Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday 53rd Birthday, Jaime Hernandez!

Jaime Hernandez grew up in a house full of comic books. He read all kinds, from Dennis to Menace to monster stories to Archie to Uncle Scrooge to superheroes. This disparate array of comics shows up in his work, from his stylized, deceivingly easy, impeccable art to his range of storytelling. He and his brothers drew all kinds of comics, and today he is a creator well known for making his mark in the independent comics scene with the long-running and acclaimed series Love and Rockets he co-produces with his brother Gilbert

Love and Rockets has been coming out since 1982 and 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. Today the series continues not as a bimonthly series of pamphlets but as an annual volume that is more substantial.

Many of Jaime's stories have focused on a group he called Locas. They are a bunch of women, most of whom are Latinas, who live in California, are in bands or go to a lot of shows, deal with gangs and other urban issues, and also deal with relationship issues. The main character he follows is Maggie, a woman who has been a mechanic but who sometimes has a lack of drive or focus. She has a long history of tumultuous relationships, both with her friend Hopey and also with Ray. These stories are updated, revamped, and more realized Archie stories, set in an adult world where there are no easy answers or completely stock characters.

Considered a master by many, Jaime has won the Inkpot, Kirby, and multiple Harvey Awards for his work. He is not simply a great artist but also is capable of great emotional impact and range with his writing. One of his most recent stories, "The Love Bunglers" is considered to be one of the high-water marks of contemporary comics. But just as easily he can also tell affecting, interesting superhero stories in his own vein, as with his tales of the Ti-Girls

In one of the highlights of my year, I got to meet Jaime in June at HeroesCon. I even got to be on a panel with him about Love and Rocket's 30th anniversary, having the unenviable task of discussing his artistic influences in front of the man. He was gracious, humble, candid, and a great storyteller. Later the  next day, he also took part in a fascinating discussion of his "The Love Bunglers" stories, and later still in the Artist's Alley he drew me a sketch of Penny Century.

Simply put, Jaime is a great guy and a great creator. Happy Birthday to him!

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