It all started for me back in THE COMICS JOURNAL #281 (February 2007), their annual Best of the Previous Year issue which included interviews with some of the artists named. Steven Grant interviewed Gilbert Hernandez on the basis of the latter's SLOTH graphic novel published by Vertigo/DC in 2006. The revelation came with these two responses by Gilbert:
"Getting my new graphic-novel series on paper sooner. I'm doing manga-sized
books featuring sleazy, violent sex stories with no redeeming social value
whatsoever. One or two a year, if I can swing it." [page 102]
"These books wi[ll] be 'adaptations' of 'films' featuring my film actress character
Fritz (Luba's sister). They will be self-contained 'B-movie' stories, but will
read like graphic novels. The reader won't need to know any continuity with the
character, as she will be someone else in each book. This all began when I was
preparing to feature Fritz's films in L&R, but I got ambitious when I
started the first story. I wanted to start doing graphic novels, anyway, so I
just put two and two together. Art and indulgence working together once again."
I instantly thought this was a great idea, even though I wasn't really aware of the fictional film career of Gilbert's "Fritz" character, a graphic novel series by Gilbert Hernandez was something exciting in the dull world of comics. The above interview was published in February 2007, and mere months later in June the first book in the series, CHANCE IN HELL, was published. Almost simultaneously (starting in July 2007), Dark Horse Comics started publishing SPEAK OF THE DEVIL as a six-issue comic-sized miniseries (released as a collected graphic novel in 2008). This year's entry in the graphic novel series is the wordless version of HYPNOTWIST coming up soon in LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 2. However, the hardcover stand alone series is beginning to pick up steam again with the completion and publication coming up in November 2009 of THE TROUBLEMAKERS, as well as Gilbert starting work on LOVE FROM THE SHADOWS and planning on starting the much-anticipated meta-fiction MARIA M. after that. In anticipation of those, the following is a biblioblography of Fritz's "B-movie" film career culled from the pages of LUBA: THREE DAUGHTERS and LOVE AND ROCKETS VOL. II #17-20 (there may be more references in earlier "Mark Herrera" stories in L&R VOL.II), finally a complete list of titles in Gilbert's graphic novel series.
LUBA: THREE DAUGHTERS
page 58-59: "For Art's Sake" (previously unpublished) Fritz tries out for "Chance in Hell" movie role.
page 76: "Petra" Background character discusses Fritz Martinez' short movie career and "Chance in Hell" being his favorite.
page 78: "Rosalba" Fritz on the movie set of "Speak of the Devil."
page 84: "Something About Pipo" (previously unpublished) Three movie posters in background. "Mad Circus" "The Gamma Lovers" and "Hallowed Are The Seasons".
page 91-92: "Three Daughters" "I'm reading for the part of a heartleth grifter with a confident air[Troublemakers]," says Fritz.\\"They liked me in that vampire film[King Vampire]," says Fritz. "Not your big three-minute role as the bearded belly-dancer[Mad Circus]?" asks Petra.
page 94: "Day Job" (previously unpublished) "King Vampire" "Tame: Blood is the Drug" "Chance in Hell" "Speak of the Devil" and "The Troublemakers" movie posters.
page 107-108: "The Kid Stuff Kids Starring in: Down in Heaven" Four scenes and DVD case from "King Vampire" movie.\\"Yeah! Like the one where she's this whore and her john gets his head smashed in[Chance in Hell], or where she's this MILF and her stepdaughter wears a mask to spy on her naked[Speak of the Devil]," says Sandy.
page 111: "Down in Heaven 3" "Johnny Tame: Blood is the Drug" movie poster in video store window.
page 116: "Down in Heaven 4" scenes from following Fritz movies: "Three Mystic Eyes" "Speak of the Devil" "Chance in Hell" "For Sinners Only" "Black Cat Moon" "Troublemakers" and "Maria M."
page 118-131: "Luba's Daughter Guadalupe in: Another Story Altogether" "The Troublemakers" movie poster.\\Fritz on the set of cable TV show "Mind Spurs."\\Scenes from the following Fritz movies: "The Troublemakers" "Black Cat Moon: The Seven All Girl Kung Fu Killer Clones" "For Sinner's Only" "The Earthians" "Three Mystic Eyes: Silver Boots."\\A beautiful full-page movie poster for "Maria M." film.\\"Speak of the Devil" movie poster for re-mastered director's cut DVD.
page 133-141: "Luba in America 2" "Three Mystic Eyes" movie poster for Unrated Director's Edition.\\Doralis as "Maria M."\\Fritz on the set of her first starring role "Maria M."\\"Tame: Blood is the Drug" movie poster.\\"Chance in Hell" movie poster.\\"Maria M." movie poster for 2-disc special edition Director's Cut (in dialogue it is stated Fritz's niece Doralis was the screenwriter of "Maria M.").
LOVE AND ROCKETS VOL. II #17
cover: amazing color illustration of Fritz as five different characters from her movies. Can you name all five movies these came from? [Gilbert says they are: The Earthians(top); Black Cat Moon; For Sinners Only; Maria M.; and, Scarlett by Starlight(bottom). e-mail 8/19/09]
page 3-5: "Blackouting" Fritz and her Father discuss her work on "Maria M." and her possible abuse as a child.\\scene from "Maria M."
page 26: "Dumb Solitaire: God's Eye View" "Perhaps because of her increasingly heavy drinking, Fritz was fired after only a week of filming the sequel to her sci-fi epic, and was replaced by Mila, no less," says Mark Herrera.
LOVE AND ROCKETS VOL. II #18
page 16-20: "Pattern for Living" scene from "Seven Bullets to Hell" and "Three Mystic Eyes: Journey's End"(both co-starring Fritz and Mila).\\"For Sinners Only" movie poster.\\"The Magic Voyage of Aladdin" movie poster and "Speak of the Devil" and "Chance in Hell" DVD cases.\\DVD cases for "The Troublemakers" "Maria M." "Black Cat Moon" "For Sinners Only" "The Earthians" "Three Mystic Eyes" and "The Midnight People."\\"I understand [Fritz]'d been doing a lot of Spanish-language TV and there was rumor of a film comeback," says Mark.
LOVE AND ROCKETS VOL. II #20
story page 2 8-9 11 13 14 18 20: "Venus and You" "Lie Down in the Dark" movie poster at premiere.\\Fritz interviewed about her directing debut on "Lie Down in the Dark."\\Fritz on children's show "Pedro."\\creepy scene from early Fritz adult movie.\\full page of scenes from early Fritz adult movie.\\awesome page of fifteen magazine covers depicting Fritz from her various movies.\\movie posters from "Hypnotwist/Love From the Shadows(double feature)" and "Inhuman Nature."
MASTER LIST OF TITLES IN GILBERT HERNANDEZ GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES:
compiled from the endpapers of CHANCE IN HELL
- AMERICAN CULT ACTRESS
- BLACK CAT MOON
- CHANCE IN HELL (1)
- CHEST FEVER
- THE EARTHIANS
- FOR SINNERS ONLY
- HYPNOTWIST (3)
- KING VAMPIRE
- LIE DOWN IN THE DARK
- LOVE FROM THE SHADOWS (5)
- THE MAGIC VOYAGE OF ALADDIN
- MARIA M. (6)
- THE MIDNIGHT PEOPLE
- MIND SPURS
- MORE MIND SPURS
- SCARLETT BY STARLIGHT
- SEVEN BULLETS TO HELL
- SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (2)
- THREE MYSTIC EYES
- THE TROUBLEMAKERS (4)
- WE LOVE ALONE
Footnotes to Master List:
1. Chance in Hell (Fantagraphics, June 2007) hardcover graphic novel, 120 pages
2. Speak of the Devil (Dark Horse Comics, July 2007-May 2008/October 2008) first released as a six issue limited series, then collected in a hardcover graphic novel, 128 pages
"SOTD was the 'true story' the 'Fritz' movie was based on (so an official 'Fritz movie' adaptation would be pointless)" [Gilbert Hernandez quoted via Kim Thompson e-mail 8/6/09]
Could it be that this would be considered an adaptation of a documentary accompanying the re-mastered director's cut DVD of the "Speak of the Devil" film?-Gary
3. Hypnotwist in LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 2 (Fantagraphics, forthcoming 2009) 43 page wordless story in newest L&R volume (see accompanying illustration (c) 2009 Gilbert Hernandez. Used with permission.)
4. The Troublemakers (Fantagraphics, completed and forthcoming November 2009 [originally scheduled 6/08]) hardcover graphic novel, approximately 120 pages [Fantagraphics Book Distributors Catalog Spring/Summer 2008; Kim Thompson e-mail 8/4/09+8/19/09; and, Mike Baehr Flog Blog 8/6/09]
5. Love From the Shadows (Fantagraphics) in progress [Kim Thompson e-mail 8/4/09]
6. Maria M. (Fantagraphics) projected next film in line to be adapted, fictionalized version of events from POISON RIVER [Kim Thompson e-mail 8/6/09]
The depth of passion Gilbert has for these "Fritz films" is obvious from the above lists as he's built a back story for many years, and is now working hard bringing his dark vision to completion. One could only compare Will Eisner's output to this ambitious framework Gilbert has built for a series of unserialized, true graphic novels. In my opinon, Gilbert's is the harder road to travel as these books are of a different thematic current than his more famous "Palomar" series, and like the mood the artwork is much harsher as well (recalling Steve Ditko's line in his 70s Charlton horror work, for instance) simplified with a thicker line. Rather than an Eisner or Chris Ware, we would probably be better suited to place Gilbert's future graphic novels alongside the likes of genre novelists such as Richard Stark, Dan Marlowe, the ultra-bleakness of David Goodis, or even the sexually charged stories of Gil Brewer. Someday, Gilbert Hernandez might me studied along with those authors, or maybe this graphic novel series will be one facet of a long varied career.