Love and Rockets: New Stories

However, the story that dominates the issue–it takes up half of the hundred pages–is Jaime’s “Ti-Girls Adventures No. 34.” It’s a remarkably vapid strip that reimagines the superhero genre with Jaime’s standard-issue fantasy girlfriend characters. Jaime’s central flaw as a cartoonist is that he doesn’t really write stories; he commits his daydreams to paper. (He may load them up with grit and angst, but they’re daydreams nonetheless.) His pieces are rarely worked out in terms of dramatic conflicts or narrative effects; one thing just happens after another, and the reader’s interest is largely defined by how much one shares Jaime’s infatuation with the girls he depicts. I quit finding the ding-a-ling behavior of late teenage girls charming somewhere in my mid-20s, when my hormones cooled down enough to look at them and not fight the temptation to drool.

Martin, Robert Stanley. The Hernandez Brothers, Love and Rockets: New Stories #1. Pol Culture. 23 Nov 2008.

I just reread the issue (well, the Jaime parts, my tastes just don’t work with Gilbert) and while I do agree that the Ti-Girls story is rather vapid (and a real poor choice if this new iteration of L&R is supposed to reach a larger bookstore audience), I think Martin is off the mark on Jaime’s work in general. Calling his work “daydreams” makes it sound like his work is an airy flight of fancy. There is a sense of “one thing just happens after another” but that reflects the realism that underpins the more fantastical aspects of his work. Jaime’s work is about characters across large spans of time. Things do just happen one after another, that’s how life is. Which isn’t to say I think his work lacks drama, there has been plenty of drama over the years, though, granted, a lot of that has cooled off in the recent issues. The characters have settled down and the narrative, similarly, has also.

The way Jaime lets his characters grow and evolve (or not, depending on the character, but you know when they don’t that it’s on purpose) over time is what really attracts me to his work (that and his amazing style). For someone who is so clearly influenced by and still interested in superheroes, his work is a kind of diametric opposite to the ageless superheroes.

To say interest in his stories is somehow about “infatuation” with the characters or “ding-a-ling” teen behavior is ridiculous. The interest is more than infatuation, it’s a long term relationship, like one might have with a long running tv serial or comic strip. They are like friends whose life stories you follow while remaining safely outside the drama. And the teenage focus of the stories disappeared long ago. The recurrence in recent issues with the Angel character seems to be there more as a counterpoint to Maggie’s approaching middle age. (And the fact of her friendship with the teen seems like a critique to me.)

That said, I’m disappointed that next year will bring more superhero antics. That’s two years until we, hopefully, get something more interesting.