It goes without saying that Gilbert Hernandez will always be best known for his work alongside his brother Jaime on Love and Rockets. But he is also known for having a rather crazy side when it comes to comics, especially when he is not under any restrictions. And nothing captures his crazy imagination more than Blubber – a five-part series collected in a new hardcover from Fantagraphics.
Being unrestrained in both a narrative and content sense, Blubber is one of the most wild/lewd comics you will ever read and will definitely appeal to fans of Prison Pit and Basil Wolverton. There is no grand structure or deep meaning to be found, but it is cartooning at its rawest form. Having largely worked in building a world of fully developed and intertwined characters in Love and Rockets’ Palomar, this is quite a departure from Hernandez’s previous work. What we have are some absolutely insane characters saying and doing various shocking things – quite often in a very matter of fact way.
There is nothing in the way of subtlety in this collection which plays to its strengths. Hernandez’s characters are a mix of anthropomorphic animals and twisted looking people who are far removed from fully rounded characters, but they are a perfect fit for the sardonic approach he has taken in this collection. Whether it is a crazy take on Ocean’s Eleven or wild portrayals of bodily functions and sex, nothing seems to be off limit. There is no shortage of funny animal comic strips, but you’d be as hard-pressed to find one as off-the-wall as this, especially when it comes to parodying sex. Under normal circumstances, such madness and depravity would be pushing several boundaries, but Hernandez’s witty style and skill at cartooning mixed with his nonchalant dialogue make the whole thing highly amusing.
Whilst this might be a bit of a shock to the system for Gilbert Hernadez’s established fanbase, it is great fun to see what happens when he put pen to paper and just lets anything random come out, no matter how shocking it might sometimes be. Anyone with an appreciation for classic underground comics (especially those that pushed boundaries) need to give Blubber a look.
Blubber is out now from Fantagraphics (9781683964865, h/b, £16.99)
Or support your local bookstore.
Want regular updates and weekly reviews on the latest in graphic novels and manga? Follow us on Twitter @turnaroundcomix.