Monday, June 30, 2008


I recently finished Jaime Hernandez's Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories, another massive compilation (about 700 pages). These stories were first printed, of course, in the Love and Rockets comics (the first actual comics, I gather, actually published by Fantagraphics). Though not containing every one of the stories in this strand of the Love and Rockets series, Locas does trace a kind of narrative arc, from the first story to introduce Maggie "the Mechanic" to a moment of long-delayed and crucial reconciliation between the two protagonists.

Hernandez's black-and-white drawings are sharp and often beautiful, but not above invoking the conventional perspectives of the masculine gaze, which presumably operates at times for both artist and (implied) reader. Even so, Maggie, over the years covered by both the narrative and the run of Love and Rockets from which these stories were drawn, grows more or less steadily chunkier, which certainly has the effect of making her seem increasingly like a real, rounded character (pun intended, I suppose).

Relatedly, it seems, the world that Maggie and Hopey inhabit also seems to have evolved over the years, as Maggie, in the first story is a rocket-ship mechanic working in an African jungle setting populated by (among other things) still-living dinosaurs. As the series progresses, however, the "rockets" element of the narrative gets progressively downplayed, and the often-interrupted love/friendship story of Maggie and Hopey is focused on more and more completely. (Although the fantastic elements of their world never disappear entirely: H R Costigan, the millionaire husband of Penny Century, is always drawn with the horns he wears in the early episodes.) One suspects that reading these comics over a ten- or twenty-year span, as they were published, would make these shifts of narrative focus less striking, but for me as a reader new to the series, it seemed to work in Locas as a book--not only as an artifact of the story arc's own history, but precisely as a thematized shift from "rockets" to "love," one that makes the reader go back and reconsider the relation between the two terms of that binary even in the earliest episodes.

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