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SDCC ’12 | Exclusive first look at six new Love and Rockets 30th anniversary T-shirts

Love and Rockets is celebrating its 30th anniversary at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and to help fans mark the occasion in style, Fantagraphics partnered with Graphitti Designs to offer six new T-shirts featuring characters created by the legendary Hernandez Brothers. The shirts, which cost $18.99 each, can be found at the Fantagraphics booth (#1718-1722).

But wait, there’s more — Fantagraphics and the Hernandez Brothers also will debut three new books at the show. First up is the newest work by Gilbert and Jaime, Love & Rockets New Stories #5, featuring Gilbert’s return to Palomar and Jaime’s much-anticipated follow-up to “The Love Bunglers” (from #4). Also debuting is God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls, Jaime’s superhero epic combining material from Love and Rockets: New Stories #1 and #2 plus 30 all-new pages. Comic-Con also hails the release of Gilbert’s children-focused graphic novel,The Adventures of Venus, which we recently previewed on Robot 6. You can also expect a Love and Rockets-related announcement Saturday at the “30th Anniversary of Love and Rockets” panel.

Check out the shirts and the full press release below.

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Previews: What Looks Good for August

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.

Wait a minute … “monthly”?

It’s true that we haven’t taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we’ve invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we’re most looking forward to. What we’ll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Love and Rockets: New Stories, Number 5

Chris Mautner

1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) — How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was “The Love Bunglers”? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious “Frogmouth” character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a “must own” for me.

2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) — Percy Crosby’s Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW’s effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that — the few snippets I’ve read suggest this is real lost gem.

3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) — Tom Kaczynski’s small-press publishing company drops its first major, “big book” release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.

4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) — I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I’m including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe’s Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.

5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) — Speaking of manga, here’s one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga’s attempt to bring the master’s saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist’s better adult stories, and I’m glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I’ll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the ’90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.

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What Are You Reading? with Marc Singer

Action Comics #5

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Our guest today is Marc Singer, author of the very excellent book, Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics, which is an excellent, excellent book that you should read if you’re at all interested in Morrison and his work.

To find out what Singer and other members of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, simply click on the link below.

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The annotated ‘Love Bunglers’

from "The Love Bunglers" (top) and "The Death of Speedy Ortiz" (bottom) by Jaime Hernandez, assembled by Ng Suat Tong

As readers of this site are no doubt aware (to say the least!), Jaime Hernandez’s contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, “The Love Bunglers,” magisterially ties together some 30 years of history for its leading players, Maggie Chascarillo and Ray Dominguez. Now, the Hooded Utilitarian’s Ng Suat Tong has shown us exactly how.

His annotations for “The Love Bunglers” take the story’s many flashback panels, including all the scenes from the story’s centerpiece two-page spread, and place them side by side with the original scenes to which they’re flashing back, some of which were first published literally decades ago. It’s stunning to see how Jaime reinterpreted and re-interpolated his previous work– hifting our POV from one angle to another, showing moments that took place between the moments he depicted in the past, and of course re-drawing classic characters and scenes in his current style. Besides being a really useful post from a story perspective–surely everyone who read “The Love Bunglers” was hoping someone would do exactly this–as a demonstration of Jaime’s artistic intelligence and prowess, it’s tough to top. But then, so is “The Love Bunglers.”

You’ve come a long way, Jaime: or how I learned to stop worrying and love Love and Rockets

I just wanted to end Robot 6’s impromptu weeklong celebration of Jaime Hernandez and Love and Rockets by posting this portrait of “The Love Bunglers”‘ lead characters Ray and Maggie during their flaming youth. We knew them when.

But what if you didn’t know them when? What if this is your first real exposure to the worlds created by Jaime and his brother Gilbert? Jaime’s been writing his “Locas” saga — about a loose-knit group of (mostly) Latino/Latina men and women who (mostly) first met as teens in the Los Angeles punk scene — for thirty years now. Gilbert’s been chronicling his own group of characters — first the residents of the fictional Latin-American town of Palomar, then the family and friends of Palomar’s former mayor Luba, and now the on-screen and off-screen misadventures of Luba’s B-movie actress sister Fritz — for nearly as long. What if you’ve got no idea who these people are, or where you could possibly begin to learn?

That’s fine too.

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Warning: Jaime Hernandez may be hazardous to cartoonists’ work habits

I read [“The Love Bunglers”] one evening while sitting at my drawing table. When I finished it, I turned off the lights in my studio (spare bedroom), and decided to spend the evening hanging out with my wife. I knew I was done drawing for the day. It reaches emotional heights I rarely encounter when reading comics and was not prepared for.

Afrodisiac and Street Angel cartoonist Jim Rugg, himself no slouch in the comics department, on encountering Jaime Hernandez’s astonishing work in Love and Rockets: New Stories #4. Hmmm, Rugg left his drawing table, Adrian Tomine left a signing party…I really hope no cartoonists read this book while behind the controls of an airplane or something.

In all seriousness, times when a comic emotionally incapacitates you for however long are times to be treasured. Last night, in prepping for this post, I flipped through the book one more time, and came across pages that made me gasp and swoon. Hey, kids! Comics!

(Image by the great Alex Kropinak from text by yours truly)

Your Wednesday Sequence 29 | Jaime Hernandez

Love & Rockets: New Stories #4 (2011), page 89.  Jaime Hernandez.

I don’t think I’m advancing anything too controversial when I say that if there’s a Platonic ideal for the comic book page, it’s a piece of sequential art that works both as an assemblage of individual panels and as a single, unified artwork.  This, of course, is a lot easier said than done.  When gridded layouts are discarded to turn the page into a poster-style piece of op-art there’s always some readability being sacrificed, and the grid is all too often a vehicle for cartoonists to work inside without paying sufficient consideration to what sum their page’s parts are creating.

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Quote of the day #2 | Love and Rockets after death

I’ll freely confess that at the end of the new issue when I saw how Jaime had tied together the fates of Hopey, Maggie, and Ray I started crying like a baby. When I started burbling to Jaime about all this, he said that in working on his recent comics he was thinking that if he were hit by a bus tomorrow and killed he wanted to leave behind a story that would complete his life’s work. Having achieved that goal, the question now is what will Jaime do next.

The Comics Journal‘s Jeet Heer on his recent conversation with Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 co-author Jaime Hernandez concerning the thought process behind his magisterial story “The Love Bunglers.” The only thing more striking than the fact that Jaime set this career-defining hurdle for himself is that he freaking cleared it.

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Quote of the day | Bad comics are the disease. Jaime Hernandez is the cure.

…Hernandez’s comics are in many ways an antidote to all the things that drive comics fans nuts despite their seeming appetite for wallowing in such things for weeks, months, years on end. Sexism in comics is always worth fighting because sexism is pernicious and harmful and thus worth calling into question every time it’s encountered, but for many adult fans part of the solution really is to put down the terrible comic that enrages you and buy something like Love & Rockets: New Stories #4 for its fragile, sympathetic portraits of a wide range of human experiences.

Tom Spurgeon, in yet another excellent piece on Jaime Hernandez’s Maggie & Hopey masterpiece “The Love Bunglers” from Love and Rockets: New Stories #4.

There’s a sense one gets when issues involving lousy or ugly or offensive comics are discussed on the comics Internet that the superhero genre is the extent of the comics experience. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good in the sense that for most of the North American comics market, superheroes are if not the only game in town then at least the Super Bowl compared to the Pee-Wee League games being played by other kinds of comics, so the numbers necessitate a serious engagement with the genre’s problems and the problems of its publishers. And if you treat superhero comics as paramount, then your critiques of its practices gain in urgency, an urgency that’s probably required if those critiques are to be heard and responded to.

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Everybody’s talking about Jaime Hernandez and Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

Paying off thirty years of continuity and character development. Delivering shocks, gasps, cheers, and tears in equal measure, seemingly at the author’s whim. Offering a master class in everything from laying out a double-page spread to drawing clothes. Telling a story about beloved characters so emotionally engaging that even their most ardent fans wouldn’t mind if this were the last one ever told. Any way you slice it, Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers” — his contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and the conclusion to the already wildly acclaimed “The Love Bunglers”/”Browntown” suite from last year’s issue — is a hell of a comic. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Dan Nadel, editor of The Comics Journal, has posted his own appreciation, and invited cartoonists Frank Santoro (Storeyville) and Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve) to do the same. (SPOILER WARNINGS in effect at those links, folks.) Nadel (like Jordan Crane on the first part of Jaime’s tale in issue #3 before him) minces no words: “This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium.” Santoro calls Jaime “the greatest cartoonist of all time,” saying “No art moves me the way the work of Jaime Hernandez moves me.” Tomine talks of picking the issue up at a signing event for Jaime and being so moved by a two-page spread he encountered while randomly flipping through that he actually had to leave.

I posted my review at the beginning of August, after the book had started circulating at cons but long before it hit stores, but weeks and even months later people would still post comments on the review, like they’d been hungrily seeking out anything anyone had written about this remarkable comic. I’ve got a feeling that as more and more critics read this comic, they’ll never go hungry again.

Quote of the day | ¿Adios, Locas?

I love these people in the stories more than any other characters in all of fiction, and I wouldn’t mind if I never see them again….That’s how good The Love Bunglers is.

Bob Temuka on the remarkable work of Jaime Hernandez in Love and Rockets: New Stories #4. A continuation of the “Love Bunglers” suite of short stories that helped make last year’s issue one of CBR’s Best Comics of 2010, the issue sees the 30-year stories of Jaime’s “Locas” protagonists Maggie, Hopey, and Ray — all of whom have aged in real time as the series has progressed — come to what could quite easily be a conclusion, thrilling and upsetting and moving their many fans all at once. Temuka’s essay is filled with spoilers, so be warned, but it’s as good at conveying the unique nature of the “Locas” saga, the way its stories shift and grow and can be seen differently over time as we and Jaime and the characters all age and learn more about what happened, as well as any piece I’ve ever read.

(via Tom Spurgeon)

Food or Comics? | Brilliant, holy, super habibi

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Brilliant

Graeme McMillan

It is, thankfully, the last week of September which means that, if I had $15, I only have one more week of new launches from DC to pick out potential favorites, Sophie’s Choice-style. This week: Aquaman #1, Flash #1, Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men #1, Justice League Dark #1 and Superman #1 make the cut (All DC, all $2.99 each).

If I had the chance to add some more money to take that total to $30, I’d go for some Marvel books: Brian Michael Bendis gets well-represented with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 ($3.99); New Avengers #16.1 ($2.99), his “new readers jump on” issue with art by Neal Adams; and Brilliant #1 ($3.99), his new creator-owned book with Mark Bagley. Here’s hoping I’m in a suitably Bendis-y mood when I read all of these ones.

Splurgewise, it has to be Habibi (Pantheon, $35), Craig Thompson’s new graphic novel. I know a few people who’ve had a chance to read it already, and everyone has made it sound like a large leap ahead from Blankets, and something almost worth the many-year wait it’s been since his breakthrough last book. I’m really looking forward to this one.

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What Are You Reading? with special guest Janice Headley

Big Questions

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly column where we successfully answer the question in the title. Our special guest this week is Janice Headley, events coordinator, publicist and “ambassador of awesome” for Fantagraphics.

To see what Janice and the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, click the link below.

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SDCC ’11 | Jaime Hernandez on how the hell he’s going to top his last two Love and Rockets stories

The San Diego Comic-Con is the gift that keeps on giving, this time in the form of an interview with Love and Rockets co-creator Jaime Hernandez by CBR’s Kiel Phegley. Ask anyone who’s reading the series in its book-formatted New Stories incarnation — including this autumn’s #4, which picks up where last year’s massively acclaimed “Browntown”/”The Love Bunglers” storyline left off — and they’ll tell you: Jaime’s making some of the best work of his career, some 30 years after L&R made its debut. Unfortunately, that left him floundering when it came time to come up with a story for next year’s volume:

I almost blew my wad on these last two issues. I was so proud of it, and I wrapped up so many loose ends, and I was so proud of myself. And I said ‘Okay, now it’s time to do a new issue’…and I was blank. I swear, I was blank! I was actually looking out the window, looking for something, some kind of inspiration, you know? That happens to me once in a while, but this time — I mean, big! I was just wandering around, asking my wife, ‘Do you need me to go do something out in the back yard, or…?’ I just felt like the most useless human being. It’s what I always call the post-comic withdrawal, where after I’ve just gone BANG on one issue, after it’s done, I feel so useless. I need to do something, but it’s like nothing’s there. It always comes, but I can’t make it come. It’s an organic thing with me, where it comes when it comes. Luckily, it’s always come within the deadline.

Watch the entire fascinating interview, which reveals a lot about Jaime’s creative process and his desire to do comics outside his usual “Locas” world, above.

Six by 6 | Six great superhero comics by unlikely cartoonists

The Death Ray

Apart from all the “new 52″ brouhaha, one of the more interesting and talked about bits of online  was Michael Fiffe’s essay on the delineations between mainstream (i.e. superhero) comics and the alt/indie comics scene. Spinning off of his essay, I thought it would be fun to list my own favorite super-styled tales by folks who usually don’t do that type of material, some of which Fiffe talked about in his essay.

Note: For the purposes of this article I’m deliberately avoiding any of the officially sanctioned productions from the Big Two, namely Strange Tales and Bizarro Comics, just to make it a wee bit harder.

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