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Gilbert Hernandez

Price: 
14.99

Page 45 Review by Stephen

"Mrs Paz! How many people live in Lágrimas?"
"Well, last time I checked, it was six hundred and seventy-seven, Daniela."
"Of course a teacher would know the answer! Thanks!"
"Sure."

Mrs Paz turns away from her window.

"Lágrimas… Tears…"

Whenever someone asks for recommendations we first enquire what they're already into in this or other media, then what sort of a comic or graphic novel they're after that particular day.

Matching the right books to the right people is crucial, and it's very easy now there is so much quality and diversity in comics: plenty of politics, masses of memoirs, so much sci-fi, enough crime to fill the average jail cell and quite enough comedy to keep you chortling until you choke. You've seen our Young Adult sections, right? Plural, yes.

However, occasionally we're asked for romance and although we fall far from short in that department too, when asked for romances to make you feel better, well... relationships do not end well in comics! Think about it: Adrian Tomine's SHORTCOMINGS, Posy Simmonds' TAMARA DREWE and GEMMA BOVERY (she's dead at the start of that one!), Julie Maroh's BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR (ditto!) Will Eisner's THE NAME OF THE GAME and even Simone Lia's FLUFFY can't be counted on for that!

There is one Los Bros Hernandez graphic novel that gives one unexpected cause for optimism, but if I reveal which one then I've rather spoiled it for you. Then there's quite of lot of Yaoi which is inexplicable give how fucked up most of the protagonists are, and I guess there's Tomine's SCENES FROM AN IMPENDING MARRIAGE. That ended well: he got married!

But I tell you, we do struggle.

In the small town of tears called Lágrimas young Daniella is suspicious of a strange building, determined to avoid school and toying with idea of blowing up the school building or even the entire town with dynamite. I'm not sure where she'd get some. Now she's discovered that Mrs Paz will be her new school teacher come Monday and she'll be giving them a big test immediately. She settles on the more practical solution of pinching Mrs. Paz's cell phone and cribbing the answers off that.

Meanwhile, her old brother Rocky who looks after her in their parents' absence is studiously fending the off the advances of his beautiful boss. He only has eyes for his former high school teacher, Mrs. Paz. She isn't young. She has the worry lines of someone to whom life could have been kinder and a faraway look in her eyes. But with rich, dark hair and eyes to match she remains very handsome indeed.

"Will you go out to dinner with me?" asks Rocky.
"Yes."

Once again, there is that faraway look in her eyes, the top half of her face in close-up. She hasn't turned round.

But on the very next panel she's seated at the restaurant with Rocky, and her face has lit up. She's now wearing lipstick and a simple, elegant necklace.

At which point I refer you back to the beginning of my sales pitch and leave you to wonder what happens next.

This is an original A5 graphic novel completely separate from LOVE AND ROCKETS. At eighty pages it's a relatively slight affair compare to MARBLE SEASON or JULIO'S DAY but I found it charming. Well, the first fifty pages or so. After that some people start losing their charm, others their tempers, but the first fifty pages have a certain stillness to them. Some of the eyes in particular are very quiet. Also, I notice that with one exception the men are all straight, perpendicular lines - only the women have curves.

So often there is a strong element of folklore in Beto's books. Jaime's as well, now I think of it. And quite often that folklore's proved true.

Lastly, as ever, the children with their often ill-informed perspectives play not inconsiderable roles, and come out with the bluntest of questions.

"How come your name is still Mrs. Paz? Just in case Mr. Paz ever comes back?"

Ouch.

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