Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy 55th Birthday, Gilbert Hernandez!

Gilbert Hernandez, or Beto as he signs his work, is one of the pioneering Hernandez brothers who  have created the independent comics series Love and Rockets since 1982. Their landmark series (which inspired the name of the band) has been the standard for alternative comics in the US.

The series contains a number of different narratives and genres, from realistic stories about Latinos and rock bands to sci-fi tales of space aliens, professional wrestlers, and mechanics. Beto's stories are typically marked by a type of magical realism where fantasy and reality become indistinct. Many of his tales are set in the fictional locale of Palomar, a small Latin America town, and feature strong female protagonists. His most famous character is probably Luba, whom he follows from her childhood in Palomar to her dealings with gangsters and her relocation to the US.

Beto also has a focus on Luba's half-sister Fritz, who stars in multiple B movies. Many of his self-contained graphic novels, such as Chance in Hell and Love From the Shadows, are adaptations of the fictional movies she appears in.

In addition, Beto's love for low budget movies comes out in his project The Naked Cosmos, an eccentric television program about a strange prophet named Quintas.

One of comics most highly regarded creators, Beto has won multiple awards for his work over his career, including the InkPot Award in 1986, the Kirby Award in 1985, multiple Harvey Awards, and a 2009 Fellow Award from United States Artists.

Love and Rockets has gone through a few format changes over the years, and now is published as an annual volume. In addition to these volumes, Beto also publishes the occasional graphic novel such as Sloth.

A list of Hernandez's works is available at Fantagraphics Books (warning: some images are NSFW).

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