Monday, March 31, 2008

Author Du Jour: Gilbert Hernandez

(swiped without permission from from RAW)

Gilbert (pronounced heel-bear-toe) Hernandez was raised in Oxnard, Southern California with his other four brothers and one sister. His father was a Mexican immigrant, married to a Texan from a family with deep Mexican roots. In her youth, his mother had collected comic books and that passion was passed on to her children. "It was nostalgic for her, I guess. So comics were always normal to us, it was an everyday thing. It wasn't until school that we realized that we were abnormal," commented Gilbert. "I always felt that I was living in two worlds. One was the little Mexican world, because nearly everybody I knew, relatives and cousins and even kids in the neighborhood, were Mexican. Then school was a different world. It was pretty ethnically mixed."

Raised on a diet of pop culture, comics, science fiction and monster movies, all the family were drawing comics from an early age. However, for Gilbert and Jamie, that childhood passion never left them, even when punk rock gripped their lives in the late 1970's. At the urging of elder brother Mario, Jamie and Gilbert self-published the first issue of Love & Rockets, which was quickly picked up by then fledgling comic publisher, Fantagraphics, in 1982 and continues to this day.

Essential Reading:
(stolen from RAW)

Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories
Imagine a novel by Gabriel GarciĆ” Marquez told in comic form, with the depth and vibrancy to bring a fictional Latin American village and it's people to life. Palomar is the intricate tale of the relationships between the citizens of that town - their lives, loves and deaths. This volume collects all the Palomar stories by Gilbert Hernandez including the essential classics Blood Of Palomar and Poison River.

"Beyond impressive. The cumulative power of the Palomar saga is arguably that of the most substantive single work the comics medium has yet produced."

"With Heartbreak Soup I had an agenda of sorts. I'm trying to get non-Latinos, for lack of a better word, to identify with Latinos as human beings. Simple as that. I think I've felt that since I was a kid."
Gilbert Hernandez, The Comics Journal #178

A portrayal of 1990's LA society centred on Luba's daughter Maricela, who is now an illegal immigrant in the USA working as street corner flower girl. It is a story that conveys the class and racial tensions that exist in all city streets, dealing with rock bands, skin heads, surfers and jaded yuppies.

"It was my version of a Maggie and Hopey story. I thought, Well, I have the same punk rock n' roll background, and I've never used it in a comic. Then that became dark and twisted, too. Something was going on with me and I don't really know where it came from."
Gilbert Hernandez, Comic Book Artist #15

Luba In America
Luba is the matriarch of the mythical Latin American village of Palomar. But now she has relocated to the USA to be with her extended family as their careers and lives develop in unexpected directions.

Recommended Interviews:

The Daily Crosshatch
The Pulse