While you read this, you should listen to Lucero’s The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo
Last Thursday night, Sean and I attended the second lecture in Gustavo’s Awesome Lecture Series at the Fullerton Public Library. Gustavo Arellano is currently teaching a course in the Cal State Fullerton Chicano Studies department. The lecture series is an effort to take Chicano Studies in to the surrounding community and make it more accessible (read: free parking at an easy to find location).
Thursday’s talk featured Jaime Hernandez co-creator of the seminal Love & Rockets series. Even though I had to bail on a work event and go all the way to Fullerton in rush hour traffic, I didn’t want to miss this talk.
I’m a newbie to the world of L&R. I tried to get in to the series summer ‘09, but I was a little lost. It wasn’t until I read the collections as suggested by L&R publisher Fantagraphics Books that I really started to enjoy the series. Sean gave the first three collections of Jaime’s work for Christmas that year. I read them while home sick and on vacation. Even though I never lived a life like Chimatli who saw her life, friends and experiences in the characters, I was hooked. By February, I’d gone through the larger collection Locas II, featuring the later adventures of Maggie, Hopey and a wide array of characters.
On Thursday afternoon, Sean and I left work early to battle rush hour traffic on four freeways. Thanks to Gustavo’s tips, we made it to Fullerton with a few minutes to spare and took seats in the front row of an almost full room.
Gustavo introduced Jaime and started an informal discussion. Rather than delve into the “fictional world of SoCal Chican@ punks, cholos and weird, spooky unexplained happenings” (Coincidence pt 1 by Chimatli) contained in a few decades worth of L&R, Gustavo mainly focused on Jaime’s upbringing in Oxnard and the inspiration for the fictional Hoppers. Jaime talked about which comics he enjoyed as a kid and how his mother actively encouraged him and his brothers to read and collect comics.
He also gave a lot of credit to his older brother and partner in L&R, Gilbert. I was a little surprised and amused by this. As a kid and teen, Jaime looked up to Gilbert and admired his drawing and writing skills. “Gilbert always knew what he was doing,” he said. The way Jaime spoke of his brother made me think of how Danny had influenced me or how I may have influenced Lori or Adrian. When Gustavo opened up the questions to the audience, I asked Jaime how he and Gilbert continue to influence or collaborate now that they’re both well established artists. Jaime admitted that they don’t really talk about work when they get together as he is in Pasadena and Gilbert lives in Las Vegas but they do still check in and ask “What stories are you including in the next issue?”
After questions, we lined up to by books and get our books signed. Sean bought The Art of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets of Life and Death by Todd Hignite (2010). I tried not to be as much of geeked out fangirl as when I met Sherman Alexie. Jaime signed my copy of Locas II and L&R #31 (of course!). I told him I was a new fan and really enjoyed New Stories Vol. 3, especially “Love Bunglers” an intense and heartbreaking story. I told Jaime I was impressed with the storytelling and found myself reading it a few times to really appreciate the story. I’m sure I still sounded like a dork, but he graciously accepted the compliments and admitted that “Love Bunglers” was intense (to say the least).
Sean and I left feeling geeked to meet one of our favorite writers in a low-key setting.
Thanks to Gustavo, CSUF Chicano Studies and Fullerton Public Library for planning and hosting the talk. Oh yeah, and thanks to Gustavo for suggesting El Camino Real for a delicious and cheap dinner nearby.
If you’re near San Jose, you should check out Novelas, Love and Other Adventures at MACLA. The original panels for the “Death of Speedy” by Jaime Hernandez are up alongside some work from my friend and talented artist Rio Yañez.