantagraphics divided many of cartoonists,’ (known to fans as Los Bros.) various short stories and pieces that were related by characters, themes, and setting into two huge graphic novels: Gilbert’s Palomar (published in 2003) and Jaime’s LOCAS (published in 2004).

Locas has as its lead a young Mexican-American woman, Maggie Chascarrillo, a bisexual struggling to define who and what she was (and is, as Maggie’s story continues in L&R, Vol. 2). Maggie’s drama took place in her hometown (Hoppers) and other communities, each locale beset by issues of class, race, and gender. Hopey Glass, the feisty anti-authoritarian punkette who in many ways became L&R’s signature character (and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks Hopey was the model for “Tank Girl”), is Maggie’s dearest friend, sometimes lover, and a constant presence in Maggie’s life. Over the course of 50 issues of L&R (Vol. 1, 1981-1996), Jaime Hernandez chronicled the adventures of Maggie and Hopey. LOCAS: THE MAGGIE AND HOPEY STORIES collects all those tales. Not only do we get to watch Maggie grow from an angry young punk into a mature woman and experience both the beauty and cruelty of life, but we also get to sample the punk movement through the eyes of a Latino. Locas was also a natural depiction of barrio life, different from the ghetto version we usual see in films and on TV.

For some of us, watching Jaime grow as an artist was as important as reading about Maggie and friends. Love & Rockets began with Jaime being something like an accomplished artist. Perhaps, here and there, he seemed too determined to balance light and dark, cold and warm, and forward and receding spaces, but his drawings had an uncanny sense of texture. In time, he learned to balance white and black spaces with a huge sense of openness the captures the essence of our living world. He mastered body language and facial expressions, and his art ably portrayed the grandness and the smallness of human feelings, as well as the pettiness and occasional importance of our trivias and odds and ends.

October 2005 marks the one year anniversary of LOCAS’ original publication date, so as Marvel and DC Comics once again mire the Direct Market in crossover events and pathetic marketing campaigns for junk comics, I thought I’d remind everyone who didn’t get this book but who is familiar with L&R that Locas is a must-have. Fans of comics as fiction will find $49.95 to be a bargain for this well-designed and produced volume.

For everyone else: you may not often see Jaime working outside the confines of L&R or Fantagraphics, but it’s not because Marvel and DC don’t want him. Believe me, I know editors have asked for this amazing cartoonist to do work-for-hire for them, so that his art might grace their comics. Here, is a chance to know what they know.

NOTE: Both Jaime’s LOCAS and Gilbert Hernandez’s PALOMAR ($39.95) are available directly from the publisher, Fantagraphics Books.

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Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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