Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Guide to Love and Rockets Reader's Guides

Leonard Pierce's 7/23/09 article "Gateway to Geekery: Love and Rockets" on the website was a welcome attempt at reaching out to new readers of Love and Rockets and trying to give them a starting point. I completely agree with Jaime's "Death of Speedy" as a good short storyline for casual readers to try out, as this was the exact point I started buying the original magazine-sized series. It's a more traditionally plotted story with the characters, such as Maggie, Danita, Ray, Doyle, Speedy, and Esther explored in more realistic detail than earlier Locas episodes (in my opinion). Flashbacks that fade in and out of the narrative are a staple of Jaime's stories, and they serve this short story arc very well, fleshing out the backstory of Maggie making us care for a character we might not have even encountered before. The ending, where Speedy visits Maggie and it's not clear if he's a spirit or still alive at that moment, is the sort of element that elevated Jaime's work from sci-fi or punk moving it more toward literature.

Another good point of Mr. Pierce is the new reader moving onto Gilbert's "Palomar" stories, also mirroring my own introduction to Gilbert's work, as early on I bought Love and Rockets Volume 2: Chelo's Burden one of the big-size softcover collections they were doing in the late-80s. That reprinted Love and Rockets 3 and 4 with Gilbert's first Palomar story "Heartbreak Soup." This is also a shorter story at only 50 or so pages, although Gilbert manages to introduce nearly all his major characters and tell a compelling love story/tragedy in a more European-style story (in form, if not theme).

The only thing I disagree with is Mr. Pierce's assertion that the various collections and series of Love and Rockets are either confusing or unavailable (OK, maybe the former is hard to argue with). All Love and Rockets collections are available from in either new or used condition at varying prices. How do I know this? Simply search for "love and rockets hernandez" and the sidebar will have a link to "The Complete Guide to Love and Rockets" by Armando Milcevic. This lists all 24 large-size collections of L&R Volumes I and II, two hardcover collections of selections from Volume I, and all seven of the newest softcover reprints which reprint the complete stories from Volume I.

Of course, the logical thing to do when having trouble finding your favorite book is do an internet search for the publisher, in this case: Fantagraphics Books . Knowing that it might be difficult to keep track of all three Love and Rockets series (not to mention all the other related Hernandez Brothers titles), co-publisher Kim Thompson put together the invaluable "How to Read Love and Rockets" this covers all the newer collections, sorts them out, saying what books overlap, lists links for separate tiles in the catalog, allows you to browse either Jaime or Gilbert books, and points out the two (only two) books that are out of print (even though the material is/will be in print in other volumes).

Would someone please tell Mr. Pierce to buy a copy of Amor Y Cohetes the new softcover collection which reprints all our beloved "Rocky and Fumble" stories and "Errata Stigmata" as well (not to mention Mario's stories which are often overlooked)! This certainly isn't a good entry-level book for new readers, more like a bonus for all of us that already are Love and Rockets geeks.

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