Friday, December 23, 2005

Jaime Hernandez



Jaime Hernandez is one of my favorite visual artists. In the early 1980's, along with his brothers, he created the cult alternative-comics series Love And Rockets. Last year, I spent several months reading and playing cartographer with alt-comics, roughly trying to map for myself the evolution and history of the art-form. It also got me religiously keeping a sketchbook, which I still do. But more about those expeditions in future posts.

Today, I'd like to share with you a small but killer Christmas comic that Jaime wrote about a decade ago. Dan Clowes (of Ghost World) once told a story about buying a Jaime Hernandez page of original comics artwork and being stunned by how it contained not a single splotch of white-out, no evidence anywhere of a single second thought. The key to appreciating Jaime is to not treat his work like any other comic strip and zip though it just to get to the punch-line. Instead, read slowly, and watch for: (1) His wonderfully elliptical style, with its signature jump-cuts; (2) The virtuosic but minimal rigor of his pen-based line (not a brush in sight); (3) The endless creativity of his compositions (his mise-en-panel?) with their pitch-perfect balance between black and white areas; and (4) The humor tucked away into the details of almost every panel, a mark of one of his influences, Hank Ketcham. To get the most out of Jaime's work: linger on the details.

So, here's that comic for you to savor: "Our Christmas".

22 Comments:

Blogger girish said...

I was lucky to escape unscathed thus far, but I've been bombarded by comment spam lately.
Thus forcing me, alas, to turn on word verification.
My apologies for the inconvenience.

December 23, 2005 8:20 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh, and this comic is actually quite atypical of Jaime in many ways: for one thing, it's deliberately stylized and "cartoonized".
Also, his usual story-lines are adult in more ways than one. His two lead characters in Love And Rockets are Maggie and Hopey, two Latina women, one bisexual and the other lesbian, with their roots in the Los Angeles punk-rock scene.

For the curious, an excellent place to begin might be the volume The Death Of Speedy. It's the seventh in the 20-volume Love And Rockets collection. (Don't worry, you don't have to begin with vol. 1 to make sense of the story-line.)

December 23, 2005 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I love Maggie and Hopey. I even had a Love and Rockets calendar one year. I hate word verification because I often get the most difficult "words". I guess this means we will have to go without the wit and wisdom of "Ingersoll Rand". (I have to stop starting sentences with I.) (Aye yi yi!) My "word" is slkojag.

December 23, 2005 9:17 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, I have the same calendar (1990, I think) hanging in my living room: aesthetics trumps utility!

The word verification has nothing to do with Ingersoll Rand. (By the way, he is still welcome to comment here; I'm no comment nazi, not most of the time anyway.)
I've been getting a blizzard of commercial spam. I'll wait for a few days and try turning word verification off to see if it was just a seasonal holiday spam epidemic.

December 23, 2005 9:35 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Nilblogette:
"Why not take it to the limit with this vintage made-for-TV gem [The Girl Most Likely, 1973]? Lee Philips may have directed, but this movie is all about Joan Rivers. This story about an unattractive, boy crazy college student who gets disfigured in an accident, only to get plastic surgery that turns her into a raving beauty, is extraordinary."
Those stills of Stockard Channing are really something.

December 23, 2005 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Russ Lucas said...

Thanks, Girish. I have you to thank/blame for alerting me to a new Johnny Cash boxset by linking to that Village Voice article a day or so ago (it's already wrapped and under the tree for my wife), and now I'm sure that tonight I'll be pulling out the loose issues of Love and Rockets that I bought back in high school.

December 23, 2005 10:38 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey, Russ. Nice to hear from you.
One of my regrets from Toronto this year was that you & I got no chance to hang out. I hope you'll come up next year to the festival.

December 23, 2005 11:05 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Will The New World be one of the year's most polarizing movies? Seems that way: here's Dave Kehr's take on it.

December 23, 2005 12:49 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Feel like a fool: had no idea that Tony Curtis' "Josephine" voice in Some Like It Hot was dubbed by someone else...

December 23, 2005 7:44 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Okay.
The results of the Village Voice annual movie critics' poll are in.
Films.
And individual ballots by critic.

December 23, 2005 9:23 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Great, leisurely weekend reading:
Zach on key, formative cinephilic texts.
And Matt's response to Zach's post.

December 24, 2005 8:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Excellent contemporary assessment of Lolita at Slate:
"Public taste was meant to catch up to Lady Chatterley screwing her gamekeeper, to Leopold Bloom sitting on his jakes. Public taste was never meant to catch up to Humbert Humbert."

December 24, 2005 10:40 AM  
Anonymous dvd said...

That comic captures me, circa 1989-1990, with almost eerie precision. I would always go to bed as early as possible so Christmas morning would arrive quicker. And it never worked.

December 24, 2005 2:42 PM  
Blogger girish said...

In true postmodern fashion, my experience of Christmas has been mostly through representations of Christmas.
Through movies.

December 24, 2005 3:50 PM  
Blogger phil said...

girish -- nice post. Jaime's line quality is like a surgical incision. the inks in that second last panel are phenomenal.

also, i love that this page is sort of impressionistic...as if each panel or set of panels arrives like a memory montage, with only the most vague of logical connectors. its very emotive.

very cool

December 24, 2005 8:56 PM  
Blogger girish said...

So true, Phil.
And if anything, this comic has less inking than his usual ones because it's stylized to look more like a newspaper cartoon like Peanuts, etc., the "weight" of whose white areas usually outweighs that of the black areas.
The odd thing is that his brother Gilbert, with whom he co-founded Love & Rockets, has a markedly different style, and brush-, not pen-based.

December 25, 2005 10:34 AM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Thank you for that ... I visit your all too infrequently ... something I shall rememdy in the coming year.

December 26, 2005 9:48 AM  
Blogger russell lucas said...

Girish, it was a pleasure meeting you. My goal next year is to spend a lot more time at the Festival, so we'll get a chance to hang out more then.

Incidentally, I'm not all *that* far from the Buffalo/Toronto corridor, so if you find reason to go up to the 'theque some time between now and next September, feel free to e-mail me.

December 26, 2005 10:09 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Russ. Yes, I will.

December 27, 2005 8:30 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

"mise-en-page" is actualy the technical term used in print editing ;)

December 27, 2005 12:21 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Had no idea, Harry, but it makes perfect sense. Must remember that one.

December 27, 2005 1:02 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Your neologism is interesting too! ;)
It's funny that "scene" and "page" are both identical in French and English.
I think "mise-en-scene" is used for comics sometimes.

December 27, 2005 1:17 PM  

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