2017 marked the 35th anniversary of the Love and Rockets series. In its lifetime, it has established itself as one of the cornerstones of the alternative graphic novel genre. It’s a case of apples and oranges whether one prefers Jamie or Gilbert, but both Hernandez brothers bring something special to their respective works. In Jaime’s case, it’s the sheer variety of subjects he’s able to draw and the blurring of genres in his work. Whether it’s all classes of Chicano culture, ‘80s punk, wrestling, family life, or his deep understanding of the inner-workings of humans – especially his women characters – everything in his work maintains a vibrant and iconic feel. His bold black and white cartooning style has all the traditional charm of classic comics that the series has evoked over the years and lends itself to almost any situation.
Here, Jaime Hernandez returns to bring his side of the Love and Rockets series full circle in the follow-up to the much-loved Love Bunglers. Is This How You See Me? Focuses on Jaime’s most popular characters, Maggie and Hopey, as they take a journey through their past and present. Leaving their significant others for a weekend, the two take a weekend road trip to go to a punk scene reunion in their old neighbourhood. Threaded throughout are flashbacks to 1979, during the formative stages in their lifelong relationship, as the perceived invincibility of youth is juxtaposed against all of the love, heartbreak, and self-awareness that comes with lives actually lived.
But unsurprisingly, the main strength of the comic comes from Jaime’s two protagonists. Readers have followed Maggie and Hopey since 1982 and are some of the most well rounded characters in comics. Maggie in particular has gone from her tumultuous childhood, to becoming a travelling mechanic who has sci-fi adventures, to a landlord who finally finds happiness. This entry in the series is a perfect celebration of her journey – especially when it comes to her relationship with Hopey.
Hopey has her own intricate, complex, and long-running story line. As an always-out lesbian who reads like a cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Robert Smith, Hopey was always the troublemaker. She smashed up the stage at gigs, threw bottles at the straight people who mocked her look, and got into fights with the other punks in the neighbourhood. We saw her calm as she grew, eventually becoming a teacher and settling down with a partner to make a family (while still keeping a hint of her wildness). The one thing that has remained completely consistent throughout her story has been her love for Maggie, which has been at times romantic, at others platonic. It’s great to see them reunited.
Is This How You See Me? is another strong entry in the always dependable Love and Rockets series and is a great example of why Jaime Hernandez is an all-time great. Will more than satisfy long-time fans!
Is This How You See Me? is out now from Fantagraphics
(9781683961826, h/b, £17.99)