Monday, September 06, 2004


A couple of months ago, while discussing Fantagraphics’ upcoming slate of releases with P.R. master Eric Reynolds, I broke down and made a shameful, awful confession to him:

I had never read LOVE AND ROCKETS. Ever.

We’re talking about one of the seminal independent comics of all-time, a book that has been around in various incarnations since the 80s. But I had never cracked an issue. How is that possible?

It’s easier than you might think. By the time I became aware of the book, as the 80s drew to a close, it was well on towards a long run. So that left me a bit intimidated towards getting started. Plus, the shop I went to never seemed to have a decent run of consecutive issues, so even if I wanted to sample it, I couldn’t get a good head of steam. I could give you plenty of other flimsy excuses, but what it boiled down was that I just moved on to other books. For better or worse. But now, much, much later, I have finally taken the plunge. And I get it.

LOVE AND ROCKETS #10 and #11. LUBA #8. LUBA’S COMICS AND STORIES #4. Read ‘em all. They’re pretty good.

LOVE AND ROCKETS has thrived and succeeded for the length of time it has because Los Bros Hernandez have the creation of soap opera down to a science. Yes, some people will scream loudly that “soap opera” is a dirty and demeaning term. Those people need to unclench. Soap opera isn’t just the most typical format for an afternoon broadcast drama. Being honest, yeah, those are generally cheesy. But quality soap opera can be brilliant. NYPD BLUE. STAR TREK. ALIAS. You can couch them in terms of their genre, but at heart, they’re soaps. Consider comics. X-MEN is about as pure a soap opera as the medium as ever been produced. So don’t mock the soap, okay?

In classic soap tradition, LOVE AND ROCKETS follows multiple generations of a family, focusing heavily on matriarch Luba. The foibles of her extended family are marvelous. Luba’s daughter Doralis, a children’s show host, has just come out as a lesbian. Luba’s sister Fritz may or may not be involved sexually with Doralis’ producer Pipo. Luba’s daughter Guadalupe is confused and stuck about her own life, considering she’s been working on Doralis’ now-dead show. There are also men on the fringes, but in true soap fashion, it’s all about the women.

There are plenty of other side stories in these issues as well, some of which stand alone and separate from the LOVE AND ROCKETS universe. Artistically simple, and yet subtly complex in how it plays in body language and motion between the characters, I got sucked into LOVE AND ROCKETS very easily. I’m just sorry it took so long. Of course, there’s a lot of story ahead and behind of these issues. I guess that’ll give me plenty of opportunities.