Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Part of me hopes he'll never know about any of it nor all the other stupid crap I've done in my life."
"None of us is perfect, Espy... I believe a person has a right to keep parts of their life to themselves if it doesn't hurt loved ones... but also so it doesn't hurt loved ones... something that remains your own even when... even when..."
"When you move on? I'll buy that."
Except many of us can't move on and we're still buying it.
LOVE AND ROCKETS, that is! I could try and explain more, but actually the Fantagraphics hypewriter has pretty much perfectly captured the essence of this bittersweet comics symphony. So I'll simply let them introduce what has already become one of my favourite ever LnR stories...
"In IS THIS HOW YOU SEE ME?, Maggie and Hopey get the band back together - literally. Now middle-aged, they leave their significant others at home and take a weekend road trip to reluctantly attend a punk rock reunion in their old neighbourhood.
The present is masterfully threaded with a flashback set in 1979, during the very formative stages in Maggie and Hopey's lifelong friendship, as the perceived invincibility of youth is expertly juxtaposed against all of the love, heartbreak, and self-awareness that comes with lives actually lived.
The result is no sentimental victory lap, however - this is one of the great writers of literary fiction at the peak of his powers, continuing to scale new heights as an artist. Hernandez's acclaimed ongoing comics series LOVE AND ROCKETS has entertained readers for over 35 years, and his beloved characters - Maggie, Hopey, Ray, Doyle, Daffy, Mike Tran, and so many others - have become fully realized literary creations.
IS THIS HOW YOU SEE ME? collects Hernandez's latest interconnected vignettes, serialized over the past four years in Love and Rockets, into a long-form masterpiece for the first time."
Quite so, for this truly is a masterpiece. Just for the record, this collects material from LOVE AND ROCKETS NEW STORIES VOLS 7 & 8 and LOVE AND ROCKETS VOL IV #1 - #5.
If, like me, you've kept an affection for Maggie, Hopey and all the other Locas over years, despite my attention inevitably wandering due to the ever-burgeoning output of other wonderful comics out there and also the at times substantial intervals between new LnR material, I think you'll find this collection both the perfect retrospective and reacquaintance with our chums, young and old versions alike.
Like in THE LOVE BUNGLERS, I found the flashback sequences immensely poignant, with the sheer boundless, buzzing chaotic energy of our characters, especially Maggie and Hopey, (well definitely Hopey!) as kids in stark contrast to the world weary middle-aged versions, sharing their hard won wisdom and reflecting upon how the hell they all ended up where they are. There's one touching moment in particular that almost had me reaching for my hankie...
Set against the backdrop of a reunion road trip that is just as disastrously action-packed as any of their early escapades, I found myself chuckling at my - and their - subsequent wry realisation that perhaps they hadn't changed that much after all.
Jaime is indeed, like brother Gilbert (MARBLE SEASON / BUMPERHEAD / HIGH SOFT LISP / LOVERBOYS / THE TROUBLEMAKERS), seemingly only getting better and better as a writer. Artistically, well, you know what you're going to get, and that is fine. As good an illustrator as Jaime is, especially in capturing his characters' emotions (and in young Hopey's case histrionics), it is his storytelling that keeps us coming back time after time. And we will keep doing so as long as he keeps writing! Pretty sure there's some serious mileage to be had in pensioner Locas!