Friday, April 15, 2011

Chance in Hell

The proverbial snowball whose chance in hell is referred to in the title is named Empress. She is a young girl when the story begins, living in a dump where chaos and might rule, where children rape and are raped, and where little hope remains. She is rescued from this situation by a kind benefactor who came from there himself. This man, a poetry editor, raises and cares for Empress. As she grows older, she rebels, makes friends with a pimp, eventually marries, and begins her own life in the city, with a man who knows nothing about the dump. However, she constantly remembers...

Chance in Hell is the work of Gilbert Hernandez, who is renowned for his decades-long work on Love and Rockets and his own graphic novels such as Sloth. He is a recognized master in the graphic novel field, drawing beautiful pictures while also crafting very human, surreal, and evocative narratives. This graphic novel is, in part, an extension of his Love and Rockets work, as it portrays a fictional movie that one of his characters, Fritzi, who appears in the background as a prostitute, starred in during her career.

Hernandez's career has been marked with great praise, and this volume has received its fair share. Reviewer Joe McCulloch called it a "fine comic" that is challenging, interesting, and something to wrestle with. Matt Brady wrote that it is based on mood and feeling, full of "haunting imagery" that lingers. Offering a slightly contrary opinion, Andrew Wheeler found the book to be a beautiful but "interesting failure" that lacks sufficient characterization.

More information about the book, including a couple previews, is available here from its publisher Fantagraphic Books.

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