Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just Read - Love & Rockets New Stories #6 by The Hernandez Brothers

I’m not sure how long it has been since I started reading the works of the Hernandez Brothers. I would like to say it was since the beginning, because I feel like I have been reading them all my life. But truthfully it might have been about halfway through the original Love & Rockets series. Their work was so awesome and captivating then and still is today, but I have noticed that not many shops appear to stock their work. So I thought a quick review might introduce new readers to the wonderful worlds of Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez.

Once a year my P.O. Box is graced with an edition of Love & Rockets New Stories. This year was no different, although a little bit later in the year than usual. Love & Rockets New Stories #6 by The Hernandez Brothers showed up in my P.O. Box about a month ago and was placed on my to be read shelf where it sat since then. With only one book released each year, I try to wait for the perfect day to read each new issue. And when I say issue I mean 100 page book. It’s like getting 4 issues at once. I suppose I could only read a handful of pages here and there to make the book last, but once I start reading I cannot put the book down. I ignore my family, pets, work, hobbies, etc. Reading the new Love & Rockets takes over my life.

In this issue Jamie continues his story of Tonta a young, nobody girl who is just trying to make it by in her little world, without everything collapsing on her. Tonta is the sister of Vivian, who is one of Maggie’s friends. (Maggie is Jamie’s main character, who has been absent from the book for a while.) You see Jamie’s world of characters has evolved over the 30 plus years of publication.

Do you need to read all 30 plus years of stories to understand what is going on, No, but once you read an issue you will want to. Every new story adds details that as a reader you have been curious about. We find out information about Vivian through Tonta, a character we had not seen before issue #5. The story fills in holes, expand the characters and there personalities. Jamie’s world of characters is inviting and fun plus his art is super slick and beautiful to boot.

While I’m a bigger fan of Jamie’s work, Gilbert’s work holds it own in the mix. His characters throughout Love & Rockets history are as equally inviting as Jamie’s and their stories also very captivating. In this issue we follow Doralis one of Luba’s daughters (Luba is Gilbert’s main character.) In this story we find out new details about Luba’s history through Doralis and the history of Luba’s mother (Doralis’ grandmother.)  Gilbert's characters also have a rich 30 year history that is worth checking into.
The Hernandez Brother’s work is filled with very real character, all who act in very real ways. I feel sad for them and shed tears at times. I feel happy for them and find myself laughing and cheering at points throughout their stories. If you have never read a Hernandez Brother’s story and love independent comics. You need to get yourself an issue of Love & Rockets and check it out. Love & Rockets is published annually by Fantagraphics Books.

(I feel like I have over rambled in this post and still not even touch the surface of the Hernandez Brother’s work and this issue.)

-Denny Riccelli creates comics under the pen name ‘dennmann’ he currently publishes the webcomic Cousin Harold and some mini-comics now and then, including Jenny Spookawski Ghost Girl. He lives in Peoria, Arizona with his wife and 2 kids.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just Read - Fish Head Steve by Jamie Smart

I wasn’t really sure where to start this review this week. So I figured I would go back to the beginning. I have not always been a Jamie Smart fan. When I first came upon his work, I thought he was a knockoff copycat of one of his fellow Slave Labor Graphics creators (not saying which one). Was I ever wrong! Since taking a chance on Smart’s work, I have enjoyed many of his comics both online and in paper form. I guess I should never judge a book by its cover.

This brings us to the present and my latest acquisition, Fish Head Steve by Jamie Smart. The story of a boy and his town, all of whom have had their head replace by common everyday items. There doesn’t really appear to be a reason why their heads were all replaced and there doesn’t really need to be. The book is just all out crazy fun.

The main character Fish Head Steve, has a fish for his head. There’s Cowboy with a cow for a head. Steve’s sister Selena who has a cat for a head or maybe it’s the cat who has Selena for a head (some of my favorite panels include Selena and the cat.) There is a kid with a snowman for a head, a fridge-freeze, a loaf of bread, the list goes on and on.

Smart tells awesome comic stories aimed at children that any adult would also enjoy. The majority of the stories are 2 pages in length, but there are several subplots that run through the whole book.

Smart has such a distinct style. His round white eyes with small black dots for the pupil look primitive at first. It’s amazing the expressions he is able to capture with such simple line work. The character’s arms and legs are barely long enough to see. Yet his panels are always filled with action and excitement.

The Fish Head Steve book collects the stories originally published in the UK’s children’s comic DFC. I believe these are all the strips that were created, but I could be wrong.

If you have never heard of Jamie Smart, do yourself a favor and get over to Fumboo and have a gander at his work, you will not be sorry. (A sidenote, not all of Smart’s work is for kids, even though it is all done it the same style.)

-Denny Riccelli creates comics under the pen name ‘dennmann’ he currently publishes the webcomic Cousin Harold and some mini-comics now and then, including Jenny Spookawski Ghost Girl. He lives in Peoria, Arizona with his wife and 2 kids.