Starting at 7:00 PM, Bernard will show you work from the 1870s to 1940, documenting how popular cartoon characters like the Yellow Kid, Little Orphan Annie, and Popeye have figured in advertising campaigns, and how their creators were highly sought-after pitchmen, selling products alongside the best movie stars in Hollywood. As part of his presentation, Bernard will have on-hand original ads and other advertisting items from the era.
This interview was conducted by Fantagraphics intern Rolando A. López. Thanks to Rolando and Jaime! And,Esperanza will be in stores this week! -- janice
In his 1989 The Comics Journal interview (#126), Jaime Hernandez said: “I hope [Love and Rockets is] still fresh 20-50 years from now. I hope it doesn’t lose anything in the long run. Even if I’m writing about contemporary things . . . I hope people can look back at it as a piece of history instead of a gimmick.”
Readers have followed the lives of Maggie, Hopey, and the gang for almost 30 years now, and Love and Rockets is still going strong. Today, Jaime Hernandez is one of the most revered names in the world of comic books and beyond; cartoonists Alison Bechdel, Zak Sally, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky and writer Junot Díaz have all cited his influence. Hernandez’s work, simply put, is part of the comics canon.
Esperanza, the fifth volume in the Complete Love and Rockets, collects the stories from Love and Rockets Vol. II. Here, readers see Maggie struggle with the ghosts of her past, find Hopey settling down, and meet some new faces, which cause trouble in the already troublesome lives of the Locas. In this Q&A, Jaime Hernandez talks about growing along with his characters, his storytelling techniques and his elusive muse.
Rolando A. López: Esperanza, Hopey’s full first name, means “Hope” in Spanish. Why did you choose this as the collection’s title?
Jaime Hernandez: Actually, Kim Thompson came up with it. I couldn’t think of a better title so I happily agreed to it.
López: It seems to me these stories would be really rewarding to someone who’s read the Locas saga since it began. How do you take into account readers who have been following the series when you’re crafting your comics? Conversely, what storytelling techniques do you use to help acclimate new readers to new Locas stories?
Hernandez: I try to tell these stories in a way that a new reader can jump in and not feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the continuity that has built up for 30 years. It’s not always easy. [As for the fans,] I can only hope they’ll stay with me even if we’ve been at it this long.
López: Elliptical storytelling — how did you develop it and why did you develop it and what does it allow you to do?
Hernandez: It happened naturally. The storytelling was more of a learning process for me than the art was in the early L&Rs. I was trying whatever worked. Soon I started to visualize the story like a movie, with cinematic jump cuts and things like that, and came to realize I could cut a lot of corners and fit in more story. That also taught me how to let the character’s body language and expressions tell the story instead of letting the words do it. Finally, it taught me that leaving out actual “story” involves the reader more by letting them fill it in themselves.
López: How do you structure your stories?
Hernandez: It’s different most of the time. If the characters write the story, which they most often do, it’s sort of waiting to see what will turn out. If an idea writes the story, it’s more tightly structured: making sure there’s a beginning, middle and end.
López: You have a very intuitive approach to storytelling — you listen for your muse and almost “transcribe” what she says. Do you ever have “fights” with your muse?
Hernandez: Every time. That way it will flow naturally but still connect with the reader. Muse doesn’t always translate on its own.
López: How do you calibrate your artistic process?
Hernandez: I trust my instincts. I have to.
López: How did this process play out in the writing of the first half of the book (the “Maggie” stories)?
Hernandez: I don’t remember. It was quite a few years ago. The usual, I suppose. If I’m doing Maggie, she’s always gonna tell me where to go. Yeesh! Listen to me! “And then a UFO came down and ...”
López: One new character is Vivian, a femme fatale: she destroys everything she touches, and in turn, everyone that touches her either lives to regret it, or dies. How did you come to create her?
Hernandez: I wanted to create a character with no boundaries: someone who basically has nothing to lose. A character like that is the funnest and easiest to write because they can be put into any situation and it works. Making her very sexy only lets her character get deeper into trouble.
López: Why did you decide to put her in Maggie’s life?
Hernandez: It wasn’t planned, but I discovered they worked really well together because Maggie is the opposite of Viv. With Maggie’s nagging conscience, I can only take her so far. Dragging her into Viv’s world gives her (and me) a lot more to work with.
López: Sometimes I think of Vivian as being a darker counterpart to Penny Century; they’re both desirable and somewhat volatile. Is this an apt comparison?
Hernandez: In a way, but I understand Viv’s demons more than I do Penny’s and hopefully that makes them feel a little different from each other. I know why Viv is crazy but I don’t know why Penny is crazy and I prefer it that way. Both give me a lot to work with in different ways.
We're all a-buzz over the 2011 Small Press Expo, which is just around the corner on September 10th & 11th in Bethesda, Maryland! And here are our Fantagraphics panel highlights -- plot your weekend accordingly:
Saturday, September 10th
Excruciating Detail: Drawing the Grotesque 1:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
Historical comics ranging from Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy to the horror comics of the 1950s have specialized in images of the grotesque. Sean T. Collins will speak with cartoonists Lisa Hanawalt (I Want You), Benjamin Marra (Night Business), Tom Neely (The Wolf), and Johnny Ryan (Prison Pit) about the act of drawing horrific, visceral, visual detail in contemporary comics that speak to horrors that are both timeless and contemporary.
The Secret History of Women in Comics 1:30 pm | Brookside Conference Room
The increased involvement of women in the comics field over the past several years has been a significant positive change in a historically male-dominated industry. However, just as it’s worth celebrating this progressive revolution, it is also worth noting that today’s women cartoonists are part of a lineage of pioneering women who have made many contributions to the field. Heidi MacDonald will discuss this history with Jessica Abel, Robyn Chapman, Alexa Dickman and Diane Noomin.
Anders Nilsen: Questions and Answers 2:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
This year Drawn and Quarterly publishes Anders Nilsen’s opus Big Questions. A dozen years in the making, this book sensitively depicts a philosophical crisis in a community of birds whose lives are forever changed by the destructive intervention of human violence. Nilsen has also published books including Dogs and Water, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes, and more. Nilsen will discuss his work with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.
The entry of comics as “graphic novels” into the publishing landscape has encouraged work that conforms to the narrative biases of conventional literary fiction. Joe “Jog” McCulloch will talk to Marc Bell (Pure Pajamas), Matthew Thurber (1-800-MICE) and Jim Woodring (Congress of the Animals) about producing graphic narratives that follow less conventional, more associative, and even visually based narrative logics that lend integrity to apparent surreality.
Stories of Cultural Identity 3:30 pm | Brookside Conference Room
America’s own culture wars are only part of a global struggle with identity, as nations the world over attempt to address the challenges of assimilating multiple cultures within a stable society. Moderator Rob Clough will talk to Jessica Abel (La Perdida), Marguerite Dabaie (The Hookah Girl), Sarah Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less) and G. B. Tran (Vietnamerica) about comics that deal with issues of cultural identity.
Johnny Ryan Q+A 5:30 pm | Brookside Conference Room
As comics have increasingly entered into the worlds of literary publishing and gallery arts, Johnny Ryan has almost single handedly extended comics’ satirical, parodistic, disreputable and scatological traditions in his comic book series Angry Youth Comix. More recently, he has entered the realm of visual pulp with his epic, no-holds-barred, manga-inflected graphic novel series Prison Pit. Ryan will discuss the development of his work with moderator Chris Mautner.
Sunday, September 11th
You Don’t Know Jacques: The Work of Jacques Tardi 1:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
In a special slideshow presentation, Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson will discuss the career of seminal French cartoonist Jacques Tardi, whose work Thompson has been translating in a new series of English-language editions. Relatively unknown until recently in the US, Tardi is a giant of French comics publishing. Active for over forty years and the author of dozens of books, Tardi is a foundational figure of auteurial bande dessinée.
In the early 2000s, corporate publishers nearly raced to acquire graphic novels. Now, as the mainstream publishing industry faces severe contractions and as online media assumes many traditional functions of publishing, cartoonists face a rapidly changing publishing landscape, one that includes a resurgent small press. Johanna Draper Carlson will speak with Domitille Collardey, Mike Dawson, Meredith Gran, Roger Langridge and Julia Wertz about publishing options today.
Diane Noomin Q+A 4:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
Jim Woodring: Seeing Things 5:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
Jim Woodring first made his mark with his probing, autobiographically-based series Jim. Since then, he has expansively focused on his character Frank, an anthropomorphic cartoon character moving wordlessly through a hallucinatory world of delight and terror, drawn in both meticulous pen-and-ink and gem-like color. His latest book is the Frank graphic novel Congress of the Animals. He will discuss his career in this spotlight session with moderator Ken Parille.
The great Jim Woodring is down in Australia, and if you missed him at GRAPHIC this past weekend, don't fret!
On Thursday, August 25th, Jim will be doing a free talk at the Earthed at Tanks Arts Centre, as part of the Cairns Festival, an annual arts and culture festival in North Queensland. It's his first time back to the festival since 2007, so don't miss it!
And then on Sunday, August 28th, Jim will be taking part in the Melbourne Writers Festival! Join him at 4:00 PM at the Ian Potter Centre for an hour-long discussion of his work.
UPDATE! Thanks to commenter Charles C. Good for the following additional information:
"He'll be in Melbourne for more than just that one event. He's also doing a second discussion and there's also a night-time event where he and a few other artists will be drawing in front of a crowd while a live band plays. You can see the details for all three events here."
Wendy does lovely work on her own, as well, including this piece off her website.
And here's her collaboration with Josh for Mome 22 -- a heartwarming portrait of the friendship between... rocker Axl Rose and auteur James Cameron. Pre-order now, and be among the first to read of their adventures! And stay tuned as we introduce you to more first-time Mome artists on the FLOG!
Fantagraphics Booksand the Ninkasi Brewing Company are proud to present... METALHAUS!
For one night only, join Portable Grindhouse editor Jacques Boyreau, along with Darren Aboulafia and Tim Colley, for a "designer mess-up of VHS flotsam, hipster kitsch, and remastered live shows from seminal provocateurs like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Blondie, Roxy Music, P.I.L., The Clash, and, oh yeah, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, AC/DC."
Oh, and did I mention... there will be a special guest appearance by Killbot, a 9-foot-tall killer robot! Capitol Hill, you are doomed.
The Metalhaus reign of TV-trash-terror starts at 10:00 PM on Saturday, August 20th, at the Northwest Film Forum [1515 12th Ave, Seattle]. You do not want to miss this.
This weekend, the Boise Art Museum unveils a new exhibit that is right down our alley: Comics at the Crossroads: Art of the Graphic Novel.
The exhibition spotlights 40 different comic book artists from the Pacific Northwest, including our own Jim Woodring, Ellen Forney, Shannon Wheeler, and Colleen Coover. We're also excited to see Fanta-friends David Lasky and Matthew Southworth included in the line-up!
Included in the exhibit will be original artwork, unpublished drawings, book covers, and more!
A preview party for Comics at the Crossroads is happening this Friday, August 19th at 5:30 PM, and the exhibit runs from August 20th to November 27th at the Boise Art Museum [670 Julia Davis Drive, Boise, Idaho].
Mome 22 introduces a slew of first-time contributors, and today, we continue our spotlight on these newcomers with a new favorite of mine, Malachi Ward! Malachi was gracious enough to spend some time signing with us at San Diego Comic-Con, despite the fact that Mome 22 was delayed in customs and didn't make it after all. Quite clearly, he is awesome.
Malachi debuted this gorgeous self-published comic at SDCC. If you turn it over, it has an entirely different cover and different story. I tried to convince Malachi that he could trick people into buying two copies that way, but he is far too nice for that kind-of trickery.
Malachi also does a collaborative comic with Matt Sheean titled Expansion. Above is a sneak peek at Expansion Part Three, which they plan to debut at APE 2011!
And here's a sneak peek at his contribution to Mome, Vol. 22! Don't you wanna see more? Well, pre-order now! And stay tuned as we introduce you to more first-time Mome artists on the FLOG!
And this Friday, August 19th, Jacob will be appearing at Easy Street Records in West Seattle! Enjoy an ice cold beer as the store spins hits from the "grunge" era, and join Jacob for a presentation, followed by a Q&A.
(And don't miss the vinyl section upstairs at Easy Street, man, oh man...)
This fall fashion comic for New York Magazine didn't win any awards as far as I know, but it totally wins for "Most Likely to Catch Janice's Eye." (It helps that the comic shares a title with one of the best albums ever made ever.)
And here's a panel from Jim's contribution to the upcoming Mome. Hey! What's gonna happen to that beautiful baby doe?! Find out when Mome 22 hits the streets later this month! And stay tuned as we introduce you to more debuting Mome artists on the FLOG!
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