Locas II : Maggie, Hopey & Ray
Love & Rockets
Fantagraphics (September, 2009)
I have a lot of friends who love comics, collect comics, even write about comics and who have never read a single issue of Love & Rockets. It’s a brutally shocking omission - imagine being an aficionado of Westerns and never having seen a John Ford film, or blogging about manga without having ever cracked a single Osamu Tezuka volume - unthinkable, right?
Love&Rockets represents probably the greatest American work produced within the comics medium ever, but it’s kryptonite to the uninitiated. The most common concern I hear from folks is that there’s so much of it, and I dig - there are literally thirty years of stories which build upon an internal continuity in two distinct storylines from individual authors collected under a single volume, plus ancillary stories which are thematically united but independent from the core storylines, AND both books happily dabble in magical realism, introducing the absurd and unnatural in equal measures with the quotidian and the narrative.
BUT trust me, no one expects you to absorb all of that on page one; you just pick a story and start reading - there are excellent guides out there, like Fantagraphics’ “How To Read L&R”, but I honestly feel you could pick up any volume and immerse yourself in that particular arc right from the git-go, the stories are just that appealing.
And then? Then you’ll have literally thousands of pages of more comics to enjoy. It’ll be like finding an album that blows your mind and then discovering the musician who recorded it produced fifty more, each improvising on its core themes in a new and exciting way…
Love&Rockets is a comic you owe yourself, particularly if you’ve ever waxed philosophic or raged online about indy titles, creator ownership, auteurship, literate comics for grown-ups, breaking the corporate mold, comics not dependent on franchise, varied and deep depictions of women, strong female characters, representation of the female form, questions of race and identity in comics, gender and sexuality, comics driven on character and relationships rather than spectacle - that’s all in here, and more.
There’s more I can tell you to prepare you or try to sway you - the differences in Beto’s and Jaime’s storytelling, the premises of Hoppers and Palomar, where Birdland fits into the whole shmear - or in the best case scenario you can just discover it for yourself…