#19. Locas in Love, Jaime Hernandez (The Collected Love & Rockets, Vol. 18)
2000, Fantagraphics Books (material originally published in Penny Century, Measles, and Maggie & Hopey Color Fun, 1996-2000)
As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, I have loved Love & Rockets since I was about thirteen. It's one of the great joys of my life that this series (that's what it is, a black-and-white comics series written and drawn by California-based Mexican-American brothers Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez) is, despite all odds, still going; that it has no obvious end in sight, and that I can imagine (though I realize it's unlikely) that it may be with me all my life.
My ability to follow the series closely has varied with my own circumstances, and with the circumstances of its publication. Since about 2000, for various reasons -- the brothers were publishing several different series, the schedule was irregular, I was out of the country -- I have only been able to read issues every now and then, when I came across them in a shop; or, occasionally, spend several hours in a bookstore reading whatever recent compilations they had on hand. With the double inspiration of this 50books project, though, combined with the realization last month that the university library to which I have access (through my job) is willing and able to get even graphic novels for me -- quickly and easily! -- through interlibrary loan, I've begun a binge of catching up. This is freaking awesome, people.
So, even though I have already read Vol. 22 (Ghost of Hoppers, which I own), and the last post I made was on Vol. 20 (Dicks And Deedees), this post is about backtracking all the way to Vol. 18, Locas In Love, which I figured I should read anyway because I thought there might be some material in there I'd missed. (I'm only talking about even-numbered ones here because those are the ones collecting Jaime's work and storylines; the odd-numbered ones are Gilbert's collections. Um, I realize this is incredibly involuted. That's because I'm a comics dork, OK??? And I own all the volumes up to #15, Hernandez Satyricon, so... OK YES I AM A DORK!)
So anyway. Below are some spoilers.
- Hopey Glass (one of the series' two protagonists; there's no point in going into background detail, she defines herself as you read) is currently living in, apparently, LA, and apparently alone. She is welcoming -- or at least tolerating -- a visit from her brother Joey and his girlfriend, Janet Polo. They want to drive to Las Vegas, presumably to elope, but their car has stalled. Nothing's open on Sunday, so Hopey is reluctantly prevailed upon to call Maggie, her auto-mechanic friend. (Maggie is the other series protagonist, and is currently living in "the Valley" and managing an apartment complex.)
When Maggie gets there, she pronounces the car unfit to move -- "not today, anyway" -- so they all go to a pool party being held at the house of nouveau-riche Norma Costigan, ex-wife of rich industrialist H.R. Costigan, and her fourteen-year-old daughter Negra, who has inherited Costigan's horns. (Hopey doesn't actually know how to swim, but begged Maggie to take them all so that she could see Janet in a bikini.) At the party, while Norma shows off a super-high-powered telescope she bought for the incurious Negra, the others meet up with some people from their long-past punk days, including a bouncer who once picked on Joey. Joey is now a musclehead, so he beats the guy up, after which all four are forced to leave. Janet is pissed off at Joey, but gets over it when their car suddenly starts up again, so they drive off to Vegas. Maggie and Hopey are left to chat about the past and the present. They have a quickie in the back seat of Maggie's car, and Maggie heads for home.
In the interstices of the story, we get a Mini Rivero 1960s "Cocktail Hour" party; learn about Hopey's childhood, and her first realization that she was attracted to girls ("big ones"); check in on Cheetah Torpeda, super-powered female robot (also the name of a strip bar); and see a story about Li'l Ray, playing with his friends in the old neighborhood.
- The (now adult) Ray Dominguez, currently living in L.A. too, feels alienated in the big city. He thinks back on his two-year relationship with Maggie (stable and rewarding) and his years-long, obsessional, on-and-off affair with Penny Century (frustrating and rewarding).
- Two tiny cowboys fight the Devil.
- Maggie is doing some accounting work for Norma Costigan. This gets her inadvertently involved in the drama of fourteen-year-old Negra, who can't adjust to her new life as a rich heir apparent and is constantly trying to escape back to her grandma's house in the more urban neighborhood where she was raised.
- Some guy at Hopey's work keeps trying to ask her out. WTF?
- Little Ray sees something amazing.
- Grown-up Ray's apartment has been broken into. This provokes reflection on his own days as a (mostly harmless) adolescent break-in artist.
- Little Ray makes another amazing discovery.
- Penny gives Hopey a new hairstyle and look. Maggie has a harrowing experience trying to take the 696 back home.
- Snowman + Groundhog = Existential Conclusion.
- Norma and Negra try to have some serious mother-daughter conversation by the pool. This is interrupted when Norma's deeply unlikeable, vaguely European boyfriend Bolani drops by.
- Izzy (i.e. Isabel Ortiz, another cast member of long standing) is late for her book reading in the old neighborhood. Penny and Hopey go to her house and find that her nerves have caused her to grow to a size too large to fit through the door. A scary Kewpie elf, or demon, enters and explain the psychological underpinnings of the situation. Penny and Hopey figure out a work-around, and the reading goes on as planned.
- Space Queen, A.K.A. Space Girl, has a cocktail, and demonstrates once again why she is a raging bitch.
- Penny is staying with Izzy for a while. She is naked. Why? Unknown. Also, what's with the bottle of wine?
- Hopey is bartending for another pool party at Norma's, but it turns out that Hopey doesn't actually know how to mix drinks. (She bartends at a dive bar a couple of nights a week, but apparently in dive bars people only ever order beer.) Everyone is gets drunk, Bolani acts out, and the party ends badly. Negra escapes with her friend Peaches, and Hopey is forced to resort to calling her infatuated male coworker, Guy Goforth, for a pickup.
- Penny is naked again, but that's OK, because so is Izzy. They talk about the old days, and about Mrs. Galindo, who used to live in Izzy's now-haunted house. The ghost has drunk the wine Penny left out for it. We learn that industrialist H.R. Costigan is dying. (This is relevant, because Penny is currently his wife.) Penny bakes cookies.
- Li'l Ray has another ordinary afternoon in Hoppers. (Here comes the devils with their ice creams!)
- Now-grown-up Ray goes to a titty bar with his pal Joe from work, who thinks that Ray seems depressed. There Ray sees, and is immediately infatuated with, a stripper called "Velvet." But -- alas! -- he doesn't have anough for a lap dance. Frustrated, he goes for a long drive. He picks up a pair of very young hitchhikers (the reader recognizes them as Negra and her friend, Peaches) and gives them a lift home. Hanging out in a diner, he sees Hopey with Guy Goforth. This sends him back to his days living with Maggie, and from there to all the women he has desired, loved, and/or lost in his life. Well, Ray's like that.
- H.R. Costigan is dead. Penny takes off for a long road trip in her convertible, wearing space-'40s fashion and a domino mask. "As our dear Mrs. Galindo used to say, Isabel: Some people like to shop, others like to watch roller derby on Channel Five. Still, it's all prayer."
- Grown-up Ray still has bad dreams.
- A folk tale/ ghost story from "the town of Ysleta, Texas."
- Mini Rivero's Cocktail Hour again! Space Girl is the guest. You can guess how that'll go.
- A long, excellent flashback story in Jaime's Charlie Brown/Dennis the Menace childhood-story style, featuring young Isabel and baby Maggie in Hoppers, and all their family and childhood constellations.
I LOVE LOVE & ROCKETS, PEOPLE. And I still hold out hope that someday, someday, those stupid MacArthur people will get their heads out of their butts and do something for the Hernandez Brothers.
[Note: Tags I would like to add, when it becomes possible: superheroes; magic realism.]
- 19. Locas in Love (Love & Rockets Vol. 18), by Jaime Hernandez