Locas: A Love & Rockets Book, by Jaime Hernandez
Locas: A Love & Rockets Book is a collection of comics drawn and written by Jaime Hernandez, whose work in combination with that of his brothers’ made up the Love and Rockets series, published throughout the ’80s and ’90s. It’s a hardcover with about 700 pages of artwork from the first 50 issues of L&R inside and clocks in around 35 pounds, I’m guessing, which I’m pretty sure makes it the largest book I own.
The Locas (or Hoppers 13) stories follow a multi-generational group of (mostly) Mexican-American women in a fictional California town as they drift in and out of a growing punk scene. These women are traveling mechanics, professional wrestlers, writers, and strippers. They all seem somewhat exceptional, but even so, they go through the same shit as everyone else: they struggle with aging, with rivalries and attachments, and they gain weight. At the center of these stories are Hopey and Maggie, friends and sometimes lovers whose real love for each other endures through the constant ins-and-outs of their dynamic relationship.
At first, I worried that these stories weren’t going to be for me after all, since the first few contain elements of more straightforward superhero comics, and I’m just not really into that sort of thing. I also sensed, in these segments which take place in impoverished, undeveloped countries, a bit of condescension toward the locals, which really sucked. But after the first 80 pages or so, the narrative settles into more of a traditional graphic novel form and it’s easy sailing from there. It did take some time to get acquainted with all the characters, but as soon as I felt I must have missed something, that something didn’t make sense, I’d get a flashback: I’d see the characters meet/form a band/have sex with each other, and everything would fall back into place. It really worked for me.
With the Locas stories, Hernandez succeeds in writing interesting, multi-dimensional characters who I really came to care for, and will genuinely miss. I cherish the time I spent with them. Everything about them, both the way they’re written and the way they’re drawn, is refreshingly realistic and somehow comforting. Even as Maggie, Hopey and crew mature, there’s a sense of youth and adventure to these stories which makes for serious nostalgic catharsis. I can’t wait for the passing of time to dull my memory of the book a bit, just so I can pick it up and start again! I love you, Locas!