Los Bros Hernandez are represented in these pages with their feet half in the youthful verve of L&R 1: MUSIC FOR MECHANICS and half in the more realized and complex pages of L&R 3: LAS MUJERES PERDIDAS or L&R: X.
Gilbert tells his first major Palomar story in Sopa De Gran Pena, the story that launched a thousand Marquez comparisons. A sprawling, multi-generational tapestry of life, love, and loss in a small Mexican town, Gilbert's work here defines the Comic-as-Social-Novel. The Palomar stories are rich and alive, its characters breathing and growing as you turn the pages. Sopa De Gran Pena, sets the tone for many of Gilbert's stories to come - it translates into Heartbreak Soup.
The longest Jaime story here is called 100 Rooms and follows the Hoppers 13 girls into the palatial residence of a multikajillionaire. This story takes the girls a few steps closer to the post-punk real-life Betty and Veronica milieu they'd eventually evolve into and away from the giddy sci-fi pop vibe that so saturated the earliest MECHANIX stories. Hopey, in love with Maggie; Maggie, in love with Casey maybe; Penny, in love with herself. It starts with a hunt for fifty bucks to buy Maggie a pair of boots. It ends with tears.
I first read this book in the summer of 1993. That was the summer that I graduated high school, I wrecked my car bad. I was dating a pigeon-toed girl with Clorox hair and steel-capped boots. When we'd spent what I was making delivering pizzas (before the car crash), we'd scrape coins from the guts of sofas and haggle over the price of cigarettes at the Circle K. When it was dark, we'd be in an all-night diner drinking swill coffee, smoking, and writing. We were smartass little failures, and we had an all right time of it. That was the summer I read this book, CHELO'S BURDEN, again and again.
I was right about the age of Maggie and Hopey and the rest. I was in about the same place, too.
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.