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Praise for Gilbert Hernandez's Marble Season from the London Free Press

Updated January 7, 2014


"Review: Time marches slowly in Marble Season"
By Dan Brown
London Free Press, Sept 5 2013

"The brilliance of Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season isn’t simply that it recreates childhood as many of us remember it, it’s that the book captures the way children perceive the passage of time.

It’s not only the best graphic novel to do so, but perhaps the best work of art, period, to demonstrate how kids live in the eternal Now.

There’s a languid rhythm to Marble Season; it’s hard to tell when one day ends and the next begins. Time is marked by sessions of play, the coming and going of friends, the weekly TV schedule.

What’s so poignant is the members of this neighbourhood gang don’t realize they are growing into a less fun milieu, one in which racial and gender politics play a larger part.

As in Peanuts, there are no parents in this world.

The point of entry is Huey, the middle child of a Latino family living in suburban California in the 1960s, who likes to stage plays based on Captain America comics in his backyard. Huey makes and sheds friends easily.

His mom throws out his favourite trading cards. He’s pretty much me. Or you.

If you haven’t sampled the work of Los Bros Hernandez, known for their long-running alternative comic Love and Rockets, Marble Season is the perfect opportunity to jump on board.

And late summer is the perfect time to drift back to your younger years.

Free Press columnist Dan Brown moderates London’s L.A. Mood’s graphic-novel book club."
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



  Honolulu Star-Advertiser loves Marble Season

Updated September 11, 2013


"5 Things We Love"

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, July 22, 2013

Graphic Novel is an ode to childhood

Gilbert Hernandez's all-ages graphic novel "Marble Season" (Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95) is a semiautobiographical story of growing up in a multi-ethnic, working-class Southern California neighborhood in the 1960s. The characters include Huey, an imaginative, comic-book-loving boy, his younger brother Chavo, and a mysterious girl who's always listening to Motown and "Beatos" songs on her transistor radio. The last few pages, which focus on Huey's friendship with Betty, a girl from the 'hood, are magical in their simple directness. Throughout his successful career, Hernandez has demonstrated an affinity for small-kid times,and "Marble Season" is told in a vivid but measured style that invites readers to linger on those small moments that make childhood so special.
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured product

Marble Season




The A.V. Club on superhero work by Gilbert Hernandez, Kate Beaton, and Daniel Clowes

Updated September 11, 2013


"Costumed-crusader comix: 17 superhero stories by alt-comic creators"

by Jason Heller and Oliver Sava
The A.V. Club, July 15, 2013

1. Bizarro Comics & Bizarro World (Various)
Using Superman’s warped reflection Bizarro as a starting point, DC brings in some of alternative comics’ top creators to offer a fresh point of view of its superheroes for two graphic-novel anthologies: Bizarro Comics and Bizarro World. Never before has Superman’s musculature been more grotesque or Batman’s costume more wrinkled, as most of the creators choose to spotlight the less glamorous side of superheroes. Dylan Horrocks and Farel Dalrymple craft a sad story about The Flash wanting to stop running, Mike Doughty and Danny Hellman put Aquaman onstage with an acoustic guitar, and Todd Alcott and Michael Kupperman depict a Justice League in the midst of its ultimate crisis: ennui. Actor/comedian/writer/occasional A.V. Club contributor Patton Oswalt pens a Batman story, and James Kochalka’s Legion Of Superheroes short lays the foundation for his later SuperF*ckers series. The creative pairings are inspired, from Harvey Pekar and Dean Haspiel on the titular character to Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez on Red Bee and Jeff Smith and Paul Pope on Superman, exhibiting the type of refreshing creative chemistry that should be embraced by mainstream superhero comics.

2. Birds Of Prey Vol. 1 #50-55 (Gilbert Hernandez)
While his brother Jaime—who worked on the female dynamic duo of comix, Maggie Chascarillo and Hopey Glass—might seem like a more natural choice to write the adventures of DC’s premier female superhero team, Love And Rockets’ Gilbert Hernandez delivers a charming six-issue Birds Of Prey storyline that feels like it’s been pulled from a different era. A bright, Silver Age-inspired adventure that partners Black Canary and Oracle with Metamorpho, The Element Man, Hernandez’s story embraces the silliness of the superhero genre. The dialogue can get a bit hokey and overly dated—at one point Black Canary actually says, “Like Lucy, they got some ’splainin’ to do”—but Hernandez’s script benefits from Casey Jones’ clean, animated artwork. Jones has a more conventional superhero style than Hernandez, but it would be fascinating to see what the writer could do if he were given control of the visuals as well.

3. Shazam!: The Monster Society Of Evil (Jeff Smith)
Jeff Smith is one of those comics creators who is, and will likely always be, irreparably linked to one major work: the fantasy epic Bone. His most recent series, RASL, expanded his scope into darker territory, but his 2007 miniseries, Shazam!: The Monster Society Of Evil, has been his biggest departure from Bone. Not only does he work with Captain Marvel, one of DC’s most critically neglected characters, Smith unabashedly taps into the gosh-wow iconography of the (literally) boyish hero without suppressing the fluid dynamism and graphic boldness of his idiosyncratic, creator-owned work.

4. Zot! (Scott McCloud)
Even if Scott McCloud had never created anything other than his 1993 book Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, he’d be rightly lauded as a visionary in the medium of graphic narrative. But where Understanding Comics dissects and qualifies the hidden wonder of comics, McCloud’s lesser-known comic book from the ’80s, Zot!, embodied it. The 36-issue series—which McCloud briefly revived in 2000 and belatedly collected in 2008—chronicles the lighthearted yet conceptually sophisticated adventures of Zot!, a zippy, youthful superhero not too far removed from Captain Marvel. As McCloud’s follow-ups to Understanding Comics continue to roll out, Zot! feels increasingly like an oddity in his catalog—although it’s vital one.

5. Strange Tales I & II (Various)
Following the success of DC’s Bizarro graphic novels, Marvel engaged in its own alternative-comics experiment with two Strange Tales miniseries. The books share many of Bizarro’s creators, including Peter Bagge, Michael Kupperman, James Kochalka, Paul Pope, Harvey Pekar, and Tony Millionaire, but the Marvel miniseries places considerably more emphasis on superhero action. Super Spy and Mind MGMT creator Matt Kindt writes and draws a retro Black Widow adventure, Rafael Grampa tells a brutal tale of Wolverine in a fighting ring, and James Stokoe details the destruction caused by world-eater Galactus in chilling detail. There are plenty of lighter stories as well, including Kraven’s hunt for a prom date by Kate Beaton, a mustache-growing contest between The Thing and The Human Torch by Jacob Chabot, and hilarious comic strips by Perry Bible Fellowship’s Nicholas Gurewitch. It’s also the only place to find samurai Hulk, given life by Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai.

6. Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules (James Sturm, Guy Davis)
What if the heroes of the Fantastic Four were based on real people? That’s the concept of James Sturm and Guy Davis’ Eisner Award-winning miniseries Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules, exploring the cultural foundation of Marvel’s First Family by stripping away its powers and casting it as a middle-class American family in the 1950s. Dr. Reed Richards is a scientist stretching himself thin between his home and work; Susan Sturm is a neglected woman aching to escape her life of suburban domesticity but tied down by Reed and her rebellious kid brother, Johnny; and Ben Grimm is a deadbeat boxing trainer desperately looking for someone to love. It’s a brilliant piece of historical fiction that looks at the relationships among these characters in ways that haven’t been detailed before, and even includes a cameo appearance from the founders of Marvel Comics, who crash the party Susan throws for Reed’s co-workers.

7. God And Science: Return Of The Ti-Girls (Jaime Hernandez)
In its early-’80s infancy, the universe of Los Bros. Hernandez’s Love And Rockets encompassed a myriad of genres and probabilities, from subdued magic realism to pulp science-fiction. Jaime Hernandez returned to the latter—with a healthy dose of capes and tights—in 2012’s God And Science: Return Of The Ti-Girls. A collection of a serialized tale from the pages of L&R, Ti-Girls revolves around the series’ secondary player, Penny Century, and her tragicomic stabs at superheroism—with plenty of ultra-powered poignancy provided by L&R main character Maggie Chascarrillo.

8. The Death-Ray (Daniel Clowes)
In his epochal indie series Eightball, Daniel Clowes set about deconstructing everything he could put his pen to: David Lynch-esque surrealism, coming-of-age angst-fests, and even comics fandom itself. In a 2004 issue of Eightball, he introduced his ultimate pastiche: The Death-Ray. Fleshed out into a 2011 graphic novel, The Death-Ray not only spoofed and backhandedly honored Steve Ditko’s groundbreaking co-creation of the ectomorphic, misanthropic superhero (see: Spider-Man), it stretched Clowes’ postmodern oeuvre into the mythology of spandex.

9. Omega The Unknown (Farel Dalrymple)
When novelist Jonathan Lethem revived forgotten Steve Garber creation Omega The Unknown in 2007, he needed an artist that could balance superhero spectacle and slice-of-life realism for his haunting coming-of-age story. Pop Gun War creator Farel Dalrymple renders the New York City environment in meticulous detail, and shows an understanding of the full range of human emotion that is required for Lethem’s deeply personal, psychologically dense script. Following a teenage boy who discovers his parents are robots just before meeting a superhero that he shares a mysterious bond with, the miniseries breaks down superhero conventions to tell an experimental yet deeply poignant tale of a young man trying to find his place in the world. The superhero elements take a backseat to the character interactions, and Dalrymple’s talent for capturing the mundane aspects of civilian life brings even more impact to the moments of fantasy.

10. Batman: Year 100 (Paul Pope)
The thick inks and dynamic motion of Paul Pope’s work make him an ideal fit for the shadow-covered, action-packed world of the Dark Knight, and he gets free rein to do whatever he wants with the hero by jumping forward in time to tell story set in the Gotham City in the future. Pope’s sense of design is utilitarian with a heavy dose of sci-fi spectacle, creating a strikingly imposing urban environment that is grounded in gritty reality. Few Batman costume designs are as meticulously detailed as Pope’s, which calls attention to the folds in the costume’s fabric, the laces and tread of his leather boots, and the clips that attach his cape to his body armor. It’s such a great look that DC made a statue of it, and the three-dimensional model beautifully captures the sense of weight that Pope brings to his artwork.

11. SuperF*ckers (James Kochalka)
The best superhero spoofs cut to the core of the pratfalls and bathos that real people would suffer if given extraordinary powers. And then there’s SuperF*ckers. Collected in 2010, James Kochalka’s saga of his band of do-nothing do-gooders departs wildly in topic—if not tone—from his quirky-yet-heartfelt works like the autobiographical American Elf. It makes synchronous sense that SuperF*ckers was adapted in animated form starting in 2012; if ever there were a contender for a superhero parallel to Adventure Time (only with profanity), SuperF*ckers is it.

12. Wonder Wart-Hog (Gilbert Shelton)
The underground comix revolution that began in the ’60s went arm-in-arm with the ascendant counterculture—which means superheroes were about as welcome as narcs. Leave it to underground cartoonist Gilbert Shelton of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers fame to mash together the two ends of the spectrum. Started as a lark in college humor magazine in 1962, the grotesque takedown of the Superman mythos—at a time when DC was doing its Silver Age best to make the real Superman look as ridiculous as possible—continued for years, eventually being recognized as one of the first instances of an independent cartoonist publishing his own warped mutation of the upstanding superhero.

13. Daredevil Vol. 2 #51-55 (David Mack)
Kabuki creator David Mack introduced deaf assassin Maya “Echo” Lopez in an earlier Daredevil storyline with artist Joe Quesada, but he takes complete creative control when he sends the Native American character on a vision quest years after her first appearance. Using his signature mix of pencil, paint, and collage, Mack creates a visually stunning story that reads unlike anything else Marvel published at the time. It’s stylistically and thematically similar to Mack’s creator-owned work, but replaces Japanese mythology and iconography with that of Native American culture. Being one of the publisher’s top characters, Wolverine has to appear in as many Marvel titles as possible, but Mack cleverly inserts him in the middle of Echo’s vision quest by casting the hairy mutant as her spirit animal.

14. Runaways Vol. 3 #1-9 (Terry Moore)
Terry Moore’s Strangers In Paradise shows an acute ability for depicting believable human relationships on a comic page, but that skill doesn’t translate when he’s working on superhero teens. Following in the footsteps of former Runaways writers Brian K. Vaughan and Joss Whedon isn’t an easy task, but Moore opts for a Saturday-morning cartoon feel that doesn’t gel with the more mature tone of the previous volumes. The writer backtracks on established character development to return the Runaways to the personalities they had in the very first issue of the series, and he loses sight of the book’s central concept: being on the run. Sales plummeted during Moore’s run, and despite Marvel’s best efforts to revive the title after Moore’s departure, it was quickly canceled, and the Runaways have not had an ongoing series since.

15. Wonder Woman (Kate Beaton)
Unlike Peter Bagge’s Megalomaniacal Spider-Man or Incorrigible Hulk, Kate Beaton’s recurring rendition of Wonder Woman is not officially condoned, licensed, or otherwise approved. Not that Beaton cares. On her Hark! A Vagrant webcomic, Beaton interprets the Amazonian superhero as a snarling, mean-spirited woman who only wonders why everyone around her—Superman and Batman included—are such idiots. Not only does Beaton poke fun at the many attempts by male creators over the decades to make Wonder Woman a strident feminist, it loops a mercilessly satirical Lasso Of Truth around the character’s inherent magniloquence.

16. Bighead (Jeffrey Brown)
For every muted, hushed, depressingly funny burst of autobiography that Jeffrey Brown has put on the page—from his 2002 breakthrough, Clumsy, to the superb new A Matter Of Life—the cartoonist has executed a goofy interpretation or parody of some pop-culture icon. Whether it’s the Transformers in Incredible Change-Bots or Star Wars in his current series of Darth Vader-as-hapless-dad books, Brown’s flair for parody is both cutting and loving. But he’s only dabbled in superheroes once; in 2004’s Bighead, he uses his titular crusader to illustrate how acting gentle, silly, and even deploying a non sequitur can save the day as easily as being made of steel.

17. Prophet (Various)
Brandon Graham’s library of erotic comics and sci-fi slacker stories makes him an unconventional choice to revive a Rob Liefeld property from the early ’90s, but his unique point of view is exactly why Prophet has become one of Image’s best series. Teaming with artists Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, and Giannis Milonogiannis, and occasionally contributing to the visuals himself, Graham has created a sprawling epic that is part Conan The Barbarian, part Dune, complete with a H.R. Giger-esque design aesthetic inspired by genitalia. Every few issues, Graham hands over the writing reins to one of his artistic collaborators, introducing even more distinct perspectives to the narrative. Prophet is one of the most bizarre, unpredictable superhero comics currently published, and the scope only expands with each new issue.
 
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Featured artists

Daniel Clowes
Kate Beaton
Gilbert Hernandez

          



  Two D&Q titles make Amazon's best 10 comics of the year thus far!

Updated September 11, 2013


"Amazon reveals its 10 best comics of the year - so far"

by Kevin Melrose
Comic Book Resources, June 24, 2013

Because it’s apparently never too early to get a jump start on best-of-the-year lists, Amazon.com has rolled out a rundown of the best comics and graphic novels of the year so far, led by Gilbert Hernandez’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story Marble Season (Drawn and Quarterly). Here’s the full Top 10, arranged according to sales:

1. Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido and others (Marvel)

2. Solo: The Deluxe Edition, by various (DC Comics)

3. Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 1: The God Butcher, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic (Marvel)

4. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley (First Second)

5. MIND MGMT, Vol. 1, by Matt Kindt and Brendan Wright (Dark Horse)

6. The Property, by Rutu Modan and Jessica Cohen (Drawn and Quarterly)

7. The Comics Journal #302, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

8. Marble Season, by Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn and Quarterly)

9. Iron: Or, the War After, by Shane-Michael Vidaurri (Archaia)

10. The Creep, John Arcudi, Scott Allie and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse)

The editors’ picks for the best of the year so far in each category can be found here.
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Featured artists

Rutu Modan
Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured product

The Property




The Guardian says Marble Season is a treat

Updated August 20, 2013


Marble Season by Gilbert Hernández – review

The Guardian, June 15, 2013

Gilbert Hernández isn't as well known in this country as some cartoonists. But in the US, where he has won just about every comics prize going, he's a Big Deal. According to Junot Diaz, the Pulitzer prize-winning hot dude novelist, Hernández should be "considered one of the greatest American storytellers. It's so hard to do funny, tragic, local and epic, and he does all simultaneously, and with great aplomb".

Hernández is the creator of Love and Rockets, a pioneering, genre-bending cartoon which he began writing with his brothers, Jaime and Mario, in the early 80s. Among the stories in Love and Rockets was Palomar, a magic realist saga which he finally completed in 1996 (the action takes place in a fictional South American village which modern technology has yet to reach). But Marble Season, his first full-length novel, could not be more different. It's semi-autobiographical, realist and excludes adult characters (parents and teachers remain firmly off stage). It reminds me of Peanuts, which must be intentional: the 60s was a golden age for Schulz's comic strip – some of his most beloved riffs made their first appearance then, including Snoopy as a first world war flying ace – and this is when Marble Season is set too.

Huey is a middle son growing up in suburban California; like his older brother, Junior, he's obsessed with comics and spends his time trying to bring their pages to life in his backyard. Through his eyes we observe his neighbourhood and the comings and goings of all the kids in it. What's amazing about the book is the way it reminds you that all childhoods are, to a degree, the same, irrespective of time and place. Everyone will recognise the loud kid who arrives on the street, shouts a lot and then disappears to a new school a few weeks later. Ditto the quiet girl who secretly swallows marbles, a weird hobby she only gives up when she finds herself in hospital.

Hernández is brilliant on the particular embarrassments of growing up (the moment, say, when an older boy points out how illogical some pretend game is, and the whole illusion suddenly falls apart), and on the way its disappointments, however trivial, linger into adulthood (Huey is devastated to find that his mother has mistaken his Mars Attacks cards, purloined from a bubble gum machine, for trash and thrown them away, and the reader knows instinctively that 40 years later he'll still be trying to replace them on eBay). I'm not sure the book needs the long, hectoring afterword that an academic called Corey Creekmur has provided. Does the publisher think we're too dim to get all the references? To realise that while nothing much happens, everything happens? But this is a quibble. Marble Season is a treat: beady, nostalgic and sometimes unexpectedly piercing.
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured product

Marble Season




  Marble Season in the Miami Herald

Updated June 25, 2013


Superheroes and terrific tales

Miami Herald, June 16, 2013

Marble Season. Gilbert Hernandez. Drawn and Quarterly. 128 pages. $21.95.

This lovely and evocative story is billed as semi-autobiographical. I’m sure it is. Most comic-collecting kids can still feel the lingering pain inflicted by a parent who casually tossed our prized collections. The accompanying sibling tensions and summer idylls add texture and nuance to the memories. Hernandez’s clean and artfully simple illustrations belie the depth of adolescent angst and yearning portrayed in this excellent and all-too-true reminiscence.

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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



Reverse Direction on Marble Season

Updated June 25, 2013


Book Review: Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez & Sunday in the Park With Boys by Jane Mai

Reverse Direction, June 10, 2013

Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn and Quarterly)

Sure, I have kids, but I can’t really know what it’s like to be one nowadays, I can only view the experience in others. It seems alien to me now, largely because the way kids consume entertainment is so much different than it was when I was a kid. That was a world of nothing at your finger-tips and never knowing what was coming until it came.

That’s the world that Hernandez’s Marble Season takes place — one of uncertainty not in the wider issues of life, but in the little ones. Like comics. They don’t come easy and you don’t always know what your few cents are going to buy you. Or trading cards. You may not get them all, no matter your best effort. Or other kids. The stereotypes that have become so common in kid culture depictions — and embraced within those cultures — didn’t quite exist yet. Any given kid could by anything — by making a friend, you never knew what you were going to get into.

It’s into this world that Hernandez offers a free form, neo-realist story about Huey, the middle kid in a family of three, obsessed with everything I mentioned before, plus his GI Joe doll — yeah, doll, they weren’t action figures in those days. Huey embraces comics and television and trading cards partially as a point of commonality with other kids — it’s something to talk about, measure your life by, it’s the capital of social interactions, it’s the one constant in a chaotic flow of friendships that come and go and change with hormones.

Some may ape Hernandez’s cartooning style, but no one’s ever mastered the finesse of his narratives — probably because no one’s ever presented comics with the same absorption of foreign film techniques, pacing, and more — Fellini, of course, but also think Rossellini and Godard — that Hernandez has always drenched his work in, making them often otherworldly.

This plays to perfection in Marble Season, because this is another world that Huey inhabits — at root, the concerns might be the same as any kid today, but the affectations are entirely alien, and childhood becomes a form of science fiction as weird as the monsters in the comics and movies that Huey obsesses about. Kids often live in societies separated from adults — the official worlds written about in history books and the subject of numerous documentaries — and no records are ever kept. That’s why a childhood 40 years ago can see so alien now. It feels like there’s no continuum, just something trapped in your own memory that you can’t express clearly to someone living it now.

That’s the sort of feeling one walks away from Marble Season with. You know Huey and his brothers and his friends, but they are lost in a different world that is no longer accessible. Nostalgia becomes something to grapple with, and Hernandez has shown that even when its only infected with the mundane, childhood haunts.
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured product

Marble Season




  Iowa Gazette reviews Marble Season

Updated June 25, 2013


Cartoonist creates beautiful novel

The Gazette, June 9, 2013

Instead of measuring time in days or months, children often mark time in episodes.

“My obsession with garage sales,” for example, or “my huge crush on Sam.” These periods might last a month. Or two years. However, when it comes to novels, these smaller episodes are often sacrificed for the sake of one larger, arcing storyline.

This is not the case in six-time Harvey award-winning cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez’s beautiful new graphic novel, “Marble Season,” which follows Huey, the middle of three siblings, through his life growing up in a California suburb in the 1960s. Instead of following one plot line, Hernandez plays it true to childhood and explores a series of episodes (or seasons). It’s powerful, moving, funny stuff. Because it’s all here: childhood obsessions and superstitions; the beginnings of love; the fear of big kids and strange neighbors; the joy of pretend. With his spare drawings and lyrical storytelling (think Little Lulu meets Peanuts), Hernandez maintains his status as one America’s great storytellers.

Not only does Hernandez beautifully capture the dialogue and interactions between children, he even captures the way they stand — and the way they stop and reflect on a moment. There is a sense of awe and wonder present in children that is often forgotten — or neglected — in adulthood. Hernandez has not forgotten, and his careful drawings and occasional open panels invite readers to pause and remember when each day was a new adventure, and anything could happen if you just said the word: “pretend.”
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured product

Marble Season




Gilbert Hernandez chats with The Quietus

Updated June 25, 2013


Love & Marbles: Gilbert Hernandez Interviewed

The Quietus, June 9th, 2013


Gilbert Hernandez’s new book Marble Season is the first of his graphic novels to be published by a mainstream book publisher, Faber & Faber. A semi-autobiographical tale, it tells the story of Gilbert and his brothers’ youth, portraying the realities of growing up in a large Mexican-American family in 1960s suburban California. Like the best indie movies, Hernandez’s graphic novel subtly explores the nuances of childhood and growing up, the importance of imagination, creativity and play, as well as how sometimes this kind of creativity gets squashed by parents, by educators, and even by other kids.

Marble Season’s publication by a respected book publisher like Faber is part of the current mainstreaming of comics culture that's been going on for the past 20 years or more, with comics artists increasingly being regular fixtures in art galleries, and graphic novels now being reviewed by mainstream newspapers. This mainstreaming has many positive aspects – with certain comic book creators finally gaining wider critical recognition as well as economic rewards, and a range of complex – and fun - artistic and literary works becoming available to the general public who might never venture into a comic book store but can now come across them in their local bookstore.

However, not everyone who encounters Marble Season on the bookshelves might know that Gilbert Hernandez is the co-creator, along with his brothers Jaime and Mario, of the ground-breaking and innovative alternative comics series Love and Rockets. Marble Season is just the latest addition to the prolific body of work he – and his brothers – have been producing since the early 1980s.

When the Hernandez Brothers self-published the first issue of Love and Rockets – it was the equivalent of a punk fanzine, but made up of all-original comics. It quickly caught the attention of Fantagraphics’ editor-in-chief Gary Groth who began publishing the series in 1981. Love and Rockets’ combination of punk rock sensibility, elements of sci-fi and fantasy, and remarkably human and complex characters and relationships garnered critical acclaim in the comics world and sometimes beyond. Fantagraphics has continued to publish the work of the Hernandez Brothers in various incarnations over the past thirty or so years. Currently Gilbert and Jaime together produce one 100-page Love and Rockets: New Stories once a year. The brothers also work on side-projects and Gilbert has been particularly prolific.

Gilbert is perhaps best-known for his Palomar stories. A kind of extended soap opera detailing the lives, loves, and interrelationships of a large cast of characters set in the South American village of Palomar. These tales feature such unforgettable characters as the vain and beautiful Pipo and her equally beautiful son, world-famous soccer star Sergio; party-girl Tonantzin whose political awakening sends her on a tragic trajectory, and fiery, hammer-wielding, voluptuous and promiscuous Luba who drags herself up from a terrifying past to become the Mayor of Palomar. The Palomar stories have extended their geographical scope, too, with Luba moving her family to Los Angeles and her life becoming intertwined with those of her half-sisters, the emotionally complex Fritz and Petra.

Gilbert too has extended his own scope and alongside the Palomar tales has created a range of other kinds of stories inspired by 'trashy' pop culture, monster movies, pornography, and surrealism, as well as very different stories about childhood, like The Adventures of Venus – starring Luba’s feisty but vulnerable, soccer-playing tweenage niece – and Marble Season itself.



Gilbert, it’s a pleasure to talk to you. Can you say something about how and why you started making comics?

Gilbert Hernandez: There were comics laying around the house when I was growing up and I took to the storytelling in them pretty strongly. I found simple truths in a lot of comics that I didn't see in films or TV.

I heard your Mother was a really big fan of comics and she got you and your brothers into them, is that right?

GH: Yes. In the 1940s my Mom read comic books, in fact she was pretty obsessed with them. Unfortunately her mother didn’t approve of them and got rid of them.

What kind of comic books did your Mom read?

GH: My Mom liked a lot of different comics but strangely the two she liked the best were the C.C. Beck Captain Marvel and Will Eisner’s The Spirit. Those were her two favourites, and me and my brothers first heard about these through our Mother talking about them, though we didn’t actually see those characters until they were reprinted in the 1960s.

Captain Marvel and The Spirit seem so different in terms of subject matter to what you and Jaime write about now, but would you say they had any kind of influence on you?

GH: Yes, they influenced us in terms of those artists’ approach to storytelling, how the artists and writers deal with the characters and stories. Both C. C. Beck’s Captain Marvel and Will Eisner’s The Spirit are well-told stories and that’s the strongest influence. We liked reading superhero comics, vampire comics, horror, crime, and though there’s not much in terms of those themes in what we do, the storytelling is there.

I also read that you and Jaime were really into the Archie comic books, which are often dismissed as being really juvenile. What interested you in them?

GH: Well, we liked reading the superhero comics too but what drew us to comics most were the kids’ comic books and especially the Archie comics. In fact, in the 1960s the Archie comics were actually more hip about rock & roll than the Marvel and DC comics were; the characters dressed and acted more like how real teenagers dressed.

I remember reading an Archie comic where the characters were debating different attitudes toward the Vietnam War, going to war versus being a 'peacenik', and although the overarching message was ultimately patriotic, I was surprised that there was this space in what we think of as a very 'kiddy' comic even to debate this. And it’s interesting that even now, in Archie Comics you have an openly gay character – Kevin Keller – being shown sharing a kiss with his boyfriend and though it’s not uncontroversial, showing gay characters kiss still seems to be more of a problem in the majority of superhero comics from Marvel and DC.

GH: That was really unavoidable in the 60s, even Archie comics couldn’t avoid talking about the Vietnam war. But with Kevin Keller too, I think part of the reason Archie Comics are maybe more able to deal with gay characters is because they’re sold in supermarkets and are geared toward a wider audience. And a lot of teenage girls look at Archie Comics, whereas the mainstream superhero comics are geared mainly towards adolescent boys who might be more threatened by gay characters.

You and your brothers never seem to have been threatened by gay characters, and both you and Jaime have included male and female gay characters in your comics. Why do you think you were so comfortable doing this, as heterosexual men?

GH: Well, for me it’s because of two things. First, it’s simply a reality. I’ve known gay people – men and women – since I was a young person. To me it’s just naturalistic and realistic to portray gay characters in a humanistic light. As a young man, I knew enough gay people as people not to fear them. On the other side of the coin, I like to irritate conservatives and homophobes. I love to do that. [laughs]



You said you found simple truths in comic books that you didn’t find in film and television… What kind of simple truths do you mean?

GH: Well, let me give you an example – the American Dennis The Menace strip which is different from your British Dennis The Menace. The British Dennis is a menace because he’s a crazy maniac. In the American strip, Dennis is a 5-year-old boy who doesn’t really understand anything, but keeps trying and ends up wrecking things because of his lack of understanding. That’s why he’s a menace. Owen Fitzgerald who drew a lot of the Dennis The Menace strips brought such a humanistic element to the drawings. The comics often used the same scripts as the Dennis The Menace TV show, but because of Owen Fitzgerald’s drawing, the comic book was so much better than the TV show and made the TV show seem awkward and fake. Because of the way he drew human beings, the comic book seemed much more truthful than TV, and I’d say that about a lot of comic books as opposed to TV and movies.

Is Owen Fitzgerald’s Dennis The Menace a big influence on you?

GH: Owen Fitzgerald might be number one on my list of influences in terms of how I want to draw people - their body language and their reactions to certain situations.

How about in terms of writing?

GH: I get bits and pieces from various comic books. Superhero comics had a lot of ‘shock value’ but I got a lot from Dennis and other kids’ comic books that deal with Christian family values. Even though my comics aren’t founded on Christian family values, because these kids’ comics are based around family values and very ordinary everyday life, that’s how I learned to write away from the 'shock value' of superhero comics. Though, I have to say, I loved superhero comics as well and I admired Stan Lee’s writing. But kids’ comic books – another example is Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, which was very humanistic in its writing, very simple and direct and that’s what I aspire to in my writing.

You are incredibly prolific and you have told a wide variety of different kinds of stories in a variety of different genres, from porn to surrealism to sci-fi to children’s stories. Why is this?

GH: I like doing whatever interests me. It's a challenge for me to try to make good comics out of any genre I tackle. I trust my instincts in getting me through the more difficult genres for modern readers, like violent crime or horror stories.

What is your favourite genre to tackle?

GH: People stories like in Palomar. I get to draw what I like to draw, basically people hangin’ around, and write very humanistic kinds of situations and characters. But I do also like to draw adventure stories – more in terms of drawing them than writing them – and letting my imagination go wild. But I think I’m done with the adventure stories for now. My audience likes the people stories the most and that’s what I want to concentrate on for now.

When you started Love And Rockets with your brothers did you ever imagine a ‘big’ book publisher like Faber & Faber would be interested in your work?

GH: I'm happy about it. I don't question good fortune.

How do you feel about the current ‘mainstreaming’ of comics culture? What are the positive aspects of this situation, and do you see any potential drawbacks?

GH: Since it can be very difficult to make a living making comics, I think a cartoonist is lucky to get that type of attention. If a good cartoonist can make a living making his comics, he'll continue to do that; the lesser insincere cartoonist that gets a lot of press will fall by the wayside eventually. And will probably be rich.

Could you talk about these rich and insincere cartoonists?

GH: [laughs] I can’t name names, but there are certain indie cartoonists who had a real knack for making their comics grab the attention of the mainstream, and have since stopped doing comics and instead work for HBO or work as screenwriters. Then again there have been some legitimate mainstream successes for indie cartoonists who passionately believe in what they’re doing and have had great luck. Matt Groening with The Simpsons and Daniel Clowes with Ghost World which was turned into a successful indie film.

Speaking of indie films, Marble Season reminds me of some of the best indie movies about everyday life. In many ways it reminds me of the subtlety of your other series about childhood, The Adventures of Venus. A lot of your comics – the Palomar and Luba stories, for example - contain a lot of emotional, sexual and violent drama - which isn't really evident in Marble Season. Why have you decided to shift the focus to the everyday and undramatic in this work?

GH: I simply hadn't done it in a while. I've been doing crime, horror and melodrama for so long now that I wanted to reconnect with readers that missed the more personal type comics I used to be known for. All of it is me; Marble Season is simply another part of me.

Comic books starring kids – like Peanuts and Dennis The Menace - often depict a very innocent and dream-like world. Marble Season, like your Venus stories, shows relationships between children as more complicated than this. A scene that struck me was when Huey and Patty have been playing and then Huey suddenly starts being quite nasty to her about preferring ‘Bozo’ to ‘Superman’; then Lana joins in and starts undermining Huey, but Patty seems to take Huey's side. It's really fascinating and there are scenes like this throughout the book. What do you think these kinds of interactions are all about?

GH: These are moments that happen in real life. Patty clearly likes Huey and is willing to tolerate his obliviousness in order to get close to him. Lana senses this and wants to spoil this connection because she's left out. Later in the story Lana decides to stop trying to wedge herself in between these types of connections by simply listening instead of spoiling things in the chance that someone might connect with her.

Your book also seems to explore the strange things that kids do - the girl who eats marbles and the weird rituals of the Mad Mad Mad Mad World Club. Are these based on real experiences and why do you think they were important to include in the story?

GH: The Mad Mad Mad Mad World Club is something that happened in real life. I just thought it was a funny bit for the story when I included it. Now that I think about it, I've always been interested in the way males seem to need to start clubs, or cults, to keep girls out until they need them for sex. It comes from some weird immature tribal crap, I'm sure.

So it was a real club?

GH: Yeah, the guy that ran it just has a weird sense of humour. He liked to put us through these chores and then he decided he wanted us to pelt him with water-balloons. I have no idea what was in his head, I’ve never asked and he probably doesn’t remember now!

What else in the book is drawn directly from your real experiences?

GH: The Captain America play, I did that. The imaginary movie 'Trapped Behind the Iron Curtain’. Collecting Mars Attacks cards and coming home to find my Mother had thrown them out. I still tease her about that now, those cards would be worth a lot today!



Your comics are very humanistic and deal with everyday life but – unlike the kids’ comics you mention – also often deal with sexuality. Why is sex often an important theme to explore for you?

GH: Sex is the main way we exist on the planet. It's an essential part of life.

I heard that you gave a talk a few years ago where you were critical of the way indie comics shy away from depicting sex as something enjoyable, and that indie comics seemed to have a strangely conservative approach to showing sex.

GH: Yes, I’m not sure how true that is now, but there was certainly a period of time when indie comics seemed to shy away from showing sex unless they wanted to show the embarrassment or difficulty of sex – which is all valid and certainly there can be embarrassments and disappointments in sex but that’s not the whole story. There hardly ever seemed to be stories about the joy of sex, and that’s what I thought was missing.

In your broader body of work you do seem keen on depicting the joys of sex.

GH: Yes, if it fits. Of course there are negative aspects to sex and relationships…

Many of your characters in the Love And Rockets and New Love stories seem to have pretty wild and active sex lives, Fritz for example…

GH: Yes but Fritz’s story is a depressing one. Underneath the fun she’s a sad person. But I don’t mean to imply this is a universal truth - that people who are having fun are always sad underneath the surface; that’s her story and that’s one character.

Your characters are complex and in your erotic comic book Birdland and in the Palomar stories and so on, you do show a range of sexual experiences which often do seem joyful. Why do you like to write about sex?

GH: The quick answer is that it's there, and I'm simply not afraid to talk about it. It's different for so many other people but it's never been a negative with me, only when somebody's tried to convince me that it's a bad thing.

Have you had negative criticisms for showing sex?

GH: Not really, I used to get people criticizing me for drawing so many women with gorgeous idealized bodies, but I pointed out that I draw a lot of men with muscular bodies, washboard abs, and enormous wangs, and they never got criticized. So those criticisms have stopped now! [laughs]

I’ve had similar criticisms for the way I draw women, but as you say, people rarely complain about the idealized men I draw. Is it easy for you to be thick-skinned about comments like that?

GH: If you believe in what you’re doing, and someone criticizes that, it’s likely that they’re just coming from a different place and they’re bringing their own baggage and it’s basically projection. I try not to let it get to me.

It sounds like you have a really good attitude toward it!

GH: But it took me 30 years to get here. [laughs]

Race, ethnicity, and gender are all really interesting aspects of the story as well - the Latino male characters seem at certain points to have a lot of power, as school bullies, over the white male characters. They seem to see themselves as more masculine and act out a certain macho masculinity. Why did you want to write about ethnicity?

GH: No heavy message; in my little neighborhood group of male friends, who were mostly Latino, there was never any talk of which kind of girl you could or could not like. It was in school or from someone I didn't know well that I would hear racist crap. If I liked a blonde girl with freckles, eyebrows were raised from the jerks. Immature cackling came with it, I recall.

Was it a struggle for you to keep hold of your creativity and sense of playfulness? Were you actively discouraged from pursuing comics by some of the adults and kids around you? Who encouraged you the most?

GH: I'm basically stubborn. If anyone disapproved of my being influenced by comics, I simply ignored them. If they didn't know where I was coming from with comics, then they didn't know. They weren't interested in anything that was more creative than comics. I don't hold sports or petty game playing as anything to hold higher than creativity. It wasn't easy maintaining my feelings about it because the opposition was always dominant. It was the actual writers and artists of the comics and films that I liked that gave me the most encouragement; more so than anyone I knew personally.

You’ve mentioned Owen Fitzgerald’s Dennis The Menace and the Archie Comics as influences, but I also detect Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko’s influence in your work.

GH: Oh yes, and you know I loved a lot of the DC superhero comics as well, especially stuff like Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. But Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, as well as Stan Lee – when they worked together they produced the foundation of what Marvel Comics is now. They were making good comics; it’s not a hoax!

I really love that even though you’re so famous as an alternative comics creator, you’re not shy about admitting to your love of superhero comics.

GH: Most people in my generation of alternative cartoonists grew up reading, and liking, superhero comics – that’s why we’re all here! I think it will be interesting in the future, with comics becoming more diverse and more accessible in the mainstream, there’s going to be people creating comics who never grew up reading superhero comics.

You said it was the writers and artists of the comics you liked who gave you the most encouragement in the past, what are your favourite new comics to read now?

GH: I hate to say it, but I keep going back to the work of my contemporaries, people like Charles Burns, Dan Clowes and Chester Brown. Even if they just put out one new book every few years, that’s what I get excited about. Chester Brown’s Paying For It was one of my most favourite recent graphic novels, twisted as it was. Because I’m working so much I don’t see the work of that many young cartoonists so it’s hard for me to tell which are my favourites. Maybe when I get to stick my head out of the sand I’ll be able to let you know.

So what’s next, what are you working on now?

GH: I’m finishing up Maria M., which is about Fritz and Luba’s mother. Fritz is playing her in a movie of her life within the story, and there’s going to be lots of sex and violence. [laughs]

Oh that’s good to hear. [laughs] When will we see that?

GH: Hopefully in November. I definitely want to get it out this year. So far this year my books Marble Season and Julio’s Day have come out and I think Maria M. will be a good book to end the year with.

Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season is out now, published by Faber & Faber

 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



  Canada Writes talks to Peggy Burns

Updated June 5, 2013


Caption This Comic Judge: Peggy Burns from Drawn & Quarterly

Canada Writes, June 3, 2013

Meet the judge of the Caption This Comic Challenge: Peggy Burns, the Associate Publisher of Drawn & Quarterly who has been keeping fanboys in check for over 10 years.

CW: What changes have you seen in the genre and the publishing side of the business since you started first at DC Comics, and then at Drawn & Quarterly?

PB: I started in comics in 2000 right before Persepolis, Jimmy Corrigan and David Boring transformed the entire industry for graphic novels. Over the past ten years, I have witnessed less of a reliance on stunts "let's review comics because there's a new Spiderman movie!" and comparisons "if you like Fun Home, you'll love this." Everyone from retailers to fans to press to librarians to professors now understand the depth and variety of the medium, and most importantly, that is it a medium with many genres.

CW: What characteristics make a manuscript jump out of the slush pile?

PB: We never, ever read scripts. We like to read fully formed comics. We mostly prefer to see mini-comics or pamphlets to truly read the cartoonist's storytelling abilities. For us the art and the words are one, and reading a script gives us no idea if we will like a comic. Most of the submissions that come to the office aren't in tune with our mission, it is more like the artist got out name off a website of comic publishers. We have published submissions, though, notably from Keith Jones of Toronto and Brecht Evens of Belgium. And reactions to their submissions were immediate. We received the package, opened it, were completely floored by their ability and immediately made plans to publish them. Otherwise, we rely on shows like TCAF in Toronto, Expozine in Montreal and SPX in Bethesda MD to look for new artists with new minicomics. (Minicomics are self-published comics, similar to zines.)

CW: You work with a lot of well-known comics artists. Are they different from other people? Is there any truth to the “comic-book-nerd” stereotype?

PB: Maybe in mainstream comics, you'll find a lot of Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, but not in independent comics. You may be surprised to know how well adjusted and fashionable our artists are! It is true that cartoonists would rather just be working, and it is hard for them to be away from their drawing tables for a long period of time. And because they are often alone most of the day, we do often have to convince them to come out to do events, tours, festivals and press. I do think our artists turn down invitations more often than not!

CW: What is it that you love most about your job?

PB: I have been at D+Q for ten years, and I feel honored to be able to promote the work of the world's best cartoonists. The best thing is just being wowed every time you read a comic. I just read Palookaville 21 by Seth. Seth has been mostly working in fiction recently but this time, he shares stories from his youth, and you can see how his upbringing affects his art, which is similar to the book we just published by Gilbert Hernandez, Marble Season, but in opposite directions. Reading the comics just never, ever fails to knock you off your feet. Last Fall, I read an advance of our February 2013 graphic novel Susceptible by Genevieve Castree and I was sincerely moved by Genevieve's ability to tell her childhood story with a gentle and humorous yet serious touch, a careful balance not many authors can do with memoirs. Maybe the best example of being able to still be awe-struck is Building Stories by Chris Ware.
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Featured artists

Seth
Gilbert Hernandez
Geneviève Castrée

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Palookaville 21
Susceptible




Gilbert Hernandez talks to the Daily Telegraph about Marble Season

Updated June 5, 2013


"Gilbert Hernandez on Marble Season, his latest graphic novel"

By Tim Martin
The Telegraph, June 3, 2013

Gilbert Hernandez’s graphic novel Marble Season, a winsome and quietly comic story of three Mexican-American brothers growing up in the United States in the Sixties, may well be the most surprising thing its creator has done to date. Not because it’s good – although this gently observed portrait of an adult-free world, drawn in an expressive style that pays homage to the Archie comics and the Peanuts strip, certainly is – but because it’s about the last thing you would have seen coming from this cartoonist.

To lovers of alternative comics, Hernandez is something of a saint, the co-creator with his brother Jaime of the intermittent Love and Rockets magazine that, since 1981, has mixed Jaime’s stories of Latino life in contemporary California with Gilbert’s cross-generational tales of the sleepy central American town of Palomar. Astute, adult and fearsomely observant, Love and Rockets is routinely cited as one of the most intelligent and influential of contemporary comics. In recent years, however, Gilbert has cultivated a more Tarantinoesque mould, creating schlocky, grindhouse-influenced genre comics stuffed with stalkers, gangsters and bloody murders that all “star” a recurring character, the promiscuous Z-list actress Fritz. From there to the soft-focus charms of Jet Age America is quite a leap, I suggest to him over a Skype line to his home in Las Vegas. What happened?

“Yeah,” he says. “Dr Jekyll wants to talk now. Mr Hyde, you go take a rest.” He laughs. “I’d been doing too many zombies and too much horror and crime,” he continues, “and I wanted to back off and do something pleasant. But I thought, can I do a pleasant story? And the only pleasant story I have is good memories from childhood. I wanted to connect to readers in a more genial way.”

Family was another inspiration. “I thought: what kind of book can I do that’s authentic to what I do, but that my daughter can read?” Hernandez’s daughter is 12, a little young for the zombie splatter of his Fatima: The Blood Spinners or the sexually omnivorous pornography of Birdland. “I thought I’d put myself into Marble Season,” Hernandez says, “but it wasn’t going to have all those things that my daughter can’t look at, or I don’t want her to look at. I wanted to live up to a lot of the good response I’ve had in the past, but put that effort into something that’s, let’s say, clean. For want of a better word.”

The focus of Marble Season is Huey, the enthusiastic, observant, comics-obsessed middle child of three who acts as a proxy for Hernandez’s own memories. It’s not quite autobiography, he says, “but 75 per cent of the book is things that happened, not necessarily to me”. Much of the story’s charm comes from how astutely Hernandez catches the life-or-death importance of totally insignificant events in a child’s life, but there are moments of surprising, almost surreal profundity as well. One sequence, he explains, even represents “my first realisation of what death was. I was four or five years old and I saw a little dead bird; I guess the beak had broken off, and it looked like a miniature baby to me. I remember freaking out, and my older brother came and calmed me down. ‘I’m sorry he’s dead,’ he said. And I said, ‘What’s that? What are you talking about? That doesn't happen to babies!’ I remember obsessing about it.”

Although Marble Season seems a radical departure, Hernandez sees balance and change as essential to his creative process. “My personality is all in my comics, and my personality is all over the place,” he explains. “I’m not a trained technical artist. It’s all visceral and it just comes up – it’s where my brain is that morning when I get up.” It is this desire to experiment – he has complained in the past about being expected to be “a do-gooder cartoonist” – that led to his other ongoing project, the noirish, over-the-top Fritz books.

“In those, I’m thinking about how far the underground cartoonists had gone,” he says, “in particular S Clay Wilson and Robert Crumb. Wilson was criticised as a crazy person in his day, but now he’s one of the grand old artists of the underground. I haven’t even gone as far as Crumb, and yet he’s an American icon. I want to push myself, in a way, so my imagination goes crazy with inventive horror.”

Nor is Marble Season his only publication in what’s shaping up to be a busy year. “After this I’m going to have a collection called Children of Palomar,” he says, “which is going to put me back in the ‘Gilbert Hernandez is doing what he’s supposed to be doing’ thing. But what I’m working on now is the next Fritz book, where I get to push myself over the top with gangsters and all that stuff.” He laughs with relish. “I’m going to ruin my reputation as being a serious cartoonist again.”
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured product

Marble Season




  Lia Hanawalt and Gilbert Hernandez's latest reviewed in the Chicago Tribune

Updated June 5, 2013


"Lisa Hanawalt's visions: Michael Robbins reviews 'My Dirty Dumb Eyes' and Gilbert Hernandez's latest"

By Michael Robbins
Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2013

I totally hate Lisa Hanawalt. I hate anyone who's funnier than I am and can draw Anna Wintour holding a dead rat in her teeth. Gathering one-page gags (dinosaur Jeff Goldblum) and more thoughtful pieces that answer questions like "What if a high-heeled moose made fingers out of clay?" the Brooklyn cartoonist's debut collection is the most exciting and inventive comics art to appear since the ancient Egyptians invented hieroglyphics. People are always saying that something made them LOL, but did it really? "My Dirty Dumb Eyes" did. Only Kate Beaton's "Hark! A Vagrant" (2011), among recent comics, even approaches the hilarity of Hanawalt's most inspired bits.

Some of these pieces appeared previously in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review and other publications, which is good, because Hanawalt is clearly unfit for ordinary employment. She puts the N in NSFW. I want to describe to you the watercolor of flowers and red, erect penises, but I have no English. Or the drawing of a sex fantasy inspired by the film "Point Break" — can I say "labia" in this paper?

But it's the illustrated movie reviews that I love the most. Hanawalt, a professed "ape hater," goes to see "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" with her "monkey-loving boyfriend" and takes notes: "This audience is so pro-ape from the start"; "The boss character, Jacobs, just shouted, 'I run a business, not a petting zoo!' Hey, petting zoos are totally a business"; "Jacobs has all the best lines. 'You know everything about the human brain, except how it works.' That's such a burn to a scientist. How brains work is 99% of what there is to know about brains!"

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The review of "War Horse" (she's "bummed" that it "isn't a horse version of 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'") is even better, since Hanawalt loves to draw horses so much that it's a little creepy. This review makes me want to go see a movie with Lisa Hanawalt, although not necessarily one that I care about: "The woman sitting in front of me keeps falling asleep and I want to yell 'Hey Snore Horse!' so bad I'm in physical pain."

The death of one of the horses in "War Horse" gives Hanawalt "feelings diarrhea," and that's what I have after reading her book. My feelings are flowing out of me, and they are feelings of "OK, I love this book so much I want to give it to people I hate, like Bashar al-Assad." It's hard to describe the appeal of the art — Hanawalt's mastered several styles, including ones I call "deliberately awkward and stiff art-school portfolio" and "smooth psychedelic." She seems to have spent a lot of time staring at Raymond Pettibon's record covers. One story is an excuse for her to draw a gorgeous horse on an airplane with eggs and birds gushing from its eyes. Come to think of it, she could make some bank designing posters for metal bands. Almost every page needs to be lingered over. And we should not discount the larger philosophical import of "My Dirty Dumb Eyes," which teaches us that if dogs could shoot tiny dog-piloted helicopters out of their eyes, the world would be a better place.

•••

Gilbert Hernandez and his brother Jaime have been lighting up critics' eyes with "Love and Rockets" since 1981. While Jamie concentrated on disaffected punks living in a Hispanic suburb of L.A., Gilbert's stories, set in a fictional Latin American town called Palomar, drifted in bleached squares under Gabriel García Márquez's spell — a dreamlike cauldron of brujas and crucifixes and turmoil. In his stand-alone solo works like "Chance in Hell" (2007) and "Speak of the Devil" (2008), Gilbert squirmed into the seamy stuff of B-movies and uneasy David-Lynchian non sequitur: orphans in junkyards, devil-masked peeping toms, nuns who say things like, "If the Babykiller hears about the quicksand pit, he'll have no trouble getting rid of the bodies now. But for him, part of the fun is when the body is found."

So it's something of a surprise to find Hernandez mining "Peanuts" and "Archie" for the new "Marble Season," a quasi-autobiographical account of a kid named Huey and his friends growing up in a California suburb. Huey is devoted to comic books and his older brother, and the book's episodic narrative is so low-key and sunny that it seems slight. Hernandez has a charming grasp of childhood's alien concerns. He remembers the sweet earnestness with which children devote themselves to activities like collecting cheap Martian trading cards or teaching their younger brothers how to understand comic books. But there's nothing at stake in Huey's story besides the overly familiar drama of bullies and girls, the disasters of accidentally trashed comic collections and broken action figures. Pleasant enough stuff, but minor. You get the sense that Hernandez isn't playing to his strengths.

Gilbert has always been a less nuanced artist than his brother Jaime — his characters have a tendency to stand with their arms stiffly at their sides like zombies — but he brings a quiet mastery to his spare panels, with their quick-stroked skies and exaggerated facial expressions. You can see his influence in the work of younger cartoonists like Jeff Smith and Kevin Huizenga. The best panels here involve the registration of slight changes — a baseball bat being smashed against the ground, two children's agitated reaction to another kid's claim that his name is Satan ("He shouldn't joke like that; he shouldn't —"; "I - I know, what if he had a heart attack instantly after he said that?!"). But often the material doesn't give Hernandez much to work with, and people just stand around or walk by, with their arms at their sides.

Like "Peanuts" and "Calvin and Hobbes," "Marble Season" hymns unstructured childhood days, but it could use more structure.
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Featured artists

Gilbert Hernandez
Lisa Hanawalt

           Featured products

Marble Season
My Dirty Dumb Eyes




Marble Season reviewed on Slate

Updated June 5, 2013


"The Book Reader: 'Julio's Day', 'Marble Season'"
By Dan Kois
Slate, May 24, 2013

More than 30 years ago, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez created "Love and Rockets", one of the first great titles of the comix revolution that transformed cartoons from cheap pulp entertainment to the rich art form they are today. The Hernandez brothers are still working, expanding their "Love and Rockets" stories but also creating fresh new comics for new readers to discover.

This month, Gilbert Hernandez - Beto, as he's known - has two books out from two different publishers. They're both great, and they're great introductions to Los Bros Hernandez for those of you who've been intimidated by their 30-plus years of work....

....Drawn and Quarterly has just published "Marble Season", a charming book about Beto's childhood as a second-generation immigrant in Oxnard, California.

Just like in the Peanuts cartoons that inspired the look and feel of this book, adults are absent from this world. It's a town made of kids, who watch TV, fight, play make-believe and mete out justice when necessary. If you've ever been a kid with a crush, or a kid who made a new friend, or a kid who can't believe the injustice of the world, you'll love "Marble Season".
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured product

Marble Season




  HazLit on Gilbert Hernandez's Marble Season

Updated June 4, 2013


The Eternal Youth of Gilbert Hernandez

By Chris Randle
Hazlit, May 9, 2013

Gilbert Hernandez’s graphic semi-memoir Marble Season establishes a mood, a pace, a landscape, an era and a focal point with its very first image: a young boy wandering past new ranch houses and vintage telephone poles, the sky above suggesting clouds by their absence, the pamphlet captivating him semiotically labeled “COMICS.” The setting is an unnamed, racially mixed American suburb of the 1960s (kind of like Oxnard, California, where Hernandez grew up) and the child Huey is a Chicano pulp obsessive (kind of like Hernandez). Our Greek chorus might be the young woman sashaying around in cat’s-eye glasses, or more specifically her radio: “You can’t hurry love / No, you just have to wait…”

Los Bros Hernandez, Gilbert and Jaime, have now been drawing the foundational alternative-comics series Love & Rockets for over thirty years. They’re complementary rather than collaborators. Jaime seems to overshadow his older at times, because the latter’s line is rougher, less immediate in its stylishness, as discursive as his stories. (For someone who so often writes about punks or ex-punks, Jaime Hernandez is a factory of beautiful compositions, and people.) But Beto’s relative lack of devotion to his central characters allows for all kinds of startling experiments. His bibliography includes both a sweetly filthy porn comic (Birdland, where everybody exchanges genders midway through) and an all-ages series starring an intergalactic girl group (Yeah!, written by Peter Bagge). Marble Season veers in yet another direction: it’s a book about children, immersed in the rhythms of childhood, filtered through adult perspectives.

There’s not much of a plot, quite by design. Huey plays marbles, concocts imaginatively disorganized games, describes Silver Age comics to his little brother, struggles to comprehend the tentative crushes older kids have begun nursing. Friendships are mercurial, deepening or parting for obscure reasons, although fights never seem to end them. Hernandez renders the distantly familiar haze with formal rigour: every single page beyond that first one is an identical six-panel grid, and their backgrounds, clean, airy, and indistinct, resemble the ominous un-places from his other recent work, yet now they feel open instead of alienating. Walking through one of these environments, Huey tells his friend Patty: “I hate overcast days. It’s like the end of the world or something.”

In Marble Season, adults exist at one remove, just beyond the frame’s edge. Ascribe to that the absence of several Beto tropes: sudden violence, horrifying yet deadpan; the women with names and proportions like Russ Meyer protagonists, “furiously sexy women,” in Angela Carter’s words, “who might have come undulating straight out of the crudest kind of male fantasy if they didn't pack such big punches.” (Sexuality suffuses most of his major characters, in the sense that it’s a defining aspect of their personalities, and also in that, looking at them, one understands why.) But Hernandez also has a master formalist’s command of time – the story “Love & Rockets X” famously ends with sixty-ish panels depicting sixty-ish difference scenes – which he uses here to evoke childhood’s unhurried, ever-shifting present. In Marble Season, it always seems to be a sunny mid-afternoon.

One sequence sticking with me: the tomboy Lana Diaz, teasing Huey’s older brother Junior, realizes that her oblique target might be sweet on “a super stuck up white girl.” They argue about it, the lines around them quavering. She picks up her omnipresent baseball bat and smashes until it resembles an abstracted comet. The next time we see Lana, she’s wearing an immaculate party dress. It’s a sad, pained moment, the kind where you can’t tell what it will eventually be felt as, a trauma or a faint-smiling joke. But her elliptical reasoning was only holding to the peculiar logic of childhood, and of Marble Season.
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12-year old blogger reviews Marble Season

Updated June 4, 2013


Marble Season

By Milo Kotis
May 5, 2013

Today I will be reviewing a book called "Marble Season" by Gilbert Hernandez. It reminders me of Peanuts, without the super mature kids. It's about a young boy named Huey, and his older brother, Junior, and his baby brother, Chavo. The cool thing about Marble Season is how Huey's experiences are based on the author's experiences. I learned this in a live interview with Gilbert Hernandez at Housing Works Bookstore Café.

For example, when Huey tried to put on a play about Captain America, but nobody liked their roles, this is based on something that happened to Gilbert Hernandez. One of my favorite scenes is when Huey and his brothers are throwing water balloons at each other with an older friend, then the friend's brother comes out and puts him in a chokehold, I'm not sure if this actually happened or not, but it seemed very realistic.

One thing I noticed was that Marble Season wasn't a story with a beginning, middle and end. It was all just little things that happened to Huey and his brothers. Some things were as simple as Huey finding a rare bubble gum card or playing marbles with his friends. One other thing that I didn't notice at first was that everything takes place in Huey's neighborhood. He's never shown when he's at school or on a trip. It's always when he's outside playing or inside reading comics.

I remember another thing from when I went to see Gilbert Hernandez's talk, he said that in the 60's, parents were only there to spoil your fun. He also said that old ladies with horn rimmed glasses ran the show. As I'm sure you know, it's quite different now.

The art in Marble Season seems very pen drawn. I also like how everybody from each family looks alike. Like how Huey and Junior have the same eyes and nose. I also really like the expressions of the characters. In one part, Chavo finds a dead baby bird. He reacts the same way a real child would. He acts surprised when he notices it, looks at it sadly, then walks away.

Marble Season is really fun to read. It's completely appropriate for anyone. It has very sweet and lovable characters. If you like Peanuts then you will most likely like Marble Season. If you grew up in the 60's, Marble Season will make you feel nostalgic....
 
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  USA Today Highlights Marble Season for Free Comic Book Day

Updated June 4, 2013


"Free Comic Book Day: Ten Books to Pick Up Tomorrow"

USA Today, May 3, 2013

....Marble Season (Drawn & Quarterly). D&Q's second FCBD offering is more for adult fans who are interested in checking out Gilbert Hernandez's new graphic novel of the same name. The book also features an excellent essay about Marble Season and the legacy of the Hernandez brothers....
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The Comic Pusher on Gilbert Hernandez's "tone poem," Marble Season

Updated June 4, 2013


"The Poetry of Childhood: Gilbert Hernandez's Marble Season"

by Jeffrey O. Gustafson
The Comic Pusher May 2, 2013

The Year of Beto continues. Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez came out last week from Drawn & Quarterly, and it is another brilliant book from the Love and Rockets creator. Ostensibly an autobiographical work, the novel is not a comprehensive retelling of his life and career or even a specific short period from his life, but a plotless tone-poem about the little moments that represent the very experience of childhood.

Hernandez presents the novel as a roman a clef, with the central character Huey representing Gilbert (and his brothers Mario and Jaime represented by Junior and Chavo, respectively). His decision to give the proceedings a fictionalized veneer is more rooted in the work's grander purpose as a meditation about childhood rather than an autobiography about Gilbert's specific childhood (though it's that, too). Though rich in cultural and historical details from his childhood in Oxnard, California in the 1960s, fictionalizing the proceedings gives Hernandez free reign to tell the story without necessarily worrying about the specific factuality of the story (because how specific can anyone get about events from the time they were ten years old forty or fifty years after the fact?).

Hernandez's illustration style here is ever so slightly different from his previous work. Gilbert has drawn children many times before, notably throughout his Palomar-Luba cycle. But where the style there was reflective of the maturity of the work (even in the all-ages Venus comics), his style here seems to take cues from brother Jaime's almost whimsical flashback stories. To say that the work is "cute" seems to pigeonhole it into a category it doesn't belong, but there is definitely a quality of inspired charm to his cartooning.

There is no plot, no central conflict driving the story, though there are threads woven throughout that come along, drift away, and come back (or not). The story (such as it is) ambles and wanders among the moments and feelings of Hernandez's childhood, and by extension every childhood. There are comic books and games of marbles and neighbors on the stoop; big brothers helping make a Captain America shield, and little brothers never really talking but chilling out and meandering around; stickball and girls and secret clubs and more comics and fights in the alley; there are bullies and the "Beatos" on the radio and making muscles like the ads in the comics and dunking G.I. Joe in the sink; and more comics and plays about comics and teevee shows about comics; trading baseball cards for Mars Attacks cards and elaborate games of pretend and new neighbors fleeting in and out; and discussions about Captain Marvel and Godzilla and what it would be like to be grown up. So unlike Gilbert Hernandez, the work doesn't have a pervasive sense of dread or the weird, but a sense of wonder and the awesome power of the possible and the lack of responsibility where the toughest decision is what comic to read today.

This is an enchanting, absorbing work, a window into the childhood experience. Build into this handsomely designed hardcover is a space-time machine, a portal to Gilbert's past and to all of our pasts and to the present of every kid who is, ever was, and ever will be.

 
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  The New York Times takes a look at Marble Season

Updated June 4, 2013


"Graphic Books Best Sellers: The Wonder of Childhood"

By George Gene Gustines
New York Times, May 3, 2013

“Marble Season,” by Gilbert Hernandez, arrives at No. 2 on our hardcover graphic books best-seller list this week. Mr. Hernandez is better known for his work on “Love and Rockets,” a critically acclaimed independent comic book series that he worked on primarily with his brother Jaime (and occasionally with their brother Mario). Confession time: “Love and Rockets” is beloved by many, but the parts of the sprawling tale that I’ve read have left me cold. “Marble Season” had the opposite effect. In this semi-autobiographical tale, Mr. Hernandez captures the wonder of childhood — the joy of imagination, an appreciation for comic books and all the ultimately petty but seemingly world-shattering trials and tribulations of friendships during that time in one’s life. The 120-page story is told in six-panel grids that reminded me of Sunday newspaper comic strips, which I devoured in my youth. “Marble Season” is published by Drawn & Quarterly.

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Gilbert Hernandez on KNPR

Updated June 4, 2013


"'Love And Rockets' Comics Writer Gilbert Hernandez Talks 'Marble Season'"

KNPR, May 3, 2013

Gilbert Hernandez is known for his long running "Love and Rockets" comic book series, but his new book is a semi-autobiographical depiction of life as a ten-year-old kid in the 1960's. Gilbert Hernandez joins us to talk about his new book "Marble Season."
 
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  Letting It Go and Marble Season get raves on Comic Book Resources

Updated June 4, 2013


"A Month of Wednesdays: ‘Unico,’ ‘Marble Season’ and more"

by J. Caleb Mozzocco
Comic Book Resources, May 2, 2013

Letting It Go (Drawn and Quarterly): When we last saw Miriam Katin, it was in the pages of her We Are On Our Own, her 2006 graphic memoir about how she and her mother survived the Holocaust, hiding out from the Nazis in the Hungarian countryside. Her new memoir continues that story, by skipping ahead to her current life as a middle-aged artist living in New York City and harboring the deep and bitter prejudices against a city, a country and a people that her childhood understandable instilled in her.

The subject matter is awfully heavy, but it’s presented quite lightly — this is a fun, funny comic about a grown woman coming to terms with the irrational prejudices and bias born of the irrational prejudice and biases of others.

When we meet the Miriam of Letting It Go, she and her husband are seemingly living an idyllic artistic life, he in a room playing his clarinet, she procrastinating starting to draw something. When her grown son says he wants to move to Berlin, she reacts negatively instinctively, and gradually comes to terms with it, visiting him in Berlin, and then returning a second time almost immediately in order to see some of her art hanging at a show there, learning the word vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past) and how to start doing it … if not how to pronounce it.

Katin’s graphic novel is border-less, the “panels” implied ones formed by the consecutive, often overlapping images, giving the artwork a winding, rhythmic flow that moves over the pages like water. That and the somewhat-sketchy nature of the art, in which you can see each and every line that goes into the drawings, gives the book an incredibly intimate feel, as if a reader has simply discovered Katin’s sketchbook, rather than something mass-produced.

In addition to a highly personal story with an almost alarmingly fearless sense of sharing (if I were to ever shit a hotel bed, for example, I doubt I’d tell anyone, let alone draw a four-page sequence of it in a book), with pages of a carnet de voyage embedded within, Letting It Go is full of flights of fancy, including animals making asides, a sequence in which Katin assigns dialogue to the pigeons she’s watching out her window to explain their seemingly random behavior and an explanation of the big bedbug outbreak in New York a few years back.

I read a lot of great new graphic novels this month, some of which are discussed in this post, several more of which aren’t, but this may be the greatest not simply because of the skill with which it was created, but also because of its important personal/univeral subject matter, its deft handling of it and the unexpected, surprise-like nature of its high-quality. I mean, Tezuka or someone with the surname Hernandez producing a really great graphic novel is just par for the course, right? But Katin is still (relatively) new at this particular format, and she’s produced another must read that I suspect many comics readers might not have known they must read, but, believe me, they must.

Marble Season (Drawn and Quarterly): As a critic, I generally dislike assessments of works that posit them as the mathematical result of adding two other works together. You know, like saying “Graphic Novel X is Comic Y meets Comic Z” or whatever. However, in the case of Gilbert Hernandez’s new semi-autobiographical graphic novel, there’s one so accurate that I find it impossible to resist.

Hernandez’s Marble Season is Love and Rockets meets Peanuts.

It isn’t just that the book is focused on children and the minor tragedies, triumphs and, above all, humorous anecdotes that occur in their day-to-day lives. Nor is it that it’s set in the 1960s, and thus is a nostalgic look at a childhood of a particular vintage that may be as alien to many of its readers as the world of Charlie Brown and his pals could be to post-baby boomers reading those comics for the first time in Fantagraphics’ collections. Nor is it that Hernandez rather studiously avoids putting any adult character on-panel, despite that the parents of the children are often just off-panel.

It’s also that Marble Season, although a graphic novel with a clear narrative arc, is presented almost episodically, as if it were occurring in semi-staccato strips. Each page or so is an anecdote of its own, and while the story continues from anecdote to anecdote, the book feels a bit like a comic strip collection, too.

It stars Huey, the middle of three brothers, as he navigates a large cast of child characters of various ages, the youngest being his little brother Chavo, who can’t yet speak, the oldest being teenagers who are coming of age and beginning to notice the opposite sex. All live in the same neighborhood, and all cross paths more or less constantly, like actors in a stage play.

The childhood of marbles, 12-cent comics, collectible bubble gum cards and transistor radios that Hernandez captures is that of my parents, rather than my own, but I’ll be damned if this book didn’t make me nostalgic for their nostalgia....
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Gilbert Hernandez on Dinner Party Download

Updated June 4, 2013


"Episode 200: Noah Baumbach, David Alan Grier, and Kids Comix"

By Jackson Musker
American Public Media, May 9, 2013

This week: Filmmaker Noah Baumbach on the new New York… David Alan Grier answers (most of) your etiquette questions… Autism pioneer Temple Grandin diagnoses Mr. Spock… Travel writer Matt Gross goes to the edge… “Love & rockets” co-creator Gilbert Hernandez on ’60s comics that were super, sans superheroes… Why guilt is good (for groceries)… and we toast folk-hero Colonel Blood with a tipple from London. Plus: the caveman lexicon, and a song from Savages.

....Since debuting in 1982, alternative comic book Love and Rockets influenced a generation to think outside the traditional superhero mold. Gilbert Hernandez, the series’ co-creator (along with his brother), has been called “one of the great craftsmen of modern comics,” by The New York Times. His new graphic novel, Marble Season, tells a semi-autobiographical story about growing up in the 1960s; he sketches out a few kids comics from that era that influenced him.

Little Archie Comics, Bob Bolling
Dennis The Menace, Owen Fitzgerald
Other kid-comics of the era, including Little Dot
 
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  Gilbert Hernandez interviewed on Q with Jian Ghomeshi

Updated June 4, 2013


"Legendary Cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez"

CBC Radio, May 10, 2013

Alt-cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez is the co-creator, along with his brothers Jaime and Mario, of the long-standing and revolutionary comic Love and Rockets. His new book, Marble Season, is a sweet and heartfelt look at childhood and a departure from his previous work. Hear him talk about this different direction, his relationship with critics and how punk empowered him to create groundbreaking characters.
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Marble Season deemed a "very good story" by Diversions Journal

Updated June 4, 2013


"Reviewed: Julio’s Day and Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez."

By Allison Schulz
Diversions Journal, May 7, 2013

In April Gilbert Hernandez released not one but two beautiful new graphic novels, Julio’s Day and Marble Season.

....A very cool story of the experience of young Huey and the escapades he gets into with his brothers and his friends in their neighborhood.

Marble Season is partly based on the authors own life.

Huey’s boyhood love for fun and fiction shine through the pages of this graphic novel. Caught between worlds- of an older brother and a younger brother, Huey adores writing and acting out stories and is always reading comic books. His character is multifaceted, however, and he gets into some trouble both as a boy and as a creative soul. He hits roadblocks and makes some poor decisions– albeit pretty innocently– throughout.

There’s something in this book that induces a sharp nostalgia for a return to the feeling of childhood innocence. It is quite an indulgence to put yourself in that mode and explore the story through that lens.

Pro: Another great hardcover book, with a thorough afterword by Corey K. Creekmur from the University of Iowa and a “detailing of pop culture references” page that Hernandez has constructed.

Pro: Safe for younger or more conservative audiences, as opposed to most other Hernandez works.

Con: This book left a good impression on me, but the subject just wasn’t as interesting to me as I think it will be for others, especially guys!

Con: I’d loved to have seen Hernandez use some color in this book! At least we got the cool covers out of the two books.
 
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  Marble Season is Peanuts grown up, says The Globe and Mail

Updated June 4, 2013


"Why Comic Artist Gilbert Hernandez is Poised to Migrate into the Mainstream"

By Jeet Heer

Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, May. 10 2013, 4:00 PM EDT
Last updated Friday, May. 10 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

Official American culture is a monochromatic façade behind which hides a much more colourful reality. The school-sanctioned story of America is defined by the familiar national myth of westward travel: the Pilgrim fathers braving the Atlantic, the slow growth of settlements from New England into the interior, the epic migration across the Great Plains to the Pacific.

Like many satisfying tales, this account has a kernel of truth but leaves out more than it says. It’s a story with no room for those who came to America from other routes, such as the native Americans, whose ancestors most likely came across the Bering Strait in a colder epoch, the African Americans, whose link to the Old World is through the Middle Passage rather than Plymouth Rock or Ellis Island, and the Latinos, whose gateway to America has taken them northward rather than westward.

Gilbert Hernandez, who this spring publishes two new books, is one of the great artists of the other America, the country that is only fitfully and incompletely acknowledged by cultural custodians. For more than three decades, he has been writing and drawing an epic cycle of comic-book stories that give us a new geography of American culture by showing us the waves of migration that tie states like California and Texas to their Spanish-speaking southern neighbours.

At the heart of Hernandez’s life’s work are stories of the small fictional town of Palomar, located “somewhere south of the U.S. border.” At first, Palomar seems like a magic realist Latino shtetl, an organic community of midwives and witches where people are poor but vital. But through the course of the Palomar cycle, Hernandez overturned the clichés of magical realism by showing that Palomar is as much a part of the modern world as anywhere else. The grandchildren of the original Palomarians live in Los Angeles and elsewhere. They struggle with racism and sexual identity, problems that bedevil their ancestral town as well.

Without being agitprop, the Palomar stories are among the most naturally multicultural works ever created in any medium. Hernandez’s characters come in all different shades from many backgrounds. The constant fusion of cultural identities in Hernandez’s many graphic novels is one of the best depictions we have of the new America that is being born under the shadow of the official national narrative.

While the richness of Hernandez’s narratives has often been compared to that of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, his visual storytelling calls to mind the frothy pleasures of such iconic comics as Archie and Peanuts. He has covered the migratory patterns of the Palomarians in a string of stories first serialized in periodical form in the comic book Love and Rockets (which also contained the work of his brothers Jaime and Mario Hernandez) and subsequently gathered in graphic novels such as Poison River and Human Diastrophism.

Gilbert Hernandez is a very great artist, but he can also be an intimidating one for new readers. The Palomar cycle extends over many graphic novels, featuring scores of characters whose stories unfold in thousands of pages. While Hernandez has done non-Palomar work, it tends to be more experimental or genre-inflected than his core achievement.

Which is what makes his two new books such welcome arrivals. They are stand-alone volumes that offer interested readers an inviting entry point into this crucial cartoonist’s work. Neither book deals with Palomar, but both distill Hernandez’s key concerns.

Julio’s Day is a portrait of Julio Reyes, a Mexican American born in a rural town in 1900 whose life spans the century. A cautious homebody who carefully conceals his sexual identity, Julio experiences the changes of the world largely through news heard from his extended family and his friends. While it’s easy to dismiss Julio as a stick-in-the-mud, his rootedness in his family and village provides a vantage point for gauging the ethnic, political and sexual upheavals of the past century. The specificity of Julio’s own covert sexuality serves as springboard for a wide-ranging exploration of the burdens and pleasure of family life.

While Julio’s Day traces the journey from cradle to grave, Hernandez’s other new book, Marble Season, is about one crucial stage in that trip: the aimless cusp of time right before adolescence kicks in. Set in a lower-middle-class multiracial Southwestern suburb in the early 1960s, Marble Season is a wonderfully evocative account of a group of kids for whom popular culture (comic books, Wacky Packages trading cards, horror movies) serve as both a lingua franca and a not wholly reliable guide to the mysteries of social life.

As with many of Hernandez’s books, Marble Season is richly populated, but the star is a boy named Huey, whose imagination is a troublesome gift, offering a salve in awkward situations and allowing him to make friends, but it also serves him as a cocoon he can retreat into to avoid having to fully engage with others (especially girls). Wistful and wise, deft in its portrait of the psychology of childhood, Marble Season can be compared to Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, with one crucial difference. Straitjacketed by the daily strip format, Schulz could never allow his cartoon children to grow up. But in Marble Season, the slow encroachment of adolescence, both a threat and a promise, gives the work emotional heft.

They are both excellent gateway books to the work of Gilbert Hernandez, which in turn opens up a cultural landscape most of us have only a glimmer of.


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LA Times Hero Complex features Gilbert Hernandez

Updated June 4, 2013



Gilbert Hernandez on standalone tales ‘Julio’s Day,’ ‘Marble Season’
By Noel Murray
April 24, 2013 | 1:48 p.m.

Over his 30-plus years as a comic book writer and artist, Gilbert Hernandez has churned out hundreds of stories in his sprawling “Palomar” saga, mostly originating in the groundbreaking alt-comics periodical "Love and Rockets." (Fantagraphics/Gilbert Hernandez)


Over his 30-plus years as a comic book writer and artist, Gilbert Hernandez has been phenomenally prolific, churning out hundreds of stories in his sprawling “Palomar” saga, mostly originating in the groundbreaking alt-comics periodical “Love and Rockets.”

Hernandez’s bibliography is so thick that it’s actually hard to tell newcomers where to start. This year, though, he’s making it easier for neophytes.

Hernandez has two new graphic novels on the shelves now: “Julio’s Day,” from Fantagraphics, which begins in 1900 and ends in 2000, telling the story of one man’s life in 100 pages; and “Marble Season,” from Drawn & Quarterly, which follows a young boy named Huey through a typical 1960s Southern California childhood of comic books, TV and getting into trouble with his friends.

Hernandez will appear at Skylight Books in Los Feliz on Wednesday to present a slide show, “From Funnybooks to Graphic Novels,” featuring the comics of his childhood, in addition to a Q&A and signing.

Both “Julio’s Day” and “Marble Season” are standalone stories, unrelated to Hernandez’s densely packed “Palomar” universe. And both are brisk and easy to read — while no less sophisticated than the “Love and Rockets” comics that Hernandez and his brothers Jaime and Mario have been putting out since 1981.

“ ‘Julio’s Day’ is very simple,” Hernandez said. “I mean, there’s a lot of heavy stuff going on, but I wanted it to read like a very simple, direct story. Even more so ‘Marble Season.’ You could open up any page of ‘Marble Season,’ any place in the book, and hopefully start getting the story right away.”


Over the last several years, Hernandez’s comics have tended toward stories with very little extraneous detail, but “Julio’s Day” is perhaps the strongest example of that approach: By condensing a century in the life of one Southwestern farmer into 100 pages, Hernandez hits only the high points, leaving just enough context to allow the reader to fill in the details of Julio’s family history, romantic feelings and aspirations.

“What I’m really trying to do is streamline my work, to make it an easier read,” he said. “I’ve always admired newspaper comic strips that are very simple and direct, don’t have a lot of dialogue, don’t have a lot of exposition. When I look back at a lot of the comics that are overwritten, like the beloved old Marvel comics, I edit them in my head, to see how modern readers might become more interested in following them. When I look at my old stuff, like ‘Poison River’ and the early ‘Palomar’ stuff, I sometimes think it’s too dense to enjoy. For me, anyway.”

It’s not just the storytelling that Hernandez has been striving to make more accessible, however. While “Julio’s Day” is decidedly adult, “Marble Season” is an all-ages book that Hernandez says he worked hard to keep clean.

“I kept all the extra-rude stuff out of it that kids experience, just because I didn’t want it to be about that,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of books for a general audience, and every time I’ve done one, they’ve not gotten a very good response. They’ve sort of been dismissed. I wanted one that would really grab the audience, whether it be adults or kids.”

Hernandez accomplishes this by holding close to the relatable side of being a child, whatever the era: the idle hours of play, the sense that everything’s more important than grown-ups understand and the gradual awareness that adulthood looms. It just so happens that Hernandez’s version of the story takes in his own childhood.

For decades, he’s been exploring the epic, intertwined lives of the ordinary people and outsized adventurers who’ve intersected in his fictional Central American village of Palomar. In “Marble Season,” he’s sticking much closer to home, drawing California kids obsessed with Captain America and “Mars Attacks” trading cards.

“Most of this stuff is in my head all the time,” Hernandez said. “I just needed to purge it. I kept promising myself over the years that I would do something with this material, but it just didn’t seem to fit with the ‘Palomar’ series or my other comics, because it was very specific to the times.”

Hernandez says he never really considered making “Marble Season” an actual memoir because he finds the fictionalized version of reality “more truthful.”

“I’m going to disguise a lot of stuff even if it’s autobiography, just because there are real people involved who didn’t know they were going to be in a story. That’s why I created the fictional character Huey, for ‘Marble Season.’ He’s only part of me. A lot of things that he experiences happened to my brothers, or our friends. Or is stuff I just made up.”

One part of the story that’s not made up — “I hate to say it,” Hernandez laughs — is a scene of Huey learning how to steal “Mars Attacks” cards from a vending machine. But karma caught up with Hernandez, when his own mother unwittingly threw out his near-complete collection, short only two cards.

“I like to rub it my mom’s face,” he jokes. “Do you know how much those cards are worth? My mom’s case was odd, because she collected comics when she was a kid, and had to hide them from her mom. So she should’ve known better.”

“Julio’s Day” and “Marble Season” aren’t the only books fans can expect to see from Hernandez this year. As has been traditional, a new volume of “Love and Rockets” should be debuting at Comic-Con International in July, and then out in stores in the fall, if the brothers can finish it in time. (“Jaime’s a little behind,” Hernandez teases.)

A collection of non-”L&R” “Palomar” stories, “The Children of Palomar,” will be out from Fantagraphics this summer. And in November, Fantagraphics will release “Maria M,” a pulpy gangster yarn that’s the latest addition to what Hernandez calls his “Fritz books,” telling surreal, twisted stories involving one of the “Palomar” series’ fringe characters.

Unlike “Julio’s Day” and “Marble Season,” “Maria M” will appeal more to longtime fans — specifically those who’ve read the graphic novel “Poison River,” of which “Maria M “is “an exploitation version,” according to Hernandez.

“That’s where my imagination goes,” he said. “I’m pretty much a Jekyll and Hyde artist. I don’t want to trash what I’ve done before, but I do like to look at things from a different angle. ‘Maria M’ is back to my super-over-the-top violence and sex. All the goodwill I’m getting for ‘Julio’s Day’ and ‘Marble Season’ is going to be destroyed. ”
 
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  The Comics Journal's superlative review of Marble Season

Updated May 2, 2013


"Gifts From Beto"

Charles Hatfield
The Comics Journal, 29 April 2013

What a day.

This morning, over breakfast, I read Gilbert Hernandez’s new book Julio’s Day, which I had just gotten the day before.

This evening, before dinner, I read Gilbert Hernandez’s new book Marble Season, which I had found waiting for me on the dining room table when I got home.

Crossing the synapse between these two lit my head up, like fireworks. In the stretch between the two of them, in the distance but also consistency between 2001 and 2013, is fresh proof of Beto Hernandez’s fidgety talent, his rare mix of raw provocation and affirming humanism, toughness and tenderness of heart. When it comes to Beto, the lightning keeps striking, and if it doesn’t strike exactly the same place twice, it does testify to the same divided genius. To read two new books by Hernandez in a day—and both of them self-contained and freestanding, unlinked to the elaborate continuities that shape his signature projects, Love and Rockets and the “Fritz B-Movie” series—this, to me, is a gift.

Julio’s Day gathers up Hernandez’s serial of the same title from Love and Rockets, Volume 2 (2001-2007). An episodic and elliptical patchwork novel, it flickers through a century in the life of one family, at the core of which is the stoic, self-denying, often near unreadable Julio: a gentle, much-battered soul whom we follow from birth to death.

The story’s setting, which is bucolic and vaguely pastoral but shot through with odd fabulist touches, evokes the beloved Palomar of Hernandez’s earlier work: a village not quite removed from time, or change, but still at arm’s length from the modern. The story’s form—a series of charged moments, or montage of scenes, across a wide span of time—testifies to its roots in the sporadic Love & Rockets magazine, and the fact that it was but one of many projects Hernandez pursued in the same period. Yet, for a project that took some six years to do and another six to collect, it’s remarkably compact. In serial form, Julio’s Day covered almost the whole lifespan of L&R, Vol. 2, but its episodes were always short, often just single pages, at times little more than reflective pauses; it seemed orphaned and under-done within the larger framework of L&R, where Gilbert and his brothers Jaime and Mario were up to so many other things. But, gathered in here, its story pops into focus and stakes fresh claims.

To me the story crystallizes around the question of home, more precisely the rootedness of Julio and the rootlessness of other characters who are more inclined to wander, and who crave the life of freedom and incident that Julio so carefully denies himself. Home is blessing and curse; Julio has desires that cut against the grain of his community and his family, but he cannot act them out. Over the book’s course quite a few children, not just Julio, are born and raised up and eventually die, but from first to last Julio stays cradled in his mother’s arms, unable or unwilling to leave behind the obligations and assurances that that bond represents. An uncle who murders children while speaking of them in sentimental terms (recalling Tomaso, the murderer from Hernandez’s Human Diastrophism) provides a menacing underside to hearth and home, but this isn’t a crime or a horror story. From quietness to quietness, Julio lives a life that seems mostly dull, pulseless, and narratively unpromising—but for the occasional quick, sharp shock—and yet a little world unfolds around him.


This sense of storyworld is nourished not least by gorgeous drawings: looming skies, dark, cross-studded hills, inky avalanches of mud, and trees that spread like black clouds. Silent vistas echo Julio’s lifelong silences, and the arc from birth to deathbed is simply, but powerfully, a span from darkness to darkness. What I most remember about Julio’s Day is the feeling of being young and small, against a backcloth of unexplained and irresistible forces.

Julio’s Day improves from being collected. How odd it is to recall that some of its pages appeared as isolated one-pagers in a larger magazine that seemed almost to ignore them. It is the great lost Beto comic, belatedly given new form and new life. Julio’s losses—most particularly that of his deepest yet most inadmissible love, another boy-turned-man—ring louder in this context, gathered into themselves as a single striking volume.

But, oh, Marble Season! An entirely new, done-in-one story billed as the author’s “first ever semi-autobiographical novel,” Marble Season feels like both a cousin to Julio’s Day and a Rosetta Stone for Hernandez’s entire body of work. Childhood is the key. The feeling for childhood evoked in Julio carries across so many of Beto’s comics: from the boys of Heartbreak Soup to the Guadalupe of “Duck Feet” and Human Diastrophism; from the Casimira of “A Trick of the Unconscious” to the Venus of Letters from (duh) Venus. What Marble Season does is set forth that feeling for childhood—perhaps the very season that the title refers to—in undiluted form, unhurried, minutely observed, formally conservative perhaps, but emotionally freighted. It’s a joy.

Where Julio’s Day telescopes a whole century, seen in lightning flashes, Marble Season takes its own sweet time telling us about, presumably, a short time: a fuzzily defined but important interval in the life of Huey, a young boy in a 1960s suburb implicitly modeled on Hernandez’s hometown, Oxnard. In this postwar landscape of ranch houses and fences, sidewalks and curbs, telephone poles and rabbit ears, Huey grows up, a bit, while learning from an older brother, ironically called Junior, and trying to teach a thing or two to a younger one, the speechless Chavo. Quite a few other kids weave in and out of the story, too: Axel and Suzy, Lana and Patty, Toody, Lucio, and Chauncy, and several more. Some of them matter a great deal to Huey and to the story. Friendships, crushes, and fights matter a lot. Relations form, and then fade, or come back, or just start to happen. Small but important moral questions are worked over: Huey is cheated, and he cheats others; he is bullied, but also defended; he steals, and steals again, and loses. He misses certain nuances, especially when it comes to what older boys and girls go through socially and romantically. In fact he shuttles between sensitivity and cluelessness, and is surprised when the world resists what he has dreamed up. His likes and dislikes are plain, and his enthusiasms grand, overwhelming.

By book’s end, as Huey has a long and thoughtful talk with Patty—a subtle measure of his growth—he wonders “what it will be like in the future,” and whether he will “like being a grown up” (120). Yet there’s no big finale, no too-obvious signaling of development or sudden lurching into a new phase. Just a conversation between two kids, in the midst of a beautiful suburban day whose stillness brings questions to mind, perhaps even a momentary spookiness too, but a day filled with hope and promise as well as doubts and cares. There is a suggestion of love as well, feather-light and unpushy, like a slight breath of wind, along with a recognition that, at Huey’s age, these things may register differently on girls than on boys. The deftness of the characterization is a miracle: Huey, Patty, and many of the others come through as definable persons, though we know them for such a very short time. So little happens to them, but so much.

All this is threaded through a loving evocation of the pop culture of the day, the common currency of so many 1960s kids: comic books and TV, monster movies and radio, Mars Attacks trading cards and G.I. Joe dolls. The DNA of Love and Rockets is in all this, but Marble Season is not some autobiographical cryptogram or mere catalog of influences, nostalgically indulged. If the relationship between Huey and Chavo inevitably brings to mind that of Gilbert to Jaime Hernandez—people will imagine it that way whether Gilbert meant it that way or not—what matters more is that Marble Season is a complete story about a childhood and a neighborhood evoked with terrific vividness.

Some version of Gilbert’s own comic book fandom plays a major part in this; references to specific comic books from the 60s are sprinkled throughout. One charming scene shows Huey and Chauncy bonding over the latter’s impeccable comic geek cred. But Marble Season is not a story that belongs to fandom in the way that the bulk of today’s monthly comic books do; it’s a story about relationships defined or formed, with comic books simply as pretext and backdrop. There’s a tensile strength to this book, a tug-of-war between nostalgic investments and honest characterization, between idealized childhood and rough insight, which lends the story depth beneath its mostly unruffled surface.

Visually, all this is drawn with a lovely economy and openness. The cartooning in Marble Season is spartan and unafraid: a game of small gestures with big stakes. But for the opening splash, all of the book’s 120 pages are democratic six-panel grids, 2×3, regular and unwavering. Light and air have the upper hand: it always appears to be daytime, and much of the action happens out of doors. The panels are almost always habitats for the characters, and the characters are favored above the physical settings. Emotions are privileged above all. The surroundings do not suffer for that: the open skies are sketched in with clouds in the form of stipples and dashes; houses, fences and trees are reliable backdrops. Sometimes, not often, the houses and trees are silhouetted (spot blacks, used sparingly, become eye magnets). Simplicity of effect is the byword, though the visual thinking behind it is anything but simplistic.

Hernandez seems to lean hard toward childhood favorites like Schulz, Owen Fitzgerald, and Bob Bolling, with allusions scattered here and there. For instance, Patty’s Frieda-like hair and all those walls and fences sure remind me of Peanuts; I can easily imagine Charlie Brown and Linus stopping to ruminate along one of those walls, just as Chavo, who can barely clear them, peeks over their tops. (Like Peanuts, Marble Season is adult-free, a kidcosm.) The calmly observed ordinariness of Frank King seems to hover nearby. John Stanley and Kirby get their nods too, though the latter’s hyperbolic zeal is notably absent. Superhero excess is mentioned but not visually sought for (though one hilarious scene finds the brothers pulling bodybuilder poses in order to “get muscles” à la Charles Atlas). If, tonally, the take on childhood here recalls Scout, Jem, and Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird, graphically it distills Hernandez’s cartooning style to a fine essence, fragile up top, robust as all get-out underneath. Marble Season, in short, is beautiful.

Years ago I asked Gilbert what comic he would talk about if he were asked to talk about an unfairly neglected comic that had a big influence on him. He told me, without a blink, Bolling’s Little Archie. Read it, he said—read it and see that a classic Love and Rockets story is a Bob Bolling type of story. I get that: Love and Rockets is full of tales, both Gilbert’s and Jaime’s, about young people wandering suburban neighborhoods, tales that evoke Bolling’s version of Riverdale as well as the archetypal neighborhood of Peanuts and the postwar neighborhoods of Oxnard (a background documented by Todd Hignite in The Art of Jaime Hernandez). But darkness bordered Bolling’s Riverdale, and mysteries too, even horrors, reminding me of Palomar’s odd, troubling eruptions and dreamlike outskirts. What’s more, Bolling often sent Archie somewhere else geographically (or even into deep space, or time), spiking the series’ default suburban feel with sorties into the exotic. Ditto Love and Rockets (particularly Jaime’s early work, which toggles back and forth between suburbia and faraway, exotic locales that license all sorts of hand-me-down comic book riffs). Also, Bolling tucked crime stories, SF, historical adventure, and more into his comfortable suburban premise—a genre-splicing, protean spirit that again shows up in Love and Rockets. Huey and the other kids of Marble Season, though they never actually leave their town, play at these kinds of adventures, pretending, making up stuff. Perhaps most relevant here, Bolling gave his cartoon kids sadness and thoughtfulness as well as pep and optimism, a quality revived in Gilbert’s Venus, and of course in the many kids of Palomar, and that most certainly lives on in the suburban airiness of Marble Season, where rowdiness and quiet contemplation go hand in hand and the kids have plenty to think about.

Some readers, I’m guessing, will say that Marble Season, though about childhood, is not “for” children. I know this line of argument, which, as a professor of children’s literature, I encounter often, especially when texts about children get too complex or troublesome to be absorbed easily into prevailing notions of childish taste or age-appropriateness (a developmental catch-all phrase that frankly gives me fits). It is true that Marble Season, like most of the children’s comics published by Drawn and Quarterly, will probably reach wistful adults more readily than children of the ages depicted in the book. It is true that the book’s simple graphic approach does not subscribe to the usual notions about kids’ appetite for color, fizz, and dynamism. And it is also true that, despite that simplicity, Marble Season is not for early readers: though its steady grid, sparse, open artwork, and focus on children urge me to think of it as, yes, a children’s comic, its languid rhythms, uncued shifts in time and space, and subtlety of observation would seem to keep very young readers out. In any case, the book, for all its softness, is too honest to be an unquestioned read for children raised within the cosseting confines of children’s literary culture, narrowly defined (by which I mean the kind very obviously sanctioned and cordoned off by adult solicitude). Bullying, racist taunting, fighting, eager “pretend” violence, casual meanness, and theft are all depicted here without moralistic tsk-tsking. Thwarted or hostile relationships are sometimes let be. Huey’s and other kids’ mistakes are shown in an understated and forgiving light; no narrator’s superego is allowed to impose. As calm and gentle as Marble Season may be—as unlike the deadpan horrors and ice-chill satire of Beto’s recent work as it may be—it offers plenty of potential incitements for those anxious to string a fluorescent caution tape between stories “about” kids but not “for” kids.

But—but—give it a rest, I say! This is the best graphic book about childhood I’ve read in a dog’s age (maybe since Lat’s Kampung Boy trilogy?). As Corey Creekmur points out in the book’s afterword, Marble Season isabout childhood in the profoundest sense—it doesn’t just depict children; it seeks to inhabit that life-space. However we end up labeling the book, it’s a quiet masterwork, and one that plenty of readers, young as well as old, will learn to dig on their own, if they’re not blockaded—if they’re not discouraged from having an honest encounter with a life fondly but fully remembered.
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



Gilbert Hernandez talks with 89.3 KPCC

Updated May 2, 2013


"Interview: Love and Rockets cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez on Marble Season, his new book"

Kevin Ferguson
Off-Ramp, 89.3 KPCC, 26 April 2013

Gilbert Hernandez is the co-author of Love and Rockets--the sprawling and influential alternative comic book series. Since 1981 Gilbert and his brother Jaime have written and drawn stories about art, love, earthquakes, revolution and more.

Gilbert's latest graphic novel, though, tells a much more focused tale: Marble Season is a semi-autobiographical story that follows 10-year-old Huey and his brothers in 1960s suburbia. Hernandez talked with Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson.

For those who aren't familiar with your work, or Marble Season, tell me about the book.

Marble Season is a book that took, say 50 years in the making. It's basically about a ten-year-old boy who grows up in the early 60s and he's trying to figure out what the world's all about. So he only understands comic books and horror movies and playing marbles.

It's about the neighborhood kids. It's just basically a semi-autobiographical story. What it's like to be ten years old, where you basically run the universe. There's no past, no future, nothing in between. You're just existing in this sort of imaginative state.

You said in an interview that your previous work was dense. And that you wanted Marble Season not to be dense. First off: I want to know what you mean by that, and I also want to ask how Marble Season differs from your previous work?

Well my earlier work was more dense, in the sense that there was a lot more panels, a lot more characters crowding the panels. Same with my writing: I was putting in 40, 60 words in a word balloon. And maybe there'd be three balloons in one panel.

And with Love and Rockets there were different stories going on at the same time too.

Right. What I wanted to do was have something read more like a comic strip, like Peanuts. Where it's just very simple and very easy to follow.

I was kind of excited when I read your bio, because you grew up in Oxnard. What was it like back then?

Oxnard is mostly an agricultural place. It's most notable for it's strawberries. You can still get the best strawberries in California in Oxnard! But it was pretty quiet growing up, and it was pretty quiet. We grew up in a pretty new neighborhood, so it was nice and clean, sparse. That was also what I was going for in the backgrounds and the settings for Marble Season.

I couldn't wait to get out of Oxnard, myself. As a teenager, it drove me crazy. It was fine for little kids, when you're just playing baseball and running around. But as you get older, you start to burn it out. And pretty soon it becomes claustrophobic. And you don't feel like there's any future there.

You were saying earlier that you tell the story from the point of view of a 10-year-old and that the 10-year-old is the center of the universe. Every time if you're going out, and you meet some parents or one parent with a kid. The parent's always fighting to get that kid to acknowledge adults—to not just stay in your own world.

It took me about two thirds of that book to realize there weren't adults anywhere. And I realized I was taken into that mindset!

Yeah. When you're in that zone, when you're in that part of your life as a kid. Parent's aren't around. They're just sort of in the way.

You were also saying earlier that you were taking inspiration from comic strips that you'd see in the newspaper. Peanuts also managed to keep adults completely out of the picture.

One thing that I saw in Marble Season that I did not see in Peanuts ever, I don't think, is that the characters at least in a couple scenes were pretty conscious of race. Huey's older brother Junior is accused of having a crush on a white girl. And that's the main thing: "I can't believe you have a crush on a white girl." Since it's semi-autobiographical, was that a big part of your childhood, too?

Most of that stuff comes from observation. I really didn't have to deal with that too much in my own crowd, because nobody really cared. But I would hear that. I would hear things like that. Like for example: The Beatles are introduced to some of the characters. For me and my little neighborhood kids, the Beatles were fine. We loved them. We thought they were great. But there were other kids who said "Oh, you're not supposed to like that music. That's what white people like."

So I'm just pointing that out—that was an attitude of the time for others. But you'd run into that once in a while. And yea, if you had a crush on a little blonde girl with freckles, eyebrows were raised.

What—if anything—do you want readers to take away after reading Marble Season?

I guess the main point is just that I'm still interested in the shared experience. I still want to connect to readers, to be able to relate. This is stuff you don't really see too much in movies. For example, if you try to get something done like Marble Season before it was a comic—like just an idea for a television show or a film—it's more compromised. It's like, "Yeah, you can have so much of that stuff but we have to have the slapstick and we have to have the funny voices and that kind of thing."

I think they would also want a huge narrative arc and a really overriding conflict to happen in that if they were trying to put it on a big screen. And I think that's one of the things that made Marble Season interesting to me. It's episodic. It's something that's ongoing. And it's like what life is when you're a kid.

Yeah, that's what I was going for. Basically, Marble Season is the moment you're ten years old. Only toward the end where he kind of hints that "Well, I'm not going to be a little kid forever. I hope I like it when I'm not a little kid forever."
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



  Bookgasm on Marble Season: "brimming with pleasures"

Updated May 2, 2013


"Marble Season"

Rod Lott
Bookgasm, 23 April 2013

Like Charles Schulz’s beloved PEANUTS, Gilbert Hernandez’s MARBLE SEASON occupies that strange, nostalgic realm when the events depicted can be both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Based on his own childhood, the LOVE AND ROCKETS co-creator turns from drawing women with Russ Meyer-worthy breasts to recalling a time when little mattered more than whatever outdoor play awaited after school.

While presented episodic in a way that a distinct passage of time is not calculable, MARBLE SEASON takes place not during summer. The weather’s still ripe, however, for playing with marbles, G.I. Joes, homemade Captain America shields and, occasionally, fists of pent-up fury. Indoors, it’s all about comic books and trading cards.

Hernandez’s surrogate in this story is Huey, a middle child to an adoring older brother with grade troubles, and to an adorable younger brother who does little more than smile and cry. A cast of neighborhood kids and/or classmates weaves through Huey’s misadventures throughout. Like PEANUTS, each is distinct enough to stand on his or her own. Also like PEANUTS, no adult is glimpsed.

Presented as an oversized hardback from Drawn & Quarterly, it’s a thoroughly winning work brimming with pleasures about childhood pleasures. As with those comparative carefree times, you may not want to see MARBLE SEASON end.
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured product

Marble Season




Robot 6 praises Gilbert Hernandez' "abilities as a storyteller"

Updated May 2, 2013


"Gilbert Hernandez’s ‘Marble Season’ evokes childhood pleasures"

Chris Mautner
Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources, 24 April 2013

What is it about childhood that makes us forget about ours so easily? Whether consciously or not, we seem all too eager to not only put our younger years behind us, but obliterate them from our memories. Even as parents we frequently grow exasperated and angry with our own children, seemingly incapable of remembering what it was like to be little.

While many cartoonists are cited for their “childlike” abilities, precious few are able to accurately convey what it actually feels like to be a child – what makes up the significant joys and anxieties of your average 12- or 6- or 3-year-old and how they best express those complicated emotions.

There are a few, however. Lynda Barry is one, Kazuo Umezu is another. Add to that short list Gilbert Hernandez, as evidenced by his latest book, the excellent Marble Season.

It’s the episodic story of Huey, a the middle child of a moderately sized family living in California in the mid-1960s. His adventures, such as they are, consist of avoiding scary things, like neighborhood bullies or the crazy lady in the spooky house down the road; discovering cool stuff, like Mars Attacks cards; and inventing and playing games with the kids in the neighborhood. Taking a page from Peanuts, we never see Huey’s parents or any of his teachers (indeed we never see him in a classroom). The entire book is staged and presented from the viewpoint of Huey, his brothers and their friends.

References to Sea Quest, The Beatles and early Marvel comics abound, but this isn’t some baby-boomer nostalgia fest. While the time might be specific, the feelings are universal. There are so many instances in Marble Season that evoke my own memories. The club that the neighborhood kids form based on a popular movie. The playground fights that never quite seem to result in an actual victor. The way playing alone with your dolls action figures could turn into one of your best days ever simply because you end up being surprised by your creativity.

Huey is surrounded by familiar types, the overly friendly, overly loud kid who probably doesn’t have a great home life. The seemingly super-smooth teen-age boy who’s afraid of girls. The awkward tomboy who isn’t used to being “girly” (i.e. wearing a dress to impress a boy). And yet, true to Hernandez’s considerable abilities as a storyteller, they never come across as simple stereotypes but sharply drawn, complex characters. As for Huey, he’s one of the most likable reader-identification figures (and there’s a winning phrase) I’ve read in comics in a long while, to the point where when he does something really awful three-fourths of the way through, I was surprised how upset I was at his betrayal.

This isn’t the first time Hernandez has done all-ages material. As the essay by Corey Creekmur in the back of the book notes, he has the recently collected Advenutres of Venus on his resume (originally serialized in Measles, an all-ages anthology he edited) and Yeah! a fun sci-fi riff on Josie and the Pussycats that he drew (with Peter Bagge scripting). Even so, this feels like a marked departure to some degree, although perhaps that’s simply because of the high quota of sex and violence his recent work (Speak of the Devil, Fatima: The Blood Spinners) has contained.

In Marble Season, Hernandez appears to be suggesting it’s the games we play in childhood that allow us to interact, empathize and learn from others and help ground us on the road to adulthood. Not an original notion to be sure but a compelling one to be sure, and all the more so when expressed in Hernandez’s capable hands. In the beginning of the book, the very notion of having to walk to church on his own causes Huey to panic. At the end, he heads over there to say a prayer without a care in the world.
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



  Design Week's review of Marble Season

Updated May 2, 2013


"Marble Season"

Angus Montgomery
Design Week, 24 April 2013

A new, semi-autobiographical work by Gilbert Hernandez, one of the three Hernandez brothers behind cult comic series Love and Rockets, tells the story of a childhood in 1960s suburban California.

Loosely based on Hernandez’s own childhood in the town of Oxnard, a suburb of Los Angeles, Marble Season is a coming of age story – a tale of comic books, creative childhood play and, yes, marbles, overshadowed with darker themes of bullying and casual racism.

The book has the disjointed feel of a child’s conversation – you’re never quite sure where the story and the dialogue will lead next.

Hernandez’s style, meanwhile, overtly – and perhaps subversively – mimics that of Archie and other American teen comics.

And for those perplexed by the (many) pop culture references, there’s a handy glossary at the back, with details of such icons as the Beatles, Elasti-Girl and Bozo the Clown…
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



Gilbert Hernandez in LA Times

Updated May 2, 2013


"Gilbert Hernandez on standalone tales ‘Julio’s Day,’ ‘Marble Season’"

Noel Murray
LA Times Hero Complex, 24 April 2013

Over his 30-plus years as a comic book writer and artist, Gilbert Hernandez has been phenomenally prolific, churning out hundreds of stories in his sprawling “Palomar” saga, mostly originating in the groundbreaking alt-comics periodical “Love and Rockets.”

Hernandez’s bibliography is so thick that it’s actually hard to tell newcomers where to start. This year, though, he’s making it easier for neophytes.

Hernandez has two new graphic novels on the shelves now: “Julio’s Day,” from Fantagraphics, which begins in 1900 and ends in 2000, telling the story of one man’s life in 100 pages; and “Marble Season,” from Drawn & Quarterly, which follows a young boy named Huey through a typical 1960s Southern California childhood of comic books, TV and getting into trouble with his friends.

Hernandez will appear at Skylight Books in Los Feliz on Wednesday to present a slide show, “From Funnybooks to Graphic Novels,” featuring the comics of his childhood, in addition to a Q&A and signing.

Both “Julio’s Day” and “Marble Season” are standalone stories, unrelated to Hernandez’s densely packed “Palomar” universe. And both are brisk and easy to read — while no less sophisticated than the “Love and Rockets” comics that Hernandez and his brothers Jaime and Mario have been putting out since 1981.

“ ‘Julio’s Day’ is very simple,” Hernandez said. “I mean, there’s a lot of heavy stuff going on, but I wanted it to read like a very simple, direct story. Even more so ‘Marble Season.’ You could open up any page of ‘Marble Season,’ any place in the book, and hopefully start getting the story right away.”

Over the last several years, Hernandez’s comics have tended toward stories with very little extraneous detail, but “Julio’s Day” is perhaps the strongest example of that approach: By condensing a century in the life of one Southwestern farmer into 100 pages, Hernandez hits only the high points, leaving just enough context to allow the reader to fill in the details of Julio’s family history, romantic feelings and aspirations.

“What I’m really trying to do is streamline my work, to make it an easier read,” he said. “I’ve always admired newspaper comic strips that are very simple and direct, don’t have a lot of dialogue, don’t have a lot of exposition. When I look back at a lot of the comics that are overwritten, like the beloved old Marvel comics, I edit them in my head, to see how modern readers might become more interested in following them. When I look at my old stuff, like ‘Poison River’ and the early ‘Palomar’ stuff, I sometimes think it’s too dense to enjoy. For me, anyway.”

It’s not just the storytelling that Hernandez has been striving to make more accessible, however. While “Julio’s Day” is decidedly adult, “Marble Season” is an all-ages book that Hernandez says he worked hard to keep clean.

“I kept all the extra-rude stuff out of it that kids experience, just because I didn’t want it to be about that,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of books for a general audience, and every time I’ve done one, they’ve not gotten a very good response. They’ve sort of been dismissed. I wanted one that would really grab the audience, whether it be adults or kids.”

Hernandez accomplishes this by holding close to the relatable side of being a child, whatever the era: the idle hours of play, the sense that everything’s more important than grown-ups understand and the gradual awareness that adulthood looms. It just so happens that Hernandez’s version of the story takes in his own childhood.

For decades, he’s been exploring the epic, intertwined lives of the ordinary people and outsized adventurers who’ve intersected in his fictional Central American village of Palomar. In “Marble Season,” he’s sticking much closer to home, drawing California kids obsessed with Captain America and “Mars Attacks” trading cards.

“Most of this stuff is in my head all the time,” Hernandez said. “I just needed to purge it. I kept promising myself over the years that I would do something with this material, but it just didn’t seem to fit with the ‘Palomar’ series or my other comics, because it was very specific to the times.”

Hernandez says he never really considered making “Marble Season” an actual memoir because he finds the fictionalized version of reality “more truthful.”

“I’m going to disguise a lot of stuff even if it’s autobiography, just because there are real people involved who didn’t know they were going to be in a story. That’s why I created the fictional character Huey, for ‘Marble Season.’ He’s only part of me. A lot of things that he experiences happened to my brothers, or our friends. Or is stuff I just made up.”

One part of the story that’s not made up — “I hate to say it,” Hernandez laughs — is a scene of Huey learning how to steal “Mars Attacks” cards from a vending machine. But karma caught up with Hernandez, when his own mother unwittingly threw out his near-complete collection, short only two cards.

“I like to rub it my mom’s face,” he jokes. “Do you know how much those cards are worth? My mom’s case was odd, because she collected comics when she was a kid, and had to hide them from her mom. So she should’ve known better.”

“Julio’s Day” and “Marble Season” aren’t the only books fans can expect to see from Hernandez this year. As has been traditional, a new volume of “Love and Rockets” should be debuting at Comic-Con International in July, and then out in stores in the fall, if the brothers can finish it in time. (“Jaime’s a little behind,” Hernandez teases.)

A collection of non-”L&R” “Palomar” stories, “The Children of Palomar,” will be out from Fantagraphics this summer. And in November, Fantagraphics will release “Maria M,” a pulpy gangster yarn that’s the latest addition to what Hernandez calls his “Fritz books,” telling surreal, twisted stories involving one of the “Palomar” series’ fringe characters.

Unlike “Julio’s Day” and “Marble Season,” “Maria M” will appeal more to longtime fans — specifically those who’ve read the graphic novel “Poison River,” of which “Maria M “is “an exploitation version,” according to Hernandez.

“That’s where my imagination goes,” he said. “I’m pretty much a Jekyll and Hyde artist. I don’t want to trash what I’ve done before, but I do like to look at things from a different angle. ‘Maria M’ is back to my super-over-the-top violence and sex. All the goodwill I’m getting for ‘Julio’s Day’ and ‘Marble Season’ is going to be destroyed. ”
 
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  The AV Club: Marble Season is a "beautiful book"

Updated May 2, 2013


From "New comics releases include shaky starts for 2 new runs and a coming-of-age tale from Gilbert Hernandez"

Noel Murray
The AV Club Comics Panel, 23 April 2013

In his recent graphic novel Julio’s Day, Gilbert Hernandez condenses 100 years of a man’s life to 100 pages, giving as much weight to what he leaves out of the story as what he chooses to include. Hernandez’s new book, Marble Season (D&Q), does much the same, but on a different scale. Based on Hernandez’s own memories of growing up in the 1960s, Marble Season consists of 120 pages of loosely connected anecdotes about playing with action figures, reading superhero comics, collecting Mars Attacks cards, and getting into trouble. Like a lot of Hernandez’s comics over the past decade, Marble Season doesn’t feel particularly planned out. It’s more like Hernandez just sat down in front of a blank page and started drawing whatever he could recall about being a boy, without worrying too much about whether it amounted to a story, per se. Yet toward the end of the book, a narrative of sorts does emerge, exploring how kids grow up, lose some of their sense of the fantastic, and develop more self-consciousness.

The characters in Marble Season range in ages from pre-verbal to teenager. Missing from the picture? The adults, who exist off-panel as authority figures and cautionary examples. Like Peanuts, the world of Marble Season is one that parents have made, but that their children inhabit and organize, looking to one another first for cues on how to behave and what to value. Marble Season is by no means a heavy book. Its most dramatic moment comes when the main character, Huey, learns how to steal from a vending machine, then fears that he’s been found out. To these kids, though, everything is huge: a disagreement over which TV shows are cool, a friend moving away, a punishment, and, of course, puberty. Hernandez gets into his characters’ heads, making the trivial seem incredibly profound, while coaxing the reader toward the moment that Huey realizes that he’s reached the highest state of childhood enlightenment—the moment when he understands that his time at this age is almost up. It’s a beautiful finish to a beautiful book. (...)
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Marble Season "endearing," says LA Weekly

Updated May 2, 2013


"Gilbert Hernandez, Famed Cartoonist, Tells Us About His Autobiographical Graphic Novel, Marble Season"

Liz Ohanesian
LA Weekly, 22 April 2013

In Marble Season, Gilbert Hernandez creates a world that is as detailed as it is vague. The setting is suburban America, in a neighborhood similar to the one the famed cartoonist knew as a child in Oxnard. The exact year is intentionally unspecified, but it's sometime during the 1960s.

"I fudged a lot of the details," says Hernandez by phone, in advance of his appearance at Skylight Books on Wednesday, April 24. "I'm putting it right in the middle of the '60s in a way. The Beatles are introduced, that would have been 1964. The comics that they're looking at would have been earlier."

Hernandez calls the micro-universe in his latest book "a dreamworld of the '60s." References float in and out of the consciousness of the children who play with actions figures and argue about television shows. "I wanted to be specific with certain comic books and TV shows and music of the day, but also didn't want to be restricted," he says.

GilbertHernandez1.jpg
At the center of Marble Season is Huey, a young boy embarking on the simple, but still wondrous, adventures of childhood. He dodges bullies and gets into shenanigans with his brothers and neighborhood pals. The book is fiction, but there are pieces that closely resemble Hernandez's own life. "Some of the things happened to me as a kid, literally. A lot of the stuff happened to other kids, my brothers," he explains. "I used one character to express those stories."

Peppering the anecdotal scenes are comics books. That the Silver Age of the comic book industry -- the era that saw the birth of characters like the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man -- played such a huge part in the characters' lives shouldn't be a surprise. Hernandez and his brothers, Jaime and Mario, are renowned for their own work on the now-legendary comic Love & Rockets. Marble Season isn't just a story about childhood and nostalgia, it's a glimpse into the creative development of one of the most intriguing storytellers to emerge from the independent comics world of the 1980s.

It was Hernandez's mother who sparked his interest in comics. "My mother liked comic books when she was a kid," he explains. Hernandez's older brother, Mario, bought a lot of the comics that were eventually passed along to him. He read everything from westerns to children's stories, from horror to superhero works. He was interested in characters like Spider-Man, Charlie Brown and Dennis the Menace. "We pretty much looked at all of them, except for romance comics," he recalls. "I simply think it was because we were all boys. There were no girls in the house until my little sister later on."

Comics, and pop culture in general, shape the way the kids in Marble Season play and the stories they swap on the sidewalks. There are neighborhood legends and entertainment myths that make their way into the innocent conversations. One exchange involves the mysteries and rumors surrounding the death of Adventures of Superman star George Reeves. "That was definitely something that was discussed with kids all the time," says Hernandez, who watched the show in reruns in the early 1960s. "I was profoundly depressed by it. I liked the show so much."

He adds, "In the kids' world, you develop your own conclusions. However true or not, you tend to believe them."

Meanwhile the bullies lurk behind fences as an ever-present danger. "Kids don't really challenge those types of things," says Hernandez. "You just tolerated it, lived through it."

The story unfolds in a way that evokes distant memories. Time becomes a fuzzy mish-mash of details. Environments are expansive. Hernandez chose to avoid zooming in on buildings in his panels. That's a reflection of the cartoonist's recollections of his old neighborhood. " When I was a kid, it was huge, sprawling. Now that I look at it, it is tiny."

The process of making Marble Season was, Hernandez says, "a learning experience."

"My work is a lot more dense," Hernandez explains of his previous projects. This time around, he wanted to try something a little different.

"I just wanted to spread out and tell the story panel by panel, step by step in the simplest way possible, like a Peanuts comic."

The stylistic changes worked. Marble Season is an endearing tale filled with childhood wonder and humor.
 
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  "Master artist" Gilbert Hernandez in Oregon

Updated May 2, 2013


From "Jeff Baker: East/West poetry, Record Store Day, John Densmore, Gilbert Hernandez"

Jeff Baker
The Oregonian, 20 April 2013

(...) Gilbert Hernandez is a legend in the alternative comics world, the co-creator with his brothers Mario and Jaime of “Love & Rockets.” He’s done great work on his own, most notably the Palomar series. “Marble Season” is about childhood, growing up and out into the world, drawn in a simpler style than Hernandez’s usual style. The master artist will discuss his influences in a slide show, “From Funnybooks to Graphic Novels,” and might break down a “Dennis the Menace” comic. Don’t miss it. (...)
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Boing Boing recommends Gilbert Hernandez tour

Updated May 1, 2013


Love & Rockets co-creator Gilbert Hernandez is on tour to promote his sublime Marble Season graphic novel (it's an all-ages story). Peggy Burns of Drawn & Quarterly (the book's publisher), had this to say:

As soon as Gilbert sent us his list of images for his MARBLE SEASON tour slide show, it took EVERYTHING in us to not immediately blog or tweet to tease all the great comics. And since Gilbert is half way done with his tour, and I got to see him do the slide show last night, I'll tease you this Little Archie page. Why? Because Gilbert made the astute point that "old ladies were running it in those days, and where are the old ladies now [in pop culture]?" And he remarked, can you imagine a kids comics with two old ladies on the same page? As someone who will admit to worrying about how comics will treat her when she is an old lady, I loved it.
 
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  Portland Mercury deems Marble Season "great for kids"

Updated May 1, 2013


"A Black-and-White World: Venturing into Gilbert Hernandez's Childhood"

Courtney Ferguson
Portland Mercury, 17 April 2013

GILBERT HERNANDEZ has been living in a clean-lined world of his own making for 30 years now. Longer if you count all the time he spent with his nose in comic books as a kid. The inestimable comic book pioneer, co-creator of the seminal Love and Rockets, is used to seeing things in black and white, but what used to be a cut-and-dry fact—kids probably shouldn't read his comic books, raunchy and awesome as they are—has been upended with his new all-ages comic book Marble Season.

I spoke with Hernandez on the phone from his home in Vegas, and while I giggled like a dunderhead, he was charming and erudite about his semi-autobiographical foray into funnies. "I'm really happy with Marble Season. I can actually show people my comics. At least my daughter anyway, she's 12. So she has to wait [to see my other comics]." Um yeah, just like I'm probably going to hold off on introducing my niece to the big-boobied, gun-toting, sex-filled world of Fritz Martinez in 2010's High Soft Lisp. But Marble Season is great for kids, and especially for adults who remember being kids.

It's an appealing book, autobiographical in that Hernandez took chunks of his childhood in Oxnard, California, and interspersed them into a drugstore comic book world, à la Little Lulu and Dennis the Menace. But unlike those static comics, Hernandez's characters learn and fight and change like real kids. Marble Season's vignettes center on Huey, a comics-lovin' kid with a panache for storytelling, as he and his brothers get into suburban neighborhood adventures with their gang of friends. "I took the more amusing bits of my childhood and strung them together in a story. I wanted to be specific... specific TV shows, specific commercial jingles, specific songs of the era," he says. "I do fudge it a little bit though. It takes place in a generic 1964, but some of the things they refer to didn't happen for another couple years."

In many ways, Marble Season is not that different from Hernandez's amazing Palomar stories from Love and Rockets. Okay, well, it's hugely different—it's not an epic, there's no serial killers or big boobs or magical realism, no Luba—but the underpinning is the same. All of Hernandez's all-ages characters are curious, thoughtfully nuanced, and full of the vivid expressions and body language of his adult worlds, as if the Riverdale of Archie Comics suddenly acquired a previously unknown depth. Or Little Archie & Co. came face to face with the fact that it's super frustrating to be a kid and like Huey, your mom might trash your prized and near-complete collection of Mars Attacks trading cards. "That's a funny story because that's very accurate to what really happened. I like to rub it in—I tell her, 'You know how much those Mars Attacks cards are worth now!?' Oh my god, if she knew what they were worth..." Hernandez says.

And if all-ages comics aren't your normal Gilbert Hernandez bag—no matter how well done—then hold onto your britches 'til later this year when he burns his family-friendly bridge with Maria M., "an ultra-violent gangster saga" with tons of sex and violence, he promises. But for now, Hernandez revels in the simple pleasures of a neighborhood where little girls swallow marbles, war games prevail, and comic books are king.

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Chicago Tribune's glowing review of Marble Season

Updated May 1, 2013


"Alt-comics great Gilbert Hernandez wanders back into childhood"

Christopher Borrelli
Chicago Tribune, 17 April 2013

Gilbert Hernandez is 56 now.

His brother Jaime is 54. They grew up in Oxnard, on the Southern California coast, where, as kids, they read comics and drew constantly. They made crude, tiny books for themselves until their older brother Mario -- the Hernandez family had five boys and one girl -- introduced Gilbert to underground comix. Everything changed. Gilbert and Jaime became interested in punk, and, in 1981, their first stapled-together book of comics was noticed by a publisher. Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez became "Los Bros" forever more.

At least, that's what fans call Gilbert and Jaime, creators of the legendary alt-comic "Love and Rockets," which Los Bros have pumped out (Mario has also had a hand in it, sporadically) -- in addition to their own, individual cascades of comics -- for 32 years.

If alt-comics has a heritage brand, "Love and Rockets" is unquestionably it. In fact, it's no exaggeration to say that if the Hernandez brothers' images of sardonic, spiky-haired, black-clad punk chicks had not become ubiquitous in the alternative scene of the 1980s, alternative culture itself would look different.

On the other hand, "Love and Rockets" often appropriated the look of the melodramatic romance comics of the '50s -- picture Roy Lichtenstein's paintings, only played for more irony. The series became so vast that Fantagraphics, Los Bros' Seattle-based publisher, now maintains a long primer to the series on its website.

It's nothing like "Marble Season," Gilbert Hernandez's sweet, new semi-autobiographical remembrance of his comics-obsessed youth. Put simply, this is a book about what it felt like to be 10 years old, to have an unscripted afternoon to yourself, to make up games, wander the neighborhood in packs and not worry much.

It's not science fiction.

Gilbert, who appears Thursday at Quimby's Bookstore in the Bucktown neighborhood -- he's giving a talk on the comic strips of his childhood -- discussed those lazy afternoons on the phone recently from his home in California. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: I heard you had arthritis.

A: Yes, I do. But I squeeze a rubber ball for a while and I'm fine.

Q: So "Marble Season," about the freedom of youth, was made under the constraints of old age?

A: You know, that never crossed my mind, not once. Probably because I still feel 25 to myself and I still have nothing to do but comic books, which is what I felt like, and I did, when I was actually 25, ages ago.

Q: Your book also feels like a kind of homage to the influences of a childhood summer -- you even include this page of footnotes to Don Drysdale, "Bozo the Clown," "Petticoat Junction" characters. But really, the most obvious nods are the characters themselves, which look like they wandered in from old comics. That little brother in the book could be a sibling of Charlie Brown.

A: A lot of it overlaps with classic newspaper strips because I read those strips so much (as a kid). A little round-headed boy with no hair, I suppose, will forever be Charlie Brown, regardless how close to Charlie Brown he actually looks. I didn't intend that, but "Peanuts" is ingrained in us. Actually, I pull more from "Little Lulu," "Archie Comics," "Dennis the Menace" -- since the comic is about a 5-year-old boy, "Dennis the Menace" was the starting point. It's the most naturalistically told comic I've ever seen. Hank Ketcham did the famous square "Dennis the Menace" strips, the boxes, then he hired artists to approximate his style for the Sunday version, and the best was Owen Fitzgerald, who's like the Jack Kirby of kids comics. He's probably the biggest influence here. But the thing about using those old strips, the originals were limited by who the audience was -- kids. So the writers told one kind of story most of the time. I wanted to go deeper.

Q: So there's this vaguely creepy undercurrent, just beneath the surface. Even "Archie," I suppose if you read enough "Archie Comics," could have a slightly twisted "Blue Velvet" thing going on.

A: Yes, because parts of it will strike you at times as, well, 'This could become a serious story if it went further. This is the way this character feels.' I think those reflections, inside those characters, drew me to comics in general -- those moments when the writers of these strips just allowed themselves to be adults for like a short second. I think I related more literally to the early "Spider-Man" comics from Steve Ditko because it could be upfront and direct about the problems of being a kid. He captured being a teenager so beautifully.

Q: Actually you hit on something so prescient in "Marble Season," and I'm not sure anyone has said it yet: Old newspaper comic strips were really about unstructured childhood days, when you didn't have anything big to do, didn't have to be at soccer, weren't over-scheduled with activities.

A: Sure -- wandering through childhood like Charlie Brown, the only rules to obey were at school or home, from parents. Otherwise, you were really on your own, with your imagination to keep you company, no video games and no cellphones. Time moved so slow, even the most minor change was perplexing and an event.

Q: This tomboy character in the book, who carries a baseball bat, one day starts wearing dresses.

A: Right. That's the big stuff I remember from childhood. We knew this tomboy, then over the weekend, with no warning, she starts wearing a dress. At a certain age, you have no idea what's going on now, what to say. And you don't ask. It's a small bump, but there's a flow to kids. At least there was: You have to do you homework, you have to mow the lawn, you have to take tests -- minor stuff to adults but it doesn't feel that way to a kid. The tone of the average day was not super-happy, and not traumatic, and you just kept going.

Q: But there is unease here -- an older kid is pelted by younger kids with water balloons? It's one of those seemingly innocuous antics you might come across in an older comic, but here, maybe because the characters don't quite get what's really going on, it feels unnerving. The older kid asks for the pelting, then gets beat up by his brother and the younger kids walk away, say nothing.

A: That's one of the things in the book that actually happened to me. An older cousin wanted to start this club and he invited all these kids and he gave them chores to do and the big reward, the water balloons.

Q: Which is weird.

A: Yeah, it seems weird now. At the time, and I have known this cousin my whole life, it made sense, because he was weird -- not crazy, just random, eccentric. You would not really question this stuff as a kid.

Q: I have to admit, "Love and Rockets" always felt just as open-ended. It intimidated me when I was younger. It was like coming to a soap opera a decade after it began -- where do you start?

A: We hear that. A lot of readers, and I forget until someone tells me this, think all of our work, from both of us, is connected: "How does this story fit into this story? And why did you use this character from your other comic in this comic?" It's usually a gag, but the way things connect is such a concern! And I guess we have created this universe that extends and retracts and looks similar but doesn't necessarily connect obviously.

The best way I explain it is, when we were kids we would walk to the corner convenience store near our house to see the comic book rack. And there were romance comics, army comics, superheroes, westerns, kids comics. We may have been interested in just the type of comic we were interested in, but we had knowledge of a wider world. We didn't read romance comics because we were boys, but we knew of them. We recognized people do many things. People are isolated now. Back then, we knew how to wander.
 
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  Time Out Chicago recommends Gilbert Hernandez talk

Updated May 1, 2013


Time Out Chicago

Love & Rockets cartoonist Hernandez presents a slide show "From Funnybooks to Graphic Novels," featuring the comics of his childhood, and discusses his latest work, Marble Season.
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Gilbert Hernandez talks Marble Season with Cult MTL

Updated May 1, 2013


"Q&A with Gilbert Hernandez"

Rachel Levine
Cult MTL, 15 April 2013

Gilbert Hernandez is to comics what the Ramones are to rock. He didn't invent the form, but he threw down a radical new way to think about it. Guided largely by his interest du jour, Hernandez raised the bar on graphic storytelling with his invented Latin American village, Palomar. Now, with over 30 years of ink on his fingers, Hernandez has drawn comics for every genre, from straight-up superhero adventure to surreal adolescent epic. With his new release, Marble Season, Hernandez delves into new territory: the semi-autobiographical memoir.

Cult MTL talked to the comic icon by phone about the new collection, his other projects and his long history of comic-making.

Rachel Levine: What is the premise of Marble Season, and why tackle a new genre now?

Gilbert Hernandez: Marble Season is observances of childhood. I just wanted to write about how cool it was to be a kid. I wanted to capture what it's like when you're 10 years old and you have a decent life with not too many troubles. You float through it. You take the slings and arrows and keep going. Even though things don't all work out, you're still living and still alive.

I simply got to that point where I hadn't done an autobiographical work. All my kids' stories were part of an adult story that was gruesome. My work had become pretty gruesome. I wanted a break for myself and for my readers.

Marble Season is autobiography in the sense that it shows some of the nonsense I endured as a child, and friends of mine as well. Some of the stories of my friends were put into the main character, Huey. About 75-80% is based on my experiences growing up in the '60s. The rest is made up to link the story together.

RL: The kids in Marble Season play a lot of pretend games. Does this reflect something of your own experiences?

GH: Yes. Basically, it was just playacting. We'd be grabbing our toy rifles and killing Nazis. What boys do now on video games, we did in the streets. I guess it would look strange to see it now (laughs). We did all different things. We played superheroes. Sometimes we were in a haunted house. I had a vivid imagination. I would instigate the play. I'd suggest stuff and everyone would go along with it.

RL: How would you characterize yourself as a kid?

GH: Just like Huey. Sometimes aggressive, sometimes introspective. Neurotic and self-aware. Very self-conscious.

RL: How have things have changed for kids today from when you were growing up? Do you think anything has been lost?

GH: Today, kids stay inside playing video games, texting each other. The parents aren't there. The video games are taking care of them. We had nothing but a stick and our imagination. Sure, we were indoors a lot watching television. The rest of the time, we were outdoors wreaking havoc.

I know one thing has changed -- kids' attention spans are non-existent. They watch two minutes of a movie and if they don't like it, they're out of there. They can leave if they're bored after 10 minutes. That's a luxury for them. We had to wait for movies to be scheduled. We had to wait a year to see the Wizard of Oz. To avoid that with my own daughter who is 12, I would sit with her when we watched a movie. If she got bored, I would talk her through it and explain it. I taught her to "read" movies early on. Now she enjoys black and white movies.

To go back to your question -- things have shifted. I noticed that there is more willingness to be hostile, because kids can be that way on the Internet. They type away. They can say whatever they want, however they want. They feel that nothing is going to get back to them. There's more arrogance. We had our own arrogance, but in different ways.

There were bullies who would knock you down and steal your mask, for example. The bullies weren't the criminals they are now. Then, you just had to deal with them. They were part of the landscape.

RL: I'd love to know more about both Lucio and Chauncy.

GH: There are two sides of people you meet as a kid. Lucio -- you would meet a kid who was so out of control, yet he had some kind of appeal with his reckless abandon. He'd get in trouble. Lucio isn't really based on anyone specific, just kids in the neighborhood. They never went as far though. You'd meet one and think, this kid's going to get in to trouble. But I never saw any of them get in trouble. If I did what those kids did, I would get in trouble.

Chauncy -- completely the other side. He's the sensitive, intelligent child, but also very appealing to hang around with. I had them on both sides and appreciated them both.

RL: Anything particularly challenging about creating Marble Season?

GH: Once I started working on it, it came together fast. It wasn't easy to draw, because of the microcosm -- it was so repetitive. The last few pages, there's no background. I'm sure I'm going to get crap for that. I had penciled in some backgrounds -- but when I started adding them, it worked better without. It took away from the intimate world of the kids. I erased all the designs and it worked better for me. They're in a ghost world, but an innocent place.

RL: What comics are you reading at the moment?

GH: I'm not reading comic books right now because at this point in my career, I'm always writing or thinking about writing. Unless I go on a vacation, it's what I'm doing 24 hours a day. I'll look at old reprints from the '50s of horror comics to get away from what I'm doing, but I don't look at too many new ones.

RL: Anything else in the works?

GH: I have a collection, Julio's Day, that I'm proud of. I added 10 pages to that. It's 100 years of a man's life. That worked well and is getting a great response. Julio's Day and Marble Season are coming together at roughly the same time. I am really happy about both books. Of course, I'll by spoil that by having another graphic novel at the end of the year -- my usual rude sex and violence.
 
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  Praise for Marble Season on Boing Boing

Updated May 1, 2013


"Exclusive excerpt from Gilbert Hernandez' masterpiece: Marble Season"

Mark Frauenfelder
Boing Boing, 18 Apr 2013

Marble Season is the semiautobiographical novel by the acclaimed cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez, author of the epic masterpiece Palomar and cocreator, with his brothers, Jaime and Mario, of the groundbreaking Love and Rockets comic book series. Marble Season is his first book with Drawn & Quarterly, and one of the most anticipated books of 2013. It tells the untold stories from the early years of these American comics legends, but also portrays the reality of life in a large family in suburban 1960s California. Pop-culture references—TV shows, comic books, and music—saturate this evocative story of a young family navigating cultural and neighborhood norms set against the golden age of the American dream and the silver age of comics.

Middle child Huey stages Captain America plays and treasures his older brother’s comic book collection almost as much as his approval. Marble Season subtly and deftly details how the innocent, joyfully creative play that children engage in (shooting marbles, backyard performances, and organizing treasure hunts) changes as they grow older and encounter name-calling naysayers, abusive bullies, and the value judgments of other kids. An all-ages story, Marble Season masterfully explores the redemptive and timeless power of storytelling and role play in childhood, making it a coming-of-age story that is as resonant with the children of today as with the children of the sixties.

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LA Weekly: readers ignore Gilbert Hernandez "at their peril"

Updated May 1, 2013


David Cotner
LA Weekly, 16 April 2013

"It's rare that an artist reaches the heights in such disparate worlds as gritty independent comics and British psychedelic music, but Oxnard-born cartoonist Gilbert "Beto" Hernandez has for more than 30 years taken his experiences from life and punk rock and distilled them into an ever-evolving universe that readers ignore at their peril. The co-creator of the nigh-unto-perennial Love & Rockets comic book tonight presents his memoir, Marble Season (Drawn and Quarterly) -- and, as a special bonus, will present the slideshow "From Funnybooks to Graphic Novels," which shines a light on the childhood comic books that fueled his growing confidence and vision. The main character Huey, based on the artist, is the middle child in an extended family making its way in the SoCal suburbs of the '60s. Illustrator Howard Chaykin once observed, "What's the Golden Age of comics? Twelve!" -- and Hernandez is no stranger to the truth of this particular quip, his adolescence shot through with an unfolding imagination that moves readers the world over, far from the strawberry fields of beautiful downtown Oxnard."
 
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  Excerpt from Marble Season on Slate

Updated May 1, 2013


"Captain America's Shield"

Gilbert Hernandez
Slate Magazine, 15 April 2013

"Gilbert Hernandez is one third of Los Bros Hernandez, a trio of legendary comics artists best known for their ongoing comic book series Love and Rockets, which they initially self-published in 1981. That series includes a set of stories authored by Hernandez called Palomar. Set in an eponymous (and fictional) Latin American village, Palomar has been compared to the work of Gabriel García Márquez and hailed as one of the major works in the genre.

Hernandez’s newest book, Marble Season, is a semi-autobiographical story about a kid named Huey coming of age in the California suburbs in the 1960s. (Hernandez was born in 1957 and was raised in Oxnard, Calif.) The book comes out tomorrow; you can read an excerpt below. (...)"
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Marble Season comes highly recommended by the Bygone Bureau

Updated April 15, 2013


"Recommendations, 4/12"

Kevin Nguyen
The Bygone Bureau, 12 April 2013

I’d be surprised if I read a better comic than Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season this year. It’s amazing that three decades into his cartooning career, Hernandez is still publishing his best work. He’s known for his prolific Palomar series, part of the larger Love and Rockets comics, which he has been co-authoring with his brother Jaime since the ’80s. But Marble Season, Hernandez’s first semi-autobiographical comic, is more straightforward and more accessible than anything I’ve read of his before.

Marble Season is almost like Hernandez’s take on Peanuts, set in a predominantly Hispanic California suburb in the ’60s. Through young Huey and his friends, Hernandez reveals a portrait of a pop-culture-soaked childhood, specific yet universally resonant. Also like Schultz’s comics, parents are figures that exist in the periphery but are never present. It’s mostly up to the kids to figure things out themselves.

Hernandez also taps into a disconnect between the way adults think of adolescence and the way teenagers think about growing up. As an older reader, we look at Huey and his friends with a nostalgic envy for a time when our days were spent wandering and playing pretend; and yet, Huey is overly concerned with the future, as teenagers are wont to be. In a moment of unknowing sweetness and insecurity, Huey announces that it is a beautiful day, and immediately after, wonders if he’ll like being a grown up. Hernandez has brilliantly captured the dilemma of adolescence in this single moment: wanting so badly to be an adult, while being so afraid of it at the same time.
 
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  Marble Season in the Chicago Reader

Updated April 15, 2013


Gilbert Hernandez talks about comics, childhood, and Marble Season

Amy Levitt
Chicago Reader, 12 April 2013

Gilbert Hernandez is a superhero of comics, probably best known for Love and Rockets, the epic series he and his brother Jaime have been creating since 1981. In Marble Season, his latest work, though, Hernandez moves away from Palomar, the Latin American village where surreal things just seem to happen, to the more solid, but no less mysterious, world of 60s suburbia, in which he just happened to grow up.
Marble Season isn't straight autobiography, Hernandez says, but it has autobiographical elements. "It's nothing specific," he says. "Just experiences. I exaggerated the true things. It's the best accurate representation of things that happened to me and my brothers and the kids in the neighborhood."

Not a lot happens in Marble Season. Kids hang out after school and play baseball and marbles and GI Joe and swap comic books. Hernandez would like to clarify that, unlike his alter ego Huey, he never stole a comic book. Nor did he eat a comic book, like Huey's little brother Chavo. He and his brothers did, however, cut up their comic books and paste their favorite panels into scrapbooks.

"Those are all gone now," Hernandez says a little wistfully.

But Marble Season isn't an exercise in nostalgia—or at least not just an exercise in nostalgia. True, it's set in the past, in a time before video games and after-school programs, when kids were largely left to their own devices to amuse themselves.
A portrait of Hernandez by Hernandez
"The basic entertainment in those days was TV, comics, and movies," Hernandez explains, "and we had no control over when we could see it. That's totally alien to my daughter, who's 12. To her, The Wizard of Oz is just another movie that she's seen a million times. When I was a kid, it was an event. You'd only see it once a year. That changes how you see and appreciate it."
Marble Season, says Hernandez, "is my valentine to the good and funny parts of being a kid."

There's not much trauma in Marble Season, aside from standard childhood traumas, like bullies and the crazy lady down the street. And the moment when Chavo sees a dead bird, which is based on an incident from Hernandez's own childhood. "It looked like a baby to me," he remembers. "It freaked me out. I didn't know what death was like."

Hernandez is not above poaching from his daughter's experiences. In one sequence in the book, Huey buys a joke lottery ticket for 50 cents. (It says, "You can collect your winnings when hell freezes over.") The only difference between fiction and life is that Hernandez's daughter paid a dollar. (Inflation.)

"I got mad at her," he says. "I said, 'What did you spend a dollar on that for?' And then I could see her start to sink. She got a little sad. The air had gone out of her balloon. I had to remember to stop being a dad."

Hernandez's next book is an abrupt turnaround from the gentle, peaceful world of Marble Season. Maria M. is a companion to Love and Rockets and is full of gangsters, sex, and violence. It'll be out before the end of the year.

"I usually plan things five years in advance," he says. "It percolates until I'm ready to write. I never get writer's block."
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



Gilbert Hernandez talks Marble Season with the Montreal Gazette

Updated April 15, 2013


Gilbert Hernandez, a child of the comics generation

Ian McGillis
Montreal Gazette, 12 April 2013

For many people, comics were a private childhood passion, shared with a small circle of friends at most, a faintly seedy and disreputable interest best pursued away from adult eyes. For Gilbert Hernandez and his two brothers growing up in the working-class suburb of Oxnard, California, in the 1960s, it wasn’t like that at all.

“My brother Mario was in a supermarket with our mom when he saw a rack of comics,” recalls the 56-year-old cartoonist, speaking by Skype from his home in Las Vegas. “Mom said, ‘Do you want one of those?’ It was as simple as that. And Dad basically said, ‘Hey, keep buying him those, because he keeps quiet while he’s reading them.’ ”

Thus began a shared fraternal Hernandez childhood revolving around reading comic books, watching wrestling and monster movies on TV, collecting trading cards, and playing in the neighbourhood streets — a culture predating instant-gratification modern technology and parental micro-managing of kids. It’s a world evoked with great charm and immaculate period detail in Gilbert’s new book, the lightly fictionalized graphic novel Marble Season (Drawn & Quarterly, 127 pages, $21.95). Its view of its time and place, essentially gentle and affectionate even if darker currents are implied, has been garnering rave reviews, something that especially pleases its author given that, in his view, “reviewers and critics can be overly cynical. If something the least bit sentimental comes up, they’ll often start flying off the handle. But I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, you’ve had those times in your life. Everybody has.’ ”

Gilbert and his brothers Jaime and Mario (the latter’s role was less central and gradually diminished) are, of course, best known for Love and Rockets. Not to be confused with the Bauhaus-offshoot band who stole the name wholesale, the comic serial was launched in 1981 and continues to this day in annual book-length instalments. “Just a little part of life that we knew about, but that we felt wasn’t being represented,” is Hernandez’s way of summarizing the work’s essence, but don’t be fooled by his modesty. Love and Rockets was revolutionary, and still stands alone. Los Bros Hernandez, as they sometimes billed themselves, combined classic draftsmanship with artful, edgy and allusive storytelling instincts, in the process giving groups previously shortchanged in comics and pop culture generally — women and Hispanics particularly — a new voice.

“When you’re young you don’t know anything, but you have lot of energy to express yourself,” Hernandez says of those early days. “So you make a lot of mistakes and you stumble, but you also get a lot of truth from within. (Your work) is truthful because you don’t know any other way to be.”

For the brothers, unfettered youthful expression was inseparable from the late-’70s punk explosion that hit when they were in their late teens and early 20s; they were active participants in the hothouse SoCal scene that produced bands like Black Flag, X and the Germs. Punk represented a zone of freedom that they were able to apply to their own medium. “We gravitated to that, definitely. We realized, ‘Hey, we can do whatever we want here. We have our own little punk army.’ We didn’t have to deal with our contemporaries and classmates who thought we were just some weird little cult. We knew they were wrong.”

Any questions of career, let alone the long and distinguished ones they’ve had, weren’t even on the radar, Gilbert says. “At the time, we just didn’t think about the future, at least not in that way. We thought about it one step at a time, one issue after the next. There was no point where we got bored and thought, ‘What else can we do?’ It was more like, ‘It’s time to do another Love and Rockets, and it’s got to be better than the last one.’ We felt a kind of duty to our readers, and it’s interesting to think that 30 years later it’s still the same. Jaime and I will talk on the phone and say, ‘We’ve got to get the next issue out. I hope they like this one.’ I’m sure age and physical frailty will take over some day, but for now, we’ll keep doing it as long as somebody keeps publishing it.”

Gilbert has always maintained a parallel career outside Love and Rockets, most notably with the long-running Palomar, set in an invented Latin American village and featuring the exploits of Luba, a retired wrestler who’s firmly in the Hernandez tradition of strong woman characters. It was partly in reaction to some of the more extreme elements in that series, and in recent instalments of Love and Rockets, that Marble Season was conceived.

“I hadn’t done just a G-rated book, something that was for kids but that anybody across the board could enjoy,” he says.

“I had always shown childhood as something difficult, something you want to get the hell out of, but now I wanted to do a story that was the opposite, about that moment in time when you’re in that world of discovery, doing what you want to do. That fleeting moment when you’re in your zone.”

The chance to go against the expected female-centric narrative was attractive, too.

“I wanted to do pretty much a purely boy story, yes. The girls are kind of the bad guys in Marble Season, although that wasn’t my intention. It’s also a world without adults. The oldest person in there is a teenage girl with a transistor radio. While writing it I was thinking, ‘This is a lot like Peanuts,’ but I was also thinking, ‘Well, that is how it was for us as kids.’ At that age, especially in Southern California where you can play outside all year, you were literally in your own world until the sun started going down and you heard the voice: ‘Come in and take a bath.’ ”

The tour that brings Hernandez to Montreal this week is an opportunity to pay homage to some of the under-appreciated artists who had a such an impact on him back in those Oxnard street-running days.

“For 30 years, I’ve been answering questions about who influenced me, but I’ve often had the feeling people had no idea who I was talking about or how the influence worked,” he says.

“So here’s a chance to pull up a few panels of, say, Little Archie and point out how direct the influence was, or do a panel-by-panel analysis of a nine-page Dennis the Menace story and show everyone exactly how good it is.”

Gilbert Hernandez launches Marble Season Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, 211 Bernard St. W. Admission is free.
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



  Publisher's Weekly on Marble Season: "this is pure stuff"

Updated April 11, 2013


Publisher's Weekly, 4 April 2013

Someday they’re going to run out of superlatives to heap upon the lap of Hernandez (co-creator of Love and Rockets), but not yet. This graphic novel is a sublime and soulful portrait of childhood through the eyes of Huey, a middle child (like Hernandez). The book follows him and his brothers, friends, and the various cliques and clubs of neighborhood kids from toddlerhood to teenage years. This is the pure stuff. Hernandez captures the joy and obsession of childhood days—comic books and trading cards; baseball and “let’s pretend”; the terror of big kids, scary neighbors, and girls; superstition and ritual; television and pop music; and parents (forever offscreen, like in Peanuts) who rein in the fun for no discernible reason. As usual, Hernandez’s artwork adeptly highlights his skill infusing seemingly simple and open panels with intense memory and meaning. Proust had his madeleines, but Hernandez’s inspirations are the smell of newsprint comic books, the sound of a tinny AM transistor radio playing the Beatles, and the taste of a marble on his tongue. This lyrical, memorable book stands alongside the sequential work of Stanley’s Little Lulu, Fitzgerald’s Dennis the Menace comic books, and Schulz’s Peanuts as a masterful, involving, funny, and real portrait of kids and their wide world, unlimited by reality—until, at least, it’s time to go home for dinner. (May)

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Gilbert Hernandez

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Marble Season




Gilbert Hernandez lecture promoted in the New Yorker

Updated April 11, 2013


Goings On Around Town, The New Yorker, 6 April 2013

The cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez—the author of “Palomar” and the co-creator, with his brothers, Jaime and Mario, of the “Love and Rockets” comic-book series—whose latest work is the semiautobiographical graphic novel “Marble Season,” presents a slide show of his favorite childhood comics. (126 Crosby St. 212-334-3324. April 16 at 7.)
 
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Gilbert Hernandez

          



  D+Q at TCAF: Rutu Modan, Gilbert Hernandez, and Lisa Hanawalt!

Updated March 4, 2013


TCAF 2013 welcomes LISA HANAWALT, GILBERT HERNANDEZ, and RUTU MODAN
Drawn & Quarterly announces festival line-up and participating authors!

FEBRUARY 26—Today, The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2013 teams with venerable Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly to welcome Lisa Hanawalt, Gilbert Hernandez, and Rutu Modan as Featured Guests of the festival. All three creators will attend TCAF 2013 in support of new works published by Drawn & Quarterly, and will be prominently featured in Festival programming taking place May 11-12 at Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street.

This trio of talented graphic novelists will join previously announced and mainstay Drawn & Quarterly cartoonists Marc Bell, Chester Brown, Seth, and Art Spiegelman as a part of the 2013 Festival, and a host of other cartoonists published by D&Q across their long history. Drawn & Quarterly’s exceptionally strong line-up will make appearances at the Drawn & Quarterly booth during TCAF’s main exhibition dates. They will also participate in various other programs, including displays of original art, panel discussions, interviews, and much more. Final programming details and schedules will be announced closer to the TCAF dates.

...

Biographies:

Lisa Hanawalt is a renowned self-publisher and illustrator living in Brooklyn, New York. Her comics work has won several Ignatz awards, and the Stumptown Award for Best Small Press Publication in 2011. Hanawalt’s illustration and comics clients include The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Hairpin, McSweeneys, Chronicle Books and Vanity Fair. She will debut her first major comics work, My Dirty Dumb Eyes, at TCAF 2013.

Gilbert Hernandez has been called “One of the greatest American storytellers,” by Junot Diaz. Alongside his brothers Jaime and Mario, Gilbert co-created and contributed to the acclaimed comic book series Love and Rockets, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012. Gilbert has won numerous awards for his stories, including the Kirby Award, Inkpot Award, Harvey Award, and the 2009 United States Artists Literature Fellowship. Gilbert will be at TCAF 2013 to debut his semiautobiographical new work Marble Season, easily one of the most-anticipated and most-important books of 2013.

Rutu Modan is the author of the phenomenal graphic novel Exit Wounds, which received enormous critical acclaim and was cited as one of the best graphic novels in its year of release by Entertainment Weekly, Time, The Washington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Magazine amongst others. An accomplished illustrator, graphic novelist, and teacher of the medium, her work is highly regarded around the world. Rutu Modan will attend TCAF 2013 to debut her new graphic novel The Property, published by Drawn & Quarterly. TCAF would like to thank the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto for their support of this trip.
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Featured artists

Rutu Modan
Gilbert Hernandez
Lisa Hanawalt

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Marble Season
The Property
My Dirty Dumb Eyes




AV Club interviews Los Bros Hernandez, celebrating 30 years in comics

Updated January 14, 2013


Love And Rockets’ Hernandez brothers on 30 years in comics
By Sam Adams
October 19, 2012

Still producing their regular (although less frequent) series Love And Rockets after 30 years, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez—Los Bros to their fans—are contemporary comics’ closest thing to an institution. In an era where comic books’ aptness for adult, socially well-adjusted readers was still in doubt—at least as far as mainstream media were concerned—the brothers’ stories demonstrated the medium’s vast potential. With Gilbert’s sprawling Palomar stories, set in an imagined Latin American country, and Jaime’s tales of aging punks adjusting to adult life in Southern California, Los Bros Hernandez weave tales of divergent yet equally accomplished craft. And as the recent issues of Love And Rockets: New Stories attest, they’re still at it, with Jaime’s two-issue “The Love Bunglers” standing as yet another high-water mark, both for the artist and for comics as a whole. While the Fantagraphics 30th-anniversary collections won’t be out until 2013, the brothers are touring the country with their newest issue of New Stories in tow. Grabbing dinner before an appearance in Philadelphia, they spoke with The A.V. Club about the changes they’ve seen the comics industry go through in the last 30 years, how they manage the vast fictional worlds they’ve created, and why they’ll be doing Love And Rockets until they die.
The A.V. Club: You’ve been doing a tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Love And Rockets, including several convention appearances. How has that world changed in the three decades you’ve been making comics? In the ’80s, practically every article about Love And Rockets and Maus and Watchmen started with some variation on “Pow! Bam! Comics aren’t for kids any more!”
Jaime Hernandez: Even when we asked them not to.
Gilbert Hernandez: “So we want to do this interview, but you have to promise not to start with ‘Pow! Bam!’” And they would. Every time.
AVC: Do you even recognize what it’s become?
JH: Well, let’s say this: The last SPX [Small Press Expo] show was a lot different than the first San Diego show we ever did. [Laughs.] It was terrific. A really great show. It’s kind of funny because Gilbert and I were raised on the mainstream. So, when we had a show at San Diego or say like a HeroesCon, the superhero stuff was normal. If you didn’t like it, you just walked by it. It’s like that. Go to this SPX show, and they’re nothing like that there. If you just mention the [superhero] stuff, it’s like, “I didn’t read that,” or they don’t want to talk to you, that kind of thing. Of course, there’s a few people there who did grow up with the stuff. So that’s one of the biggest changes that I sense.
GH: I might just be in a bubble, but here’s the trouble I see with the independent comics: We’re the only guys—maybe there’s a couple of others—that put out comics out on a regular basis. Everyone else puts them out five to 10 years [apart] now. It’s just gotten really bad. So that’s why there’s no beachhead, no swell of indie comics that people are making a big deal about. But at the same time, the mainstream seems to be surviving on the fact that there’s great, big Hollywood movies based on the products, and the actual comics aren’t a big deal anymore. That’s what I see. I’m not there. I’m not going to the comics stores and seeing how well they’re selling or how wonderful everything is with mainstream comics, but you hear people are leaving DC in droves. That kind of stuff. And I’m thinking they’re having a little trouble there. The movies are doing great, because The Avengers was a movie, this and that. But I don’t know what’s going on with them, but I do see a very serious attention to, “Well, the new Charles Burns book is out.” Or the new Dan Clowes book. Or the Chester Brown book that came out. That kind of thing. And I see that as [being] taken more seriously and attention to that. Unless it’s just the areas I’m going to. I might not know what else is going on. We don’t get the “pow zam” stuff so much. We get more now, “Well, you’ve been doing this for 3,000 years, so you must be old and tired. What are you doing next?”
AVC: “Does your arthritis inhibit your drawing?”
GH: Actually, I do have arthritis, and I’m worried about it.
JH: That’s a story in itself.
AVC: Gilbert, you especially are putting out so many different books now, going in so many directions.
GH: Well, right now we’ve got the new edition of Love And Rockets coming out. I just had the Venus collection. I’m doing a book with Dark Horse called Fatima: The Blood Spinners, and that’s a zombie-massacre comic. Emphasis on the “massacre.” [Laughs.] I’m always having too many comics come out at once. They all cancel each other out.
AVC: And then Marble Season? You’ve been talking about that semi-autobiographical graphic novel for a while now.
GH: Oh, Marble Season I’m working on. That’ll be coming out next spring just because of scheduling problems. That’s interesting, because I’ve never really gotten that close to doing autobiographical comics. I’ve dabbled here and there, but this is actually the closest I’m doing to stuff that happened to us as kids. Now, I say semi-autobiographical because a lot of the stuff that people will read, [they’ll] think this is my life story. It really isn’t. It’s only part. A lot of things that say happened to Jaime, I will apply to the main character. Something that happened to another kid, I’ll apply to the main character. It sounds like he had this eventful life going on, but some of it’s mine, some of it is Jaime’s, some of it’s my older brother’s, some of it is kids’ in the neighborhood. It’s the closest to actual things that happened, but I’m still changing it up.
AVC: It’s not like a memoir.
GH: No, it’s just more like looking back at what was great about being a kid. Because normally, in Palomar, especially, and Love And Rockets, it’s looking back at how rotten it was to be a kid. [Laughs.] So, I decided to do a valentine to the past. Because there’s enough fun stuff about the past growing up that fills a book. And I left a lot of stuff out.
AVC: For people who’ve come to Love And Rockets with the Palomar or the “Locas” stories, it can be a shock to go back and read the earliest issues, when there was much more of a science-fiction influence. You’ve talked about being inspired by punk bands, but most of them only released an album or two before they broke up. When did you realize that you could be in this for the long haul, that you could think beyond the next issue?
JH: I would say by the second issue, I was thinking, “Oh yeah, we gotta do another one.” Maybe Gilbert was thinking earlier. And then we’d go and do the next one. And then we started to think, “This shit has to come out more often,” because Fantagraphics were still running by the mainstream way of doing things: When they finish a comic, they schedule another one. An “it comes out on time, or else” kind of thing. But we knew that we weren’t that fast, so we were going to make our own pace. It was still like, “Okay, when you’re done, you start working on the next one.” Like Gilbert has said in the past, he said it was our duty to keep doing this, and when we were done with one, start working on the next one. It just seemed like a natural thing to do. We were raised on that way of working on comics.
GH: Yeah, we were raised on the mainstream way. Not waiting around. I didn’t realize it. When we were kids, we read underground comics. We didn't know they did it whenever they felt like it. So it was our duty as almost-adults [Laughs.] to just put it out because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Kind of like schoolwork, except it was schoolwork we could do. Because when I had to do schoolwork, I couldn’t. I just didn’t get it. But doing my schoolwork that I could do, which was comics, that’s what made me do it.
AVC: Did you feel a duty to your fans or to yourselves?
GH: First us, but getting it out there to a publisher, to our readers, to the retailers, the distributors—we had a duty to put out this book. I don’t know what was going on in the distributors’ heads. We didn’t know. We just heard from retailers that they liked our comics. We didn’t know whether they ordered two copies and stuck them back in the porn section. We didn’t know anything about it, but it was our duty. These people are counting on us to do our comics because they want us to do our comics. That’s what made it important. If they were asking us to do something else, it would have been a different story. I don’t know how that would have worked out. It was more, “You guys are doing this comic. I like this comic.”
AVC: You might not have thought about it in these terms until journalists started bringing it up, but there were few Latino characters in comics before you came into the picture. Was it was as simple as wanting to draw people you knew, or was that something you purposefully set out to change?
JH: It was a mixture of a lot of things. It was wanting to tell personal stories, so it was basically our upbringing, and then also, “Hey, this stuff’s not in comics. Let’s show them our version.” We’re from Southern California, and all they’re seeing is one side of it. They’re seeing the beach and stuff like that. “Well, let’s show them this side of it. Let’s show them how punk is from my personal stance. Let’s show them how being a Mexican in Southern California is.” I also don’t see a lot of women being treated fairly in comics—so it was that. It’s like taking advantage of a lot of stuff that wasn’t there, as well as just wanting to tell personal stories from our side.
AVC: What about you, Gilbert? Jaime’s Hoppers bears some resemblance to Oxnard, but Palomar is an invented country.
GH: It’s funny because I, more often than Jaime, am accused of being an indulgent writer. All those parts of the stories that they like, those are indulgences. I wanted to do a small Latin American town because I wanted to. I wanted to draw that way, draw those things. I wanted to create those characters because I wanted to. I wasn’t going to sell Inhumans fans my stories. [Laughs.] I just wanted to do it. I was compelled to do it because that’s what made me feel good, was to draw comics. And I knew it was [taking] more of a chance. If this gets to people who aren’t interested so much in comics but are into those kind of stories—who like those films or books—they might like it. It got to them somehow. This might be getting some notice. That was what we were thinking. The good thing about being youthful and naive, you just think, “This is going to work,” whether it does or not. “This is going to work. This is going to happen.” Even if it’s just a few people who respond to it. That and just drawing certain things I like to draw.
I happen to think Latinas, Latin women, are the most beautiful women in the world. So that’s what I’m going to draw. I love women from all cultures, of course, but if I was going to deal with any of them, that would be No. 1 for me. [Laughs.] Just to draw Latin women and have adventures with them. Like Jaime was talking about, his stuff is sort of almost based on the Betty And Veronica comic, but bringing it into the real world, more or less. Same for me. I just want to have my girls, hotties, that we read stories about. That’s what made it my indulgence. It could look bad on the surface sometimes. For example, I have a character, Luba. I drew Luba that way knowing the response it would get. I knew what would happen, but the trick was you look at her, you have your prejudices, now read the story. They were going to read the story because they were already reading Jaime’s stories. They were already reading Love And Rockets for Jaime’s stories because they were interested in punk and the good drawing and the connection to the characters, but I knew that if I drew my things my way, they might fall into my writing and look at it [skeptically] “Oh, who’s this character?” But if they read it, they’d change their minds. As soon as they read the Luba stories, all that prejudice was dropped.
AVC: Are you competitive with each other? How much were you or are you aware of what the other person’s working on? Or are you just like, “Wow, this is great.”
JH: Yeah, it was more like that. Early on, when Gilbert found his—I don’t know what you call it—his vision, his focus. It seemed like he found something where he knew what he was going to do with it, and he knew how he was going to do it. I was still kind of experimenting: “Oh, I’ll just do fun stories and see what comes out ’til the next issue and then do whatever.” And then I noticed his stories started really going somewhere. They were focused, like he had a plan. I had no plan. I had to learn in the first few years how to put my stuff together. I don’t regret what was before, because I like a lot of the stories where Maggie and Hopey were doing nothing but living. I like that part. But, at the same time, he was doing stories that were just really focused, and so I said, “Shit. I gotta get off my ass.” And I had to learn really quick how to do it.
GH: It’s funny how it comes all in a circle, because I had to do that because his stuff was already getting attention. Which is not bad. I really wasn’t jealous. It was more like, his stuff’s getting all this attention just for him waking up in the morning and doing stories. Whereas, I don’t have that. I don’t have that immediate draw from the readers, so I had to work harder to work on something that was a little different where you would follow stories for a different reason. Even if it all ends up the same, one big happy family, that’s great. To get there, I had to figure out a way to not get attention, but put equal weight on the other side of the book. But like I said, it all comes from duty. It was never a competition. I’m just not the jealous type that way. I’m not like, “He’s famous and I’m not, so I’ll show him!” It was more like, “He’s doing this half of the book; I got my half. Okay, this is what I can do.” And then the readers will have so much more to read.
AVC: There are Jaime people and there are Gilbert people, but I don’t think there are people who love Jaime’s work and hate Gilbert’s—
GH: Well early on… [Laughs.] It was pretty clear right away what they were looking at and enjoying in Jaime’s work. I knew that right away. So it didn't matter to me to be as looked-at that way. It didn’t look like, “Gilbert Hernandez, whoa. His drawing has gotten better, and it’s slicker.” I knew that was about the mainstream. I knew that’s what we weren’t about. So I just did it my way and did it the best I could.
AVC: These are stories about communities, dramatically in the case of Gilbert’s Palomar, perhaps more subtly in Jaime’s Hoppers stories. Where did the ambition to create something that size come from? It’s not something that had been done in comic books before, although some serial strips had followed that path.
JH: I guess the main thing for me was just that I thought that it was important if I had a large body of work, so I wanted to continue. Also, as I got to know the characters better, I wanted to create these characters to where they became so human that you couldn’t not like them, or you couldn’t not relate to them. So I guess that was the thing that was driving me by then: You’re going to know Maggie more. I’m going to know Maggie more. The more I do her, I’m going to know her more, and hopefully you’re going to know her more. So I guess character-building was the most important thing that was driving it.
GH: I guess part of me was wanting to be taken seriously in that I had something going on in my brain, in my soul, having to prove that. I grew up being really insecure and dumped on, over-feeling certain things in a negative way. So I thought I had something to prove. It was simply that I admired the old comic strips that lasted for years. And I thought, “That means it’s good. If they can last, it’s good.” So if Fantastic Four, in comic books, can have 270 issues or whatever, then it must be good. I wasn’t judging the quality of the work. It must be good because it still stands. People want to know about the Fantastic Four. And I just admired the fact that Superman comics, Action Comics, were still in print. It was issue 475, and it’s still there. Like I said, I didn’t think anything outside of that. Just that it was happening. That it must be good. There must be something that’s still vital to people in a way. So that’s what I looked at. If I created something big enough, I’ll have enough to draw from for years and years and years—because I really did want to do this for years and years and years. It wasn’t just, “Create this giant thing and it’s over.” No, no, no. I just felt like I had all these characters in this town. I’m just going to keep going and going, and they’re going to grow with me like they did in the Gasoline Alley strip. I don’t know what stuck with me, why that was important, but I wanted to have a life, and to be able to draw comics and build on something that had already gotten a pretty decent response. “Well, I’m going to keep that going.” My job, my duty, is to keep going, keep adding something to it. Of course, there’s spots in it where I went too far and got really crazy with it: Too much dialogue, too much intensity in the story. [Laughs.] I guess that’s just the energy of my brain, it works that way.
AVC: In a way, that’s a carryover from superhero comics, that faith in continuity. There may be asterisks pointing you to the fact that something happened in New Mutants #23, but they assume you remember who Colossus’ sister is.
GH: He had a sister?
AVC: I think so.
JH: You mean Colossa?
GH: Would she join the steel team? That’d be awesome!
JH: She was not of mutant kind.
GH: Oh, she didn’t have the power?
JH: I don't know! I just wanted to use that word.
[Both laughing.]
AVC: Jaime, some readers have said that “The Love Bunglers,” the most recent Locas story, felt like it could be an ending to the overall story, but then you’ve done that many times over the years.
JH: False endings. [Laughs]
AVC: You said in an interview with The Comics Journal in 1988 that you were ready to put the story to bed.
JH: And I brought it back. [Laughs] So I’m not going to say that again.
AVC: Wise.
JH: But if I’m going to say it, I’ll say “for now.”
AVC: There are panels in “The Love Bunglers” that call back to specific moments in stories as far back as The Death Of Speedy. What sort of relationship do you have with this massive world you’ve created? It’s a bottomless well of subject matter, but it’s also this huge block of story you have to carry with you everywhere you go. How do you negotiate with the past you’ve created? Do you have to research your own back issues?
JH: Oh, it can get pretty intense and complicated. I’ve known Ray since issue #20 of the comic. I think he was mentioned in issue #19 maybe, or a couple issues before, but I remember Ray from this time and I know that he was after Maggie at this time. I try to think of it like I’ve known this friend of mine. So the actual details of when did he break his arm or something like that, are not important until I need it and then I have to really research: When did he do that? No one broke their arm. I’m just making up an example. So keeping all this stuff in my head and trying to remember all this continuity, I am thinking that Ray is this guy I’ve known for 20, 30 years, and I know what he is like. I know what he’s thinking, so if I put him in a brand new story, if there’s nothing I really have to research as far as a detail—like when he went to the Army or something—then I just know this is Ray, he is now almost 50 years old and he was 20 years old then, and so it’s just like keeping tabs on a friend. So I know what Ray is up to now and what he’s been through basically as far as growing as a person.
AVC: “The Love Bunglers” is very much about that, how the past does or doesn’t make itself felt in the present.
JH: And so the same with Maggie.
AVC: Sure.
JH: I know how she grew up emotionally—what her ups and downs were, basically, even if I don’t know the exact details. Like I said, every once in awhile, I do have to go back, but overall, it’s just this is my friend Maggie and I know she had a hard time at a time of her life and I know how she is going to react to a modern-day situation. Because I’ve known her, and I know she’s experienced in some ways because of what she’s learned in the past and stuff she’s never learned in the past. Some people learn, some people never learn and they’re sometimes the same person. So that’s basically how I do handle it. It’s not as hard as you’d think, but every once in a while, I go, “What did I do? Oh, OK. So I have to fix this.”

AVC: Gilbert, you seem to have a bit more of a love-hate relationship with Palomar, in that you’re clearly pushing to do books that create a new world from scratch, or almost from scratch, in the case of the Fritz stories. In the Love And Rockets: New Stories #5, Fritz is shooting a movie based on what’s happened in Palomar, which seems explicitly designed to mess with your carefully laid-out continuity.
GH: I’ve always been conscious of this, because a lot of times you read old movie reviews and they really love a certain director’s, say Fellini’s, work. They say, “Oh, he’s got it down.” And then in his later work, he goes back and trashes what he’s done before. And I’ve been conscious that I never want to go there. I never want to do that. “Oh yeah, he used to love his fat women, his fat beautiful women, and then he started making fun of them at the end.” I never noticed that, but critics have said that. I don’t want to do that. I never want to be there.
Now, if I have to go back to Palomar, there’s part of me that’s going to be like, [in a weary voice] “All right. Now what do I have to do?” Whereas, before, I wanted to do it. I don’t want to get to that. I don’t want to trash it. So I pulled an 8 1/2. If you don’t know what to do, write about not knowing what to do. So I had a movie version of Palomar. This is the Fritz world, so it’s about a movie that’s low-budget and it’s a Palomar movie, but it’s like they didn’t get the rights to do it, so they kind of made their own story, and since Fritz is Luba’s half-sister, she kind of plays up the character as a combination of several characters from Palomar. The movie’s not quite right. It’s not right. It’s got elements of it, but what the center of it is that there’s the feeling that people don’t like it there. So what I tried to do, without trashing my Palomar, is make it so it gets trashed in the movie, but only because the people who made the movie felt that way. Not me. Not my readers. But the characters do. So that’s real dicey. It can look like I’m trashing it, but I was real careful. So I literally have the character, Pipo or someone says, “Everybody hates living there, and she says, “No, no. Those are my feelings. You can ask anybody else and they feel differently.” Of course, many readers aren’t going to see that. They’re going to say, “Gilbert’s trashing Palomar. Don’t do that.” But they’d be right. You don’t trash what you basically built your life on.
AVC: The talk about there eventually being a Love And Rockets movie has died down, but it was fairly persistent for a while. Did the frustrations of trying to get the movie made, and obviously not doing so, find their way into this story?
GH: Well, I thought about my frustration with people who are just full of shit in Hollywood and keep making movies. We went through a lot of crap—25 years and it’s just crap—about them making movies. What can you do? They got the purse strings.
AVC: Did it feel like it was close?
GH: There’s stuff that was close to maybe getting it made but not close to making it good. Never close to making it good. That’s what the problem was. They just could not see that you could make a good movie from this material. There was always the argument that “you guys don’t know movies at all.” I know movies. I know what a good movie is. But you guys are steering away from that. You guys don’t want that. You want some kind of comic-book connection. Some kind of, “This is the new comic-book movie.” So, basically, they’re really incompetent. The people who make movies, the artists, they know what they’re doing. The people who get the movies going don’t. It’s a project to them.
AVC: It seems like it’s gotten worse. So many studios are run by Wall Street types with no artistic background at all. It makes you long for the days when Samuel Goldwyn could get a movie made just by saying, “Yes,” although it probably wasn’t great if he said, “No.”
GH: Yeah, it’s just gotten so fragmented. The thing is our movie, our story, is a no-brainer. I think it’s too simple. You can make a good movie out of barely what we have. And people do it. They all say, “You don’t know how to make movies.” They make movie after movie after movie after movie—ours wouldn’t be the one that would ruin the company. I mean, you make 200 movies a year. So it’s just a business thing. Everybody’s calling on the phone with sunglasses. They’re at the pool, on the phone, and it’s just a different world of how they make things.
AVC: The question that’s rarely asked is, “What does the work being adapted have to gain from the process?” Even some very successful adaptations don’t really add much.
GH: For me, the reason to make the movie is that if people like the comic, then people would like the movie if it was well made. There are good movies for them, but very few. And I mean that in a true sense. If they love your story for freaking 30 years, then they can do a movie about it.
AVC: You mentioned people asking you what it’s like to have been doing this for 3,000 years. The model has really shifted over that time, to the extent that you’re some of the few serious cartoonists still serializing stories in individual issues rather than putting out original graphic novels. Do people still have the same enthusiasm for reading part of a story, rather than waiting for the collection?
JH: Different people. A lot of people have gone by the wayside. If they do like it, they don’t come to the signing. They don’t really. I don’t know. I mean it’s hard to tell because we are just by ourselves at our drawing table, and then we don’t see much of the response unless we go to a convention or read it on Facebook or Twitter. The thing about Twitter and Facebook now, people connect more and you hear more stuff going on, unlike the old days where you didn’t know anything. There were times when we were asking, “Who’s reading this?” Or better yet, is anybody reading it? I can only go by the kind of responses I have issue-to-issue. Like the last two issues, “The Love Bunglers” and then “Browntown.” Those were two big years for me, and I was just overwhelmed with what people thought about it. I was like, “Hey, I did pretty good.” At the same time I know that I’ve had two big years, and then it’ll kind of go sleepy again. But that’s not going to stop me because I know that the work I’m doing is going to be building for the next time.
I’m still the naive cartoonist who thinks that just drawing stories is going to satisfy. Just drawing. Doing the work is going to satisfy. I don’t know if the person who reads it online is going to go, “This doesn’t work. I don’t know what this is.” Then if it’s on paper, they say, “Oh, I love this.” I don’t know that. I’m still partly that kid who is naive enough to go, “I’m telling a good story here, and it’s going to come through no matter where it is.” I don’t know the rest of that. After that, it’s out of my hands. But I don’t know as far as alternative comics, indie comics. I don’t know how they shop. I know the mainstreams, how they shop. They go to the comic store. They get their stack. They go through the box. Get their stack of comics. So in a way I kind of like that. It’s almost rigid.
AVC: Sure. Every Wednesday.
JH: Every Wednesday they get their comics. They’re happy. Then they write letters about how bad that issue was or whatever. But it’s still that ritual of getting the comic.
GH: I don’t know how that works with indie comics. I just know that once in a while, every 25 years, Dan Clowes puts out a book and it’s a hit. But as far as regular comics, Jaime and I are probably two of the very, very few who put out comics on a regular basis. Even if it’s yearly, it’s still a regular basis. I don’t know how, except they’re reading. People are fickle.
JH: I don’t know how the indie fan picks comics. One thing I do know is when I go to SPX and I see the mini-comics, and I go to San Diego and I see the mainstream and the semi-mainstream and the semi-alternative; there’s all those different camps. I know that people still get it on their drawing board or their computer, and they still have panels, so I know it’s still this sequential thing that I’ve been doing forever. So I’ve never been worried about, is this going to reach them because it’s always the same weird thing that comes from your drawing board, whether it is on a computer or it is from your hand. It’s always the same thing, and it’s always going to be that thing of, “Here’s this image and here’s this image and then the next one and the next one.” So that’s why I don’t worry about it too much, because I know somehow they’re going to figure a way to put what I do in the format that’s going to reach them.
AVC: Do you use computers at all?
JH: No, a sheet of paper. A ruler. There are those times when I’m starting a comic, and it’s time to rule panel borders, where I go, “There’s got to be a better way.” I remember there were artists that would hire someone and say, “Lay me out some pages.” Stuff like that.
GH: You know how this is going to end? I don’t know how this is going to end. I guess people wonder because we’ve been doing it for so long. Our time is up. Normally, in the normal world of art comics, our time is up. Everybody gets 20 years if they’re lucky. We’re on 30. You know what I mean? And the guys who last, like say Robert Crumb, is because he does comics sporadically. But the person who does comics all the time, they use up their juice. Kirby was only around for 30 to 35 years of stuff worth reading. Ditko’s 25 years, let’s say. I’m just being generous here, in general.
We’re just doing a comic book and the next issue, the next issue. It’s still working right now. It doesn’t spook me, but it’s also like, “Let’s keep going.”
JH: A lot of times I wonder if I’ve still got that energy. I still trust that there’s something that I have worth telling. But when is the day when someone goes, “I didn’t like his later stuff because he stopped knowing how to draw”? Where I’m drawing Maggie or Hopey with crooked eyes, really stiff or something?
GH: When we were really younger, we would see that and we would correct it immediately. We would not allow that to go out. There’s a period when a lot of artists just start giving up on that. We’re not there yet.
JH: Sometimes it’s their health, and they have a shaky line and they just cannot see it.
GH: Charles Schulz had this shaky line because that’s how his body worked. Reed Crandall, a great old comic-book artist, I loved his art and then toward the end he did that “Dynamo” story and it’s like everybody’s really wide and it bothered me that everybody’s wide. And I asked somebody about that, and they go, “Well, his vision was so fucked up. He just drew that way.” That’s how he saw. After that, he really didn’t do much that was worth anything. For me, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It could be arthritis, because I’ve got arthritis encroaching. I don’t know. Is it going to be my brain? Am I just going to start drawing wonky stuff? Or am I going to be so tired that I just go, “I don’t care. They don’t read it anyway.” Or is it just going to be that one day Gary [Groth] calls up and says sales are so bad now. We’re just going to have to cancel our book. That’s where I see it’s going to end, where it’s just that we can’t do it anymore; nobody wants to see it anymore. But otherwise, we don’t know how to stop. We’re just going to keep going until it destroys itself or we give up because we win the lottery or something. You know what I mean? Even then, we’d still be doing comics. I don’t know how this is going to end. It’s like we’re in the middle of it.
JH: I cannot see a future without it. The only thing I can see in the future is I picture Love And Rockets number whatever way down the road and they have to explain: “This special issue, Jaime died halfway through doing it. So there’s going to be some pages with just pencils on it and some blank pages. But we thought we owed it to him to finish it, to print it.” A half-issue and then, well, that’s it.
GH: It was difficult on certain, different levels when Charles Schulz quit Peanuts first. Even though I wasn’t following the strip at that time, you think that Schulz just said, “That’s it. We’re done.” There’s no way. There’s no such thing in my lifetime.
AVC: And then he died.
GH: A week later. It turned out he had stomach cancer, he knew he was dying, so he had everything arranged. But Peanuts was him. He had to do it until the very end. Until he physically couldn’t anymore because he was so sick.
JH: Zak Sally asked me in an interview, “Don’t you think that when the strip ended, it ended him? That he was kept alive because of the strip?”
GH: He just was probably in such pain that he was like, “Okay, that’s it.”
JH: It could have been something as sad as he was at the drawing board, and his wife kind of took the pen and goes, “Come on. Let’s go to bed.”
GH: And he cried himself to sleep.” This could have happened. We don’t know. We know Jeannie [Charles Schulz’s widow], but I don’t want to ask her. It’s so private. So for the Hernandez brothers, who knows? We’re going to just keep going.
JH: As long as we’re allowed, as I always say.
GH: Here’s a cheat. I do have a cheat: I have stories that are projected so far in the future because I have to go by age now. I’m 55. I might be doing this when I’m 60. When Love And Rockets [New Stories] #10 comes out, I’ll be 60. So I consider those things. I believe in being prepared. A lot of people don’t, and all of a sudden it catches up to them and they’re like, whoops. I haven’t projected past that, but know what I’m doing up until Love And Rockets #10.
AVC: In what level of detail?
GH: I know what’s happening in the story, how it’s going to work in the reprint books. That’s how my brain works. I have a very busy brain. So I know how this is going to work in reprints down the line. When I started doing that at first, I was kind of spooked. I was going, “Am I going crazy? Is this going to work? Is this going to fall apart? Am I wasting my time?” No, everything I prepared for, it happened. So I have to trust that that’s going to continue. It’s all about trust. I don’t know. Like [Jaime] said, what if Love And Rockets #7 just fails? We just look at each other and we’re like, “I think we’re done, man.” It’s not going to happen, but that could happen.
JH: Or like, “Nah, we’re not done. I’m going to go off and do it myself.”
GH: You could just get worse and worse and not ever be good again.
AVC: Kind of like those ’60s bands with one original member.
GH: The replacement drummer is “the original member.”
JH: And they’re doing the old stuff, and it’s like, “Well, I’m not sure you guys are ‘continuing.’”
GH: So right now, it’s a bit of a cheat that’s going to work for me. I am prepared to do stories in the future that I’ll be able to. I don’t know how well I’ll be able to draw by then, but I’ve already started them. This is my trick. I have to trick my own mind. I’ve got stories that I’m want to be doing when I’m 75 that I’m already drawing. Not the whole thing, just bits of it, because that’s how I’ve always worked since I was a young person. If I started something and abandoned it and look back at it literally years later, I could finish it. I can. So I’m hoping upon hope that I can continue that. So I’m okay until I’m 75 years old, if things hold up. My brain holds up. My energy, enthusiasm. My neck holds up for the drawing board. I will have something, and it won’t be as horribly shabby as the last days of Wallace Wood or the last days of great, great cartoonists. And then there’s the problem with Alzheimer’s that’s in my family and in my wife’s family. I might just lose my marbles in 10 years and not know what I’m doing. Hal Foster, for the last 10 years of his life, he didn’t know he created Prince Valiant. That is just outrageous to me. That is just horrible. But that’s life. That’s how it works. I’m still working on the superhuman, I’ll-be-young-forever motif. I’ll be 33 for the rest of my life, and then I’ll drop dead.
AVC: What about you, Jaime?
JH: I don’t look as far ahead as Gilbert does. I go issue by issue with a kind of tiny inkling of something coming up in the future, like, “This is going to happen to Maggie.” I’ll get to it when I get to it. I know a turning point in someone’s life is coming, but I haven’t figured out what. Sometimes I do have, like, one scene, “Oh boy, that’s going to be so cool.” And I create the next five years, which was kind of the way “The Love Bunglers” were. I know there’s going to be a payoff somehow. Whether it’s bad or good, there’s going to be a conclusion.
AVC: “Love Bunglers” definitely felt like something you’d been building to.
JH: Sometimes they’re accidents. The end of “Love Bunglers” happened because my wife said, “If you put Maggie through the wringer one more issue, I’m going to stop reading your comic.” And I said, “I guess it’s time to give her, give Maggie her thing.” At least for once. Until the next time. So it’s those accidents once in a while that make me kind of shift and go, “Okay, I know how to do it. She wants Maggie to have a fun time. Okay, good. I can do it.” And then I start to work on it and it works out and then I go, “Hey. Pretty good.”
GH: Just to finish what I was saying, I’ve been very impressed with the saying that chance favors the prepared mind. That’s where I’m at. If I’m prepared, chances are I’ll end up where I want to be. I am doing those few pages and I’m getting ideas for later books that I may do when I’m 75, God willing. If I actually draw pages of it, come up with ideas for it, I won’t have to approximate that when I get there. I can’t just let it go. I can’t draw it crooked. I can’t draw it lazy, because there will be pages done already or at least prepared that I have to match. So it’s all this weird psychology I’m doing on myself. I’m fighting with my aging self. I’m fighting with the old Gilbert. It’s kind of like Total Recall. I’m fighting with the old Gilbert who might get lazy or sick or tired, but he has to step up to the Gilbert I am now. I’m my own science-fiction movie. So I’ll write a story, like the last Fritz book, that I actually have ideas for. They’re not important ideas to where I need to do them now. They’re ones I can just let go, but it’s enough to make me say I can’t hack this up.
JH: That’s funny. I mean, I’ve never heard you say that before. I’m doing it on a kind of shorter, smaller level that I am forcing myself to start a fresh story, whether it’s connected to Love And Rockets or maybe I’ll find a publisher somewhere else down the road. I’m making myself do more work by starting a story, like he says, just a little bit of it, and then leaving it alone and working on my current work so when it’s time, I’ll get to it. But in my case, it’s just getting myself to be more prolific, because I am getting very comfortable with just Love And Rockets, and once in a while, I do like to branch out. I’m not as good at it as Gilbert. That’s why he has three things going when I have one thing. I’m just not the type of artist he is, but I am training myself to be like, “Okay, if I do a splash page of some story and then I lay it out, I can’t ignore it when it’s time to do it. I have plans for five stories down the road, but if it’s not written down or anything, I will never get to it. So I’m forcing myself. I’m kind of like what Gilbert is doing. Gilbert’s is on a grander scale. Mine is just to get me off my ass.
GH: The way I see it is not fear but the concern, sleeping with one eye open, is that people just stop reading it. I think that’ll stop it. I don’t think it’s going to be our age or anything. Well, who knows? A car hitting us or whatever. Somebody just says, “Stop.”
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



  RELUCTANT HABITS interviews Los Bros Hernandez

Updated January 14, 2013


GILBERT AND JAIME HERNANDEZ (THE BAT SEGUNDO SHOW)
October 11, 2012 · by Edward Champion

Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez are the creators, writers, and artists for Love and Rockets, the long-running and much acclaimed series celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.


Condition of Mr. Segundo: Revisiting a moment in 1969 which sealed his fate.

Authors: Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez

Subjects Discussed: Mario Hernandez, the way that Gilbert and Jaime collaborate, the six characters speaking in the same panel with six balloons, egging each other on, growing up in a household in which Gilbert passed down comics to Jaime, The Twilight Zone, Les Miserables, Gilbert’s lack of interest in prose, magical realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, creating an entire character based off a certain detail, finding new angles on heavily defined characters, why Maggie’s hairstyles and weight constantly change, how the Love and Rockets run is organized, allowing space in case one of the brothers decides to go long, seeking extreme character qualities, furry culture, turning exploitation on its own head, goofing around, dealing with serious topics (in stories such as “Browntown” and “Farewell, My Palomar”), the problems in elevating superheroes, emotional areas, why Jaime returned to superheroes after a long absence, Gilbert’s frustrations with The Dark Knight Rises, balancing work on L&R in the early days while having jobs, how economic forces have affected Love and Rockets, knowing that L&R wasn’t going to be a hit comic, maintaining a realistic view to make a living, Gilbert’s tendency to work on three comics at the same time, why the Hernandez brothers find women more interesting than men, fondness for butts and curves, the responsibility to imbue all comic book characters with humanity, Jaime being terrified of women in high school, creating a universe run by women, creating stories that are mostly visual (such as “Whoa Nellie” and “Hypnotwist”), the influence of words, L&R as a comic shop with endless back issues, Jack Kirby, why superheroes still have the upper hand in comics, wrestling, following through on a story, the joys of action poses, the influence of Peanuts in the children’s stories, drawing kids with big heads, visually representing a child’s imagination, the difficulty of sizing up the anatomy of a kid standing next up to a grownup, anatomical weak spots, when visual memory works better for art than research, being lazy when drawing hands, scaling children, optical theory, forced perspectives in cinema, eyeballing perspective, vanishing point and backgrounds, Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy, “An American in Palomar,” whether culture is exploited in telling a story, what the Hernandez brothers hear from academics and fans, when people co-opt L&R as the “pro-Latino comic,” Daniel Clowes, coming up with stories just by looking at a picture, the virtues of not reading all the comics in your collection, reader misinterpretations, valuing the reader’s takeaway, the inspiration that comes from willful blindness, shifting from panel to panel on autopilot, looking back at old material, positive mistakes, and keeping characters alive and material fresh after thirty years.

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

Correspondent: Let’s talk about extreme qualities in character. I think of Jaime’s Doyle Blackburn. I mean, here’s a guy who has to be as raucous and as violent just to match the wrestling and the punk rock and Maggie and Hopey. And then, of course, there’s Isabel the witch lady, where you physically change her size. Now, Gilbert, you’re more inclined to see someone like the IRS collector who dresses in a gorilla suit in “Girl Crazy” or even the forest people in “Scarlet by Starlight,” and, of course, the representation of them in the sequel to that story. So to what degree do you feel that this transgressive behavior, this extremity, needs to be predicated in reality? How important is it to stray from real behavior? And how important is it to keep it real? How do the two of you deal with things that are almost hyperreal in service of a story?

Gilbert Hernandez: Well, for me — even if I want to do a story about scientists from the future in the forest and those animal people living with them — for that kind of story, you balance how much is going to be a part of us there and then what it’s going to be like in the future. It’s a bit of a balance. And so I was dealing with scientists and these forest creatures. So for that story, I just felt like there should be a human connection in it. Like some real sympathy for the forest people. The forest people didn’t know what hit them and the scientists could care less about them. But there’s that superficial attraction one scientists has for one girl. And then I’m toying with the whole fetish aspect of that furry thing. The fans of that sort of thing are called furries. They have this fetish for sexy furry animals. I’m getting into trouble here. And so naturally I drew the forest girls as sexy as possible. So that would trip up the reader and feel really weird about being attracted to her. But at the same time, there’s that on the surface. There’s that going on. But it’s important to have the human element within those stories, that being the most important thing.

Correspondent: But you also twist that exploitative quality on its head when you have, of course, the massacre later on in that story. It seems to me that you almost want to play with the idea of exploitation while simultaneously give into various transgressive behavior and so forth.

Gilbert: Well, I just through a bit of ugly reality in the end that, yes, even though the humans are hanging out with the forest people and they treat them relatively well and everybody’s getting along on that end, there’s that drop inside a lot of people that the moment they get the opportunity to exploit people, they’ll do it. That’s more of a criticism of people than animal creatures. (laughs) Cat people.

Correspondent: Well, Jaime, how does this transgressive work for you? I mentioned some examples at the head of that last question. How much do your characters have to be steeped in reality? And when do you feel the need to stray from it?

Jaime Hernandez: When I’m bored with reality.

Correspondent and Gilbert: (laughs)

Jaime: And seriously when I just want to have fun and goof. Like that story about Izzy growing big. I just wanted to throw a big curveball just for the hell of it and see how it would fly with the reader. And I don’t know why. But when I’m doing that, I’m really not worried about ruining the reality of it. Maybe because it’s just something I grew up with in comics. That the real life and fantasy go together. Like I said, it’s all just having fun and just goofing. But I do have the responsibility of keeping the reader there. I mean, making it real for the reader.

Correspondent: But on the other hand, I look at a story like “Browntown,” which deals with sexual abuse and some very heavy topics, and I say to myself, well, I have to ask both of you — and also in “Farewell, My Palomar” — do you think that comics really need to grapple with this extreme heft in order to really matter as a medium? Are there any areas emotionally that you have not tapped and you really see Love and Rockets going further as? It has to be grounded in reality in some way, don’t you think?

Jaime: Right. Okay, so with a story like “Browntown,” there was no room for goofing. Because this is serious stuff. And I wanted to tell a real story that, tragic or otherwise, it was just really serious. And I didn’t want to almost make fun of it. Because it’s a serious issue. When I go there, I get really serious and there’s no room for goofing. In the case of Izzy growing into a giant, no one was getting hurt. So it was fun. Everyone got to go home and live their normal lives after that. But in “Browntown,” this was serious stuff. And I’m not going to mess with it.

Correspondent: So there’s an inevitable emotional filter you will have to apply, depending on the story. Depending on how people are going to get hurt or not.

Jaime: Yes. I only goof when it’s safe.

Correspondent: Well, what about you, Gilbert? Do you feel the same way? That a certain emotional tone requires a certain narrative filter to a story? That you have to be explicitly serious or explicitly ridiculous or fun in order to actually pursue a story? How does this work for you?

Gilbert: Sure. It’s the same thing. Like he said, he’s dealing with an aspect, an unfortunate aspect, of childhood that’s real for some people. All of a sudden, our brain goes into that mode. This is going to be told this way. I’m going to leave all the goofy stuff out and all the distractions out of it. Because this is how the story’s told. Even though, uncomfortably, this is still an entertaining story. You know, he wants to tell it as a story as you’re reading the story. It’s not a lesson being clobbered over your head. This is a story about characters, but it reflects on a problem that happens to children. So I approach it the same way. I have done serious things like attempted suicides in goofy stories. And I didn’t think that was right. I thought, “That’s something I don’t want to do anymore.” Because that was when I was learning. I was learning to tell stories. And in one of the first stories I did, I decided to have a guy attempt suicide. But it was in a science fiction story. And I got that uncomfortable feeling. Well, yeah, the reader looks at it like “Oh, it was a very shocking scene.” And I thought, “Well, it should have been about something. Not just gorillas from outer space or whatever.” That’s the problem I have with mainstream comics. Because they’re always trying to elevate the superhero by having drug problems and suicide attempts and stuff. And I just think that’s not where I’m at. That’s not where I want to read that. I mean, I suppose there are good stories about that in a Batman comic. But it makes me uncomfortable to read it that way. I kind of just miss the seriousness of it. Because it’s a guy in a bat suit in it.

Correspondent: Yeah. Are there any other stories that the two of you regret doing? That you would have done differently? Along these lines that you were just learning and you didn’t really understand the gravity of what that story was trying to say. Any other examples?

Jaime: Nothing really earth shattering. But there’s parts of “The Death of Speedy [Ortiz]” that I look back at, that I could have just put a little more into it. When I did it, it felt right. Years later, down the road, I look back at it and I go, “Well, maybe I could have explored this more on this part.” And then there’s a part of me that goes, “No.” But it’s been done. It’s been over. If I want to correct it, do it in a different story.

Correspondent: Is there any specific emotional terrain that the two of you have not tapped and perhaps would like to tap or would like to try? Or that is just purely verboten?

Gilbert: You know? I don’t know what that would be. It’s not there yet. We usually discover as we’re formulating a story. As we’re working on a story that’s going to build. That’s when it comes. It’s hard to think of that ahead of time. For us. Or for me at least.

Jaime: Yeah. Same here. Let’s say I’m doing a Maggie story. It’s going a certain way. And then I start to think about some serious issue. And I say, “Well, what if I turned it into this?” And I go, “Well, it’s not…it wouldn’t fit.” I would have to think about it harder. I would have to write around it. I couldn’t put the thing just…blam. All of a sudden in a story. Maggie’s having fun eating lunch and then something tragic happens. And all of a sudden, it’s wait a minute. Wait a minute. No, no. I would have to write around the tragedy instead of just throwing it in any old time.

Correspondent: Well, both of you have resisted superheroes and referring to the comic book industry for a long time until recently. Penny Century finally gets her wish to be a superhero in the early portion of the New Stories. And I’m wondering why you resisted the whole superhero, comic book, self-referential notion for so long and why you would inevitably succumb to that impulse to portray it in Love and Rockets.

Jaime: I just didn’t want to do superheroes anymore. Seriously, I just wanted to tell more real life stuff. I thought stuff I had seen in my life was much more interesting to me. And a lot of it was not being seen in comics. And I kind of took advantage of that. And I kind of outgrew the superhero thing by the time Love and Rockets came. So by the time I did the Ti-Girl story, I just wanted to have fun with my own superhero comic.

Correspondent: The allure just kind of came back for some reason.

Jaime: Yeah. It was just for fun. I said, “Hey, I’m going to do a superhero comic. And I’m going to follow through to the end and see how it turns out.” Just for fun. Like that’s what I want to do right now. Gilbert always talks about this. That Love and Rockets has always been a comic book. He could explain this better. But it’s a comic book and whatever we want to put in there, we put in. Whatever interests us. So it’s like, “Whoa! You did a really serious true life adventure. Now you’re doing superheroes! What the hell is that about?” Nothing. Other than I just wanted to a superhero story the next time.

Gilbert: And we don’t try and elevate the superhero thing in Love and Rockets. Superheroes are a fun affectation. They’re just about fun and doing nutty stuff. And if you have some characterization in there and some pathos, there’s nothing wrong with that. That makes a story, you know? But we never think — like in the new Dark Knight Rises movie, we don’t think, “Well, to elevate this, we must eliminate Batman.” He’s in it for fifteen minutes in a three hour movie. You know, I came to see a Batman movie! Where’s his car? Where’s the Batcycle? “No, no, no, this is better than that!” Well, why do I want to see something better than that? I wouldn’t go see this stupid cop movie if Batman wasn’t in it. I’m serious. This is how I feel. The stuff doesn’t need the elevation. It goes back to the movie Greystroke, with Tarzan. It was a flop. Because it wasn’t about frickin’ Tarzan. “Oh, here’s the serious Tarzan movie. Let’s get rid of Tarzan and what he does.” And this is this dumb elevation that they do in mainstream comics, where they’re trying to elevate superheroes because they just can’t let go of Batman.

Correspondent: Superheroes are inherently silly.

Gilbert: Yeah. Or fun. Or adventure characters. That’s okay with me. I’m okay with Star Wars being about nothing but action adventure. Indiana Jones. The new Avengers movie was a success because it was a matinee film about the Hulk being funny and all this goofy stuff going on. It was a lot of fun. But then they try to elevate the stuff. And that’s what keeps me away from mainstream comics. Well, here’s the new Batman comic. But we elevate it to the drug war or serious crime stories. And I go, “Okay, but where’s Batman? Where is he doing stuff?” Batman does stuff. He doesn’t want to constantly mope. He’s in costume to do stuff! So, anyway, that aside, having superheroes and doing all that stuff — Jaime’s just doing superheroes to be fun and it’s part of our comic world. I like to think of Love and Rockets as a comic store with a lot of back issues. That’s what Love and Rockets is.

Correspondent: How much does this idea of elevation plague Love and Rockets today? I mean, in recent years, comics have become this supercommodified, maintream, pro-geek, “geek is the mainstream now” type of situation. How has this affected Love and Rockets? And how has Love and Rockets over the years been affected by economics? In terms of commercial forces. Has this really been as much of a consideration? Have there been certain storylines and characters that audiences have rejected or had to make adjustments for? Anything like this?

Jaime: We really don’t think about that that much. I mean, we just do our comic and hope it won’t be bumped off the shelf. Serious. It’s that simple. I mean, we just want to do comics that we think are good and have our share of the comic store. It may be naive of me, but I really don’t think about what’s going on around me when I am doing my comic. It’s just me and my comic, and I’m just happy that I’m able to do the next issue without starving.

Correspondent: Yeah. Well, how long during the Love and Rockets run were you doing this with other jobs and so forth? And what did you do to make sure that you got your pages in for the next Love and Rockets issue over the years? When you were doing simultaneous employment? Or has it pretty much been full-time most of the way?

Jaime: Right. Well, there was a time when we were starting the comic that it wasn’t really going anywhere financially. So I had to get a job as a janitor on the side. But then when Love and Rockets kinda started taking off and I started going, “Hey! I can support myself with this!” — because I was young and all I needed was an apartment and maybe a car. And just taking care of myself. I had no responsibilities. So it was easy to live pretty cheap with Love and Rockets in the beginning. And I was able to quit that dumb janitor job.

Correspondent: Roughly around when were you able to quit the janitor job?

Jaime: Mid-’80s. Like about three years into Love and Rockets. And I realized, “Hey, I can afford my cheap apartment. Hey, maybe I can even buy a car!” And stuff like that. And as I got older, Love and Rockets started to sell more. And I started to get more responsibility. I got married. And I started to think like a grown-up. But luckily, Love and Rockets was helping me get there. We were both growing together. So, like I said, in the carefree days, when we didn’t have any money, I didn’t care. I was just young and carefree.

Correspondent: Has the influence of responsibility and money adjusted your freedom on Love and Rockets to a certain degree? Or have you both felt relatively free beside responsibility?

Jaime: No. Beside responsibility, I’ve always kept Love and Rockets in its own safe pocket.

Correspondent: Compartmentalized.

Jaime: Yeah. Yeah. No matter which way my life was changing, whether I needed to buy a house or whatever, or raise a child or something like that, I always was able to keep Love and Rockets separate from that. I would be a dad and a husband, and then I would go away to my room and then I was the comic artist. So Love and Rockets, as far as art-wise, has always been left alone. I’ve always made sure that Love and Rockets was able to flourish artistically. Because nothing else could interrupt it.
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



NPR Music with a Love and Rockets podcast

Updated January 14, 2013


Love And Rockets (And Music): Comic-Book Pioneers Gil & Jaime Hernandez
by FELIX CONTRERAS
September 27, 2012

You could suppose that two brothers with a Spanish surname whose family roots extend to Mexico would have Mexican music as part of their musical DNA. But culture is a complex thing.

Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez are Mexican-American baby boomers from Oxnard, Calif., whose mother loved Elvis and comic books. The boys inherited their mom's love of comics while their own musical preferences gravitated toward rock — until they eventually fell under the spell of Southern California punk music.

They are the typically bicultural California Mexican-Americans or Chicanos who grew up speaking English, and whose favorite music was played with electric guitars rather than accordions. They're also pioneers in the world of comics: an intellectual frontier of words and art that not only amuse, but also teach us lessons about the world and ourselves.

In 1982, we met Margarita Luisa "Maggie" Chascarrillo and Esperanza Leticia "Hopey" Glass, two fictional Mexican-Americans created by the Hernandez brothers, who grew up on rock and not rancheras. Love and Rockets, along with Hopey and Maggie, revolutionized the world of comics. With the Hernandez brothers behind their thoughts and actions, there was no way the characters could end up as anything but bicultural.

As guest DJs, the Hernandez brothers brought in a handful of tracks that will either surprise you or reinforce your own upbringing (as it did mine), which is to say that there isn't a lot of Latin alternative music in this week's show. What we offer instead is a chance to get to know a little about growing up bicultural in this country, amid the cultural riches of both sides of our ancestry.

————————————————————————————————————————————-

Decir que los hermanos Hernandez — Gil y Jaime — revolucionaron el mundo de los comics, no es ninguna exageración. Durante esa época en la cual el mundo de las historietas estaba poblada de superhéroes heterosexuales, híper sexuales, y exageraciones de la belleza europea, su serie Love and Rockets (Amor y Cohetes) se basaba en la vida de chicas punks de Los Angeles. Varios de sus personajes eran gays; la mayoría hispanos. Una de las tiras comicas de Love And Rockets toma lugar en un pueblo imaginario en América Central.

Otro aspecto maravilloso de Love and Rockets es la constante presencia de la música, ya sea en las bandas de punk californianas en las que tocan las heroínas, o el arte que han producido los hermanos Hernandez para bandas como Los Lobos y Dr. Know.

Teniendo en cuenta todo esto, se imaginaran nuestra emoción al descubrir que Jaime y Gil pasaban por Washington DC (desde donde transmitimos Alt.Latino) en su gira por el aniversario no. 30 de Love and Rockets. Fue con mucho entusiasmo que los invitamos a nuestros estudios.

La música que trajeron los hermanos para compartir con nosotros resultó tan variada e interesante como los temas de conversación. Así que únanse a la charla: escucharemos un poco de todo, incluyendo a Pink, Elvis y Los Tigres del Norte, y también charlamos un poco acerca de todo: la política en el mundo de las historietas, porque es importante la diversidad dentro de ese mundo, y el punk chicano.
 
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          



  Rolling Stone interviews Los Bros Hernandez, Chris Ware, and Daniel Clowes

Updated January 14, 2013


Q&A: Comix Stars Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez
Four of the greatest graphic novelists alive on cartooning, bullying and Scarlett Johansson
By Sean T. Collins
September 26, 2012

Meet the men who made comics worth caring about.

When brothers Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez – affectionately known as "Los Bros" – burst onto the moribund comics scene in 1982 with the first issue of their tag-team anthology series Love and Rockets, they pioneered a new kind of comics storytelling: more thoughtful and character-based than the taboo-shattering undergrounds of the R. Crumb era, more sophisticated and wider in scope than the superhero slugfests that dominated the stands. The "alternative comics" movement they kickstarted was soon joined by Daniel Clowes, whose series Eightball allowed him to craft long-form, novelistic stories about intense and isolated characters, eventually collected in book format as graphic novels like Ghost World and David Boring.

Several years younger than his counterparts, Chris Ware made up for lost time with The ACME Novelty Library, a solo series of staggering ambition whose diagrammatic drawings zero in on devastating emotional moments in graphic novels such as Jimmy Corrigan and Jordan Wellington Lint.

Together, they're the Four Horsemen of Altcomix, the medium's most important figures. Their latest releases – Clowes's career retrospective Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes; Ware's astonishing graphic-novel box set Building Stories, in which an apartment building's story is told in 14 separate books and pamphlets; and volume five of Gilbert and Jaime's Love and Rockets: New Stories, which sees them continue the saga of their sprawling casts of characters whose lives they've chronicled in real time for 30 years – comfortably back up that claim.

With Los Bros touring in support of Love and Rockets' 30th annniversary, and both Clowes and Ware making rare East Coast convention appearances at Bethesda, Maryland's Small Press Expo (SPX) last weekend, Rolling Stone sat down to talk shop with all four – the first time they'd been in a room together since a stopover at Chicago O'Hare in 1990. "It's almost like how Hillary Clinton couldn't go to the convention," Clowes explained. "One of us always has to be elsewhere in case something happens."

What's changed since the last time you were together?
Chris Ware: What hasn't changed?

Daniel Clowes: Chris was still in high school then. He was my ward.

Ware: [Little boy voice] Anything you say, Mr. Clowes.

Clowes: There are more than three girls at the comic conventions now.

Jaime Hernandez: Some of them even draw comics.

Until Love and Rockets started, the people who were out there saying comics could be smart were almost speaking theoretically.
Clowes: I remember when these guys came along, it was like, "OK, we finally have something!"

Ware: I came along right at the time when that sort of stuff was very visible. It was inspiring to me. I didn't have to plow the field and throw the rocks out.

Gilbert: So you didn't have to read Savage Sword of Conan.

Ware: No, but I did read Savage Sword of Conan. [Laughter]

Jaime: I sometimes think, "Well, these younger kids, a lot of them don't even know any of that old stuff!" Then I go, "What am I complaining about?"

Ware: You can look at the generation before our generation, the mainstream cartoonists – Marvel and DC guys who didn't get to keep their artwork or were treated poorly. It was much worse for them, and for the generation before that.

Clowes: Who were basically slaves.

How much do you keep up with what else is out there?
Gilbert: I don't even think of anybody else in this room when I'm drawing a comic. I don't. I don't think of anything but what I'm doing. And the last movie I saw, maybe.

Clowes: If there's somebody really good out there, you'll hear about it so much that you can't miss it.

Ware: Well, there are better cartoonists now than there ever have been. I firmly believe that. There's some amazing work being done.

Do you ever get emperor's-new-clothes'd?
Gilbert: You mean like a negative response to our work – "You guys aren't all that"?

Yeah. I've seen that happen.
Clowes: [feigning outrage] What?!

Gilbert: All four of us have established ourselves pretty well in comics, so there's not much of a threat. Young guys who say [surly voice] "Wuhh, you guys are fake, we're hot" – that never happens, because they suck. [Laughter]

Clowes: There's always gonna be that resentment. I had that when I was 25: "What makes that guy so great?" But then you hit a certain age and go, "Oh, I see."

Jaime: Sometimes, even if you don't particularly like the work yourself, you can't argue with what's on there, or what people who actually know what they're talking about are saying about it. Personally, I keep it to myself.

Gilbert: I have a pretty good eye, and I have yet to see any cartoonists that do what these three guys have done, but better. Nobody's done it, because we've placed our personalities in what we do, and that can't be repeated.

Ware: That's fundamentally the goal. You guys certainly did that amazingly well. I can't think of two other guys who did it better.

Clowes: I can't imagine doing anything like what you guys do. I like to kill the characters, be done with it and start over. "Ugh, I screwed that up, now I have to start something else." It's such a great feeling to start anew.

There's been a revival among alternative-comics circles toward a new pantheon of sci-fi/fantasy stuff, like old Heavy Metal comics.
Ware: I was not aware of this.

Gilbert: I have to toot our horn again: They don't have any personality! You're not really talking about anything but escapism. That's fine, I'm all for escapism, but the reason we do alternative comics is because it's all totally from our personality.

Clowes: I have to say I have a recently rediscovered fondness for Heavy Metal. That was a big deal when it came out: "Wow, you can draw robots with tits!" It has a certain charm to it, especially the really weird, unpleasant stuff in it. All that Richard Corben stuff was so disturbing.

Gilbert: You can tell the difference between artists: Who's the madman, and who's the guy just doin' it? That's why guys like [Joe] Kubert and [John] Buscema and John Romita, who were really amazingly skilled artists, there's just nothing there other than they're just really skilled artists. Then you see Crumb, who was just a complete nut.

Clowes: Or [Jack] Kirby, who was the opposite.

Gilbert: Or [Steve] Ditko. They're crazy men. "Who let them do this?" [Laughter]

Ware: When you talk about a pantheon . . . When I went to art school and I went to the art history classes, we were taught this very specific progression of where art came from and where it supposedly was going. It was almost like these pills you had to swallow that had been established by art critics and art writers. One of the things that appealed to me most about comics was that you can pick the ones you like and build your own personal pantheon. I've never met these younger kids who are more interested in – I just said "younger kids." I can't believe that. [Laughter] Younger artists are interested in Heavy Metal – that's great. That's something else completely to start from.

Gilbert: That's what was missing from alternative comics after us: The art got less and less good.

Jaime: Less and less important.

Gilbert: It was more about the writing. Eventually people are gonna rebel and say, "Where's the good drawings?" It's in Heavy Metal! I think that's what's happened – a backlash against blandness.

Clowes: Yeah, we spawned a lot of guys who just wanted to tell their funny little stories.

Gilbert: You read a lot of good comics like that, but you can see why Joe Public is going to see The Avengers. There's a reason.

Ware: Well, that's complicated. There's a lot of reasons for that. [Laughter]

Gilbert: It's funny: When Ghost World came out and Dan was nominated for the Oscar, I could just picture someone like Gwyneth Paltrow saying, "Dan Clowes' comic book . . . "

Clowes: And she did!

Gilbert: It was the most bizarre prediction ever. I just picked her out of a hat – I bet you somebody like that's gonna say it.

Clowes: I was sure she was gonna pronounce my name wrong, but they must have coached her. I thought that would be the perfect thing, to have the cute girl in class pronounce your name wrong when you're in the Science Fair.

Ware: A defining moment.

Gilbert: And this is probably the first time she ever mentioned a comic book in her life, and a few years later she's in Iron Man.

Ware: And Scarlett Johansson went on from Ghost World to do another comic book movie.

Clowes: I have to say she had such disdain for comics. [Laughter] They were the lowest.

Ware: I find it amazing that the stuff that I got made fun of and jumped in the hallway for reading, and spat upon – literally, some guy spit in the coat pocket of my jacket – is now mainstream culture.

Clowes: I saw an attractive teenage couple on the subway saying "Should we see Thor?" When I was a teenager, if I'd said, "Hey, wanna come over to my mom's house and read my original Kirby issues of Thor?" I'd have been peppersprayed. [Laughter]

Do you have to define yourself against that stuff anymore?
Ware: I don't think we ever did.

Clowes: Well, I would say half the interviews I do, they still ask, "With all the great comic-book movies coming out, which are your favorites?"

Jaime: It's hard to shake that old way of thinking. When I get really good responses from the mainstream, I wonder, "What are they looking at?" I can't picture them looking at our comic like an alternative fan. I picture them going "Hmm, let's study this! What is the concept with this character? Where is he going?"

Gilbert: They're waiting for the punchline. They're waiting for the kick. They don't understand how life flows – it's like, "Where's the revenge angle?"

Comics are taught in colleges now – that's a big change from even 2000 or so, when art professors would insult you to your face for that stuff.
Ware: That's what I went through. Maybe it's better. I don't know if it's better, but I found it was something to work against.

Clowes: It gave me so much energy, to be rejected like that. If everything I wanted to do in art school had been indulged, I don't think the art would have necessarily been good. I'd have just been guided along a path.

Ware: Most people who are teaching art are painters or sculptors, and they're not used to reading anything. They're not used to reading an image, they're used to looking at it. Which is fair.

Clowes: They're completely separate disciplines.

Gilbert: They're also bitter and jealous because they don't have a name and we do. [Laughter]

Ware: I've fought the idea of comics being illustration many times. To even mention them in the same breath is not helpful. If you're illustrating stories, then you're not writing comics. The real power of comics is writing as you draw.

Jaime: When I do illustration work on the side, it's totally different. I'm less than 100 percent satisfied when I finish the illustration, no matter how much work I put into it, because there's just something missing for me.

When you come to a place like this, is it a "hail the conquering heroes" moment for you?
Jaime: "These are our people?" No, though yesterday Dan dubbed us the Grand Old Men of Comics.

Ware: Absolutely not, no. I find it very painful and emotionally challenging.

Jaime: Everything is so –

Clowes: Factionalized.

Jaime:. Yeah. I know coming in here that there are people who've never heard of us.

Ware: I just feel so incredibly lucky. I never, ever thought I'd be able to make a living doing this. When I was 11 years old, I thought, "All I really wanna be able to do is my own comic book," and I'm doing it. I don't have any other real ambitions. I have nothing to conquer at all.

Gilbert: Wait – you make a living doing comics? [Laughter]

Jaime: People have asked, "When did you feel like you'd arrived?" My first issue.

Clowes: Nothing ever felt better than that.

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Featured artists

Chris Ware
Daniel Clowes
Gilbert Hernandez

           Featured products

ACME Novelty Datebook Volume 1: 1986-1995
Acme Novelty Library Volume 20




After more than a decade, Rolling Stone reunite the Four Horsmen of altComix for a Q&A session

Updated January 14, 2013


Q&A: Comix Stars Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez
Four of the greatest graphic novelists alive on cartooning, bullying and Scarlett Johansson

By Sean T. Collins
September 26, 2012 12:40 PM ET

Meet the men who made comics worth caring about.

When brothers Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez – affectionately known as "Los Bros" – burst onto the moribund comics scene in 1982 with the first issue of their tag-team anthology series Love and Rockets, they pioneered a new kind of comics storytelling: more thoughtful and character-based than the taboo-shattering undergrounds of the R. Crumb era, more sophisticated and wider in scope than the superhero slugfests that dominated the stands. The "alternative comics" movement they kickstarted was soon joined by Daniel Clowes, whose series Eightball allowed him to craft long-form, novelistic stories about intense and isolated characters, eventually collected in book format as graphic novels like Ghost World and David Boring.

Several years younger than his counterparts, Chris Ware made up for lost time with The ACME Novelty Library, a solo series of staggering ambition whose diagrammatic drawings zero in on devastating emotional moments in graphic novels such as Jimmy Corrigan and Jordan Wellington Lint.

Together, they're the Four Horsemen of Altcomix, the medium's most important figures. Their latest releases – Clowes's career retrospective Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes; Ware's astonishing graphic-novel box set Building Stories, in which an apartment building's story is told in 14 separate books and pamphlets; and volume five of Gilbert and Jaime's Love and Rockets: New Stories, which sees them continue the saga of their sprawling casts of characters whose lives they've chronicled in real time for 30 years – comfortably back up that claim.


'Ghost World' by Daniel Clowes, 'Love and Rockets' by The Hernandez Bros. and 'Building Stories' by Chris Ware
Fantagraphics (2), Random House
With Los Bros touring in support of Love and Rockets' 30th annniversary, and both Clowes and Ware making rare East Coast convention appearances at Bethesda, Maryland's Small Press Expo (SPX) last weekend, Rolling Stone sat down to talk shop with all four – the first time they'd been in a room together since a stopover at Chicago O'Hare in 1990. "It's almost like how Hillary Clinton couldn't go to the convention," Clowes explained. "One of us always has to be elsewhere in case something happens."

What's changed since the last time you were together?
Chris Ware: What hasn't changed?

Daniel Clowes: Chris was still in high school then. He was my ward.

Ware: [Little boy voice] Anything you say, Mr. Clowes.

Clowes: There are more than three girls at the comic conventions now.

Jaime Hernandez: Some of them even draw comics.

Until Love and Rockets started, the people who were out there saying comics could be smart were almost speaking theoretically.
Clowes: I remember when these guys came along, it was like, "OK, we finally have something!"

Ware: I came along right at the time when that sort of stuff was very visible. It was inspiring to me. I didn't have to plow the field and throw the rocks out.

Gilbert: So you didn't have to read Savage Sword of Conan.

Ware: No, but I did read Savage Sword of Conan. [Laughter]

Jaime: I sometimes think, "Well, these younger kids, a lot of them don't even know any of that old stuff!" Then I go, "What am I complaining about?"

Ware: You can look at the generation before our generation, the mainstream cartoonists – Marvel and DC guys who didn't get to keep their artwork or were treated poorly. It was much worse for them, and for the generation before that.

Clowes: Who were basically slaves.

How much do you keep up with what else is out there?
Gilbert: I don't even think of anybody else in this room when I'm drawing a comic. I don't. I don't think of anything but what I'm doing. And the last movie I saw, maybe.

Clowes: If there's somebody really good out there, you'll hear about it so much that you can't miss it.

Ware: Well, there are better cartoonists now than there ever have been. I firmly believe that. There's some amazing work being done.

Do you ever get emperor's-new-clothes'd?
Gilbert: You mean like a negative response to our work – "You guys aren't all that"?

Yeah. I've seen that happen.
Clowes: [feigning outrage] What?!

Gilbert: All four of us have established ourselves pretty well in comics, so there's not much of a threat. Young guys who say [surly voice] "Wuhh, you guys are fake, we're hot" – that never happens, because they suck. [Laughter]

Clowes: There's always gonna be that resentment. I had that when I was 25: "What makes that guy so great?" But then you hit a certain age and go, "Oh, I see."

Jaime: Sometimes, even if you don't particularly like the work yourself, you can't argue with what's on there, or what people who actually know what they're talking about are saying about it. Personally, I keep it to myself.

Gilbert: I have a pretty good eye, and I have yet to see any cartoonists that do what these three guys have done, but better. Nobody's done it, because we've placed our personalities in what we do, and that can't be repeated.

Ware: That's fundamentally the goal. You guys certainly did that amazingly well. I can't think of two other guys who did it better.

Clowes: I can't imagine doing anything like what you guys do. I like to kill the characters, be done with it and start over. "Ugh, I screwed that up, now I have to start something else." It's such a great feeling to start anew.

There's been a revival among alternative-comics circles toward a new pantheon of sci-fi/fantasy stuff, like old Heavy Metal comics.
Ware: I was not aware of this.

Gilbert: I have to toot our horn again: They don't have any personality! You're not really talking about anything but escapism. That's fine, I'm all for escapism, but the reason we do alternative comics is because it's all totally from our personality.

Clowes: I have to say I have a recently rediscovered fondness for Heavy Metal. That was a big deal when it came out: "Wow, you can draw robots with tits!" It has a certain charm to it, especially the really weird, unpleasant stuff in it. All that Richard Corben stuff was so disturbing.

Gilbert: You can tell the difference between artists: Who's the madman, and who's the guy just doin' it? That's why guys like [Joe] Kubert and [John] Buscema and John Romita, who were really amazingly skilled artists, there's just nothing there other than they're just really skilled artists. Then you see Crumb, who was just a complete nut.

Clowes: Or [Jack] Kirby, who was the opposite.

Gilbert: Or [Steve] Ditko. They're crazy men. "Who let them do this?" [Laughter]

Ware: When you talk about a pantheon . . . When I went to art school and I went to the art history classes, we were taught this very specific progression of where art came from and where it supposedly was going. It was almost like these pills you had to swallow that had been established by art critics and art writers. One of the things that appealed to me most about comics was that you can pick the ones you like and build your own personal pantheon. I've never met these younger kids who are more interested in – I just said "younger kids." I can't believe that. [Laughter] Younger artists are interested in Heavy Metal – that's great. That's something else completely to start from.

Gilbert: That's what was missing from alternative comics after us: The art got less and less good.

Jaime: Less and less important.

Gilbert: It was more about the writing. Eventually people are gonna rebel and say, "Where's the good drawings?" It's in Heavy Metal! I think that's what's happened – a backlash against blandness.

Clowes: Yeah, we spawned a lot of guys who just wanted to tell their funny little stories.

Gilbert: You read a lot of good comics like that, but you can see why Joe Public is going to see The Avengers. There's a reason.

Ware: Well, that's complicated. There's a lot of reasons for that. [Laughter]

Gilbert: It's funny: When Ghost World came out and Dan was nominated for the Oscar, I could just picture someone like Gwyneth Paltrow saying, "Dan Clowes' comic book . . . "

Clowes: And she did!

Gilbert: It was the most bizarre prediction ever. I just picked her out of a hat – I bet you somebody like that's gonna say it.

Clowes: I was sure she was gonna pronounce my name wrong, but they must have coached her. I thought that would be the perfect thing, to have the cute girl in class pronounce your name wrong when you're in the Science Fair.

Ware: A defining moment.

Gilbert: And this is probably the first time she ever mentioned a comic book in her life, and a few years later she's in Iron Man.

Ware: And Scarlett Johansson went on from Ghost World to do another comic book movie.

Clowes: I have to say she had such disdain for comics. [Laughter] They were the lowest.

Ware: I find it amazing that the stuff that I got made fun of and jumped in the hallway for reading, and spat upon – literally, some guy spit in the coat pocket of my jacket – is now mainstream culture.

Clowes: I saw an attractive teenage couple on the subway saying "Should we see Thor?" When I was a teenager, if I'd said, "Hey, wanna come over to my mom's house and read my original Kirby issues of Thor?" I'd have been peppersprayed. [Laughter]

Do you have to define yourself against that stuff anymore?
Ware: I don't think we ever did.

Clowes: Well, I would say half the interviews I do, they still ask, "With all the great comic-book movies coming out, which are your favorites?"

Jaime: It's hard to shake that old way of thinking. When I get really good responses from the mainstream, I wonder, "What are they looking at?" I can't picture them looking at our comic like an alternative fan. I picture them going "Hmm, let's study this! What is the concept with this character? Where is he going?"

Gilbert: They're waiting for the punchline. They're waiting for the kick. They don't understand how life flows – it's like, "Where's the revenge angle?"

Comics are taught in colleges now – that's a big change from even 2000 or so, when art professors would insult you to your face for that stuff.
Ware: That's what I went through. Maybe it's better. I don't know if it's better, but I found it was something to work against.

Clowes: It gave me so much energy, to be rejected like that. If everything I wanted to do in art school had been indulged, I don't think the art would have necessarily been good. I'd have just been guided along a path.

Ware: Most people who are teaching art are painters or sculptors, and they're not used to reading anything. They're not used to reading an image, they're used to looking at it. Which is fair.

Clowes: They're completely separate disciplines.

Gilbert: They're also bitter and jealous because they don't have a name and we do. [Laughter]

Ware: I've fought the idea of comics being illustration many times. To even mention them in the same breath is not helpful. If you're illustrating stories, then you're not writing comics. The real power of comics is writing as you draw.

Jaime: When I do illustration work on the side, it's totally different. I'm less than 100 percent satisfied when I finish the illustration, no matter how much work I put into it, because there's just something missing for me.

When you come to a place like this, is it a "hail the conquering heroes" moment for you?
Jaime: "These are our people?" No, though yesterday Dan dubbed us the Grand Old Men of Comics.

Ware: Absolutely not, no. I find it very painful and emotionally challenging.

Jaime: Everything is so –

Clowes: Factionalized.

Jaime:. Yeah. I know coming in here that there are people who've never heard of us.

Ware: I just feel so incredibly lucky. I never, ever thought I'd be able to make a living doing this. When I was 11 years old, I thought, "All I really wanna be able to do is my own comic book," and I'm doing it. I don't have any other real ambitions. I have nothing to conquer at all.

Gilbert: Wait – you make a living doing comics? [Laughter]

Jaime: People have asked, "When did you feel like you'd arrived?" My first issue.

Clowes: Nothing ever felt better than that.

 
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Featured artists

Chris Ware
Daniel Clowes
Gilbert Hernandez

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  CBR on D&Q publishing Hernandez's MARBLE SEASON

Updated January 3, 2012


December 9, 2011
Brigid Alverson

Drawn and Quarterly announced yesterday that they will publish Gilbert Hernandez’s semi-autobiographical graphic novel Marble Season in the fall of 2012. The news came from D+Q’s creative director and acquiring editor, Tom Devlin, who described the book this way: “MARBLE SEASON is the autobiographical side of this great cartoonist (albeit semi-fictionalized)–where we get to see how his young comics mind developed.”

Marble Season was one of the many topics that came up in Hernandez’s conversation with our own Chris Mautner at CBR earlier this year. “I’m planning a serious, long graphic novel in the near future of a semi-autobiographical nature,” he told Mautner. “I’m going to do my best in making ‘Marble Season’ my last word on the subject.”

Hernandez continued,

“Marble Season” will feature kids growing up in the 1960s and [illustrate] how pop culture informs their interests, like comic books, movies, TV and sports. The different kids are rarely on the same page with their interests: the jock kids dismiss the comic book kids and vice versa, etc. The ‘60s setting is where it’s semi-autobiographical, I guess.

This is Hernandez’s first book for D+Q, and they will be launching a book tour to promote it next year.
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Featured artist

Gilbert Hernandez

          




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