I’m in love.
With the town of Palomar.
How could you not? You’d have to have a heart of stone not to fall in love with Hernandez’s creations. The characters are so warm, and lifelike, that even the ones that are supposed to be annoying (like Tonantzin and Toco) are just so loveable, you can’t help but sigh and say, “Oh you!” under your breath, even though you don’t even really know the character too well yet!
This may be due to the fact that every character kind of gets their say. One character isn’t really favoured over the other when it comes to hearing their side of the story. Having multiple story angles shows how Gilbert is such an intelligent story teller, fore the more his readers love all his characters, the more involved they will be in the story of Palomar.
I’ve always been a sucker for character development in stories. I think that knowing the psychology behind why someone does what they do motivates me to become involved in the story futhur. It also becomes more true to life if characters are multi dimensional, because, lets face it, most people in the real world are mostly f***ed up!
I know everyone goes on about Luba, who, if you had to pick a ‘main’ character, she would be it. I say this because even when she’s not involved directly in a characters story, she is always mentioned. Mainly by one of the men who has slept/wants to sleep with her, or one of the women who basically all want to pop her giant breasts like balloons. I’m not that fussed about her actually, I’m more into the characters that you don’t see that often. Like, Toco -
I like him because he’s so crass, and crazy. He speaks his mind, and I don’t know why, but I find him quite endearing. Hes’ cute and weird and doesn’t give a f what anyone thinks. My kinda’ guy really!
Isn’t he just adorable?! How funny is he?! Look at those floppy sleeves! I mean, what a great character trait! You may not be able to appreciate him without a consistent flow of panels, but, trust me – he is a pretty special character.
Probably the next character that I really dig is Heraclio. It’s funny, because I love him for exactly the opposite reasons I love Toco. He’s a good honest guy, the kind you dream of marrying when you’re a little girl. He’s also a man of the arts, which seems to be a rarity in Palomar. I guess it’s because he did spend some years away from the town and at college (or University as we call it in Oz) so he brings his knowledge of the outside world into his community. This doesn’t mean that people appreciate it though, and he is laughed at for just being a music teacher and not something more manly. The story that made me love him was, “For the love of Carmen” in which he talks about his utter devotion to his wife.
The story doesn’t only talk about his relationship with her, but with Luba, who seduced him when he was a teenager. Instead of making him into a randy teen hound, it instead depresses him, and Hernandez deals with another side to teen sex – confusion and anguish. It shows how much Hernandez strays from ‘stereotypical’ characters. He really does delve into the psyche of his brood, and treats them like ‘real’ people, rather than just drawings on a page. Each character has their on unique personality, and such big personalities at that!! Everyone from the old to the young are bursting with energy and adventure for the world around them. Actually, there must be something in the water in Palomar, as all the characters are pretty quirky and full-on…and that’s why I love it so much!
Take Carmen for instance, a girl who was found in a market in a sack with ‘Good riddance’ written on it when she was a baby. As a kid she had a filthy potty mouth, and ended up being an adult with a cruel streak, but a sensitive one at that. She’s so tiny, she looks like a dwarf, but of course, she’s incredibly fiesty, but you can tell, and I say this by also now have read halfway through “Human Diastrophism” (which is the second in the three Palomar books) that she does have a big heart, and does care muchly for those who she loves.
Or Chelo – she’s such a strong woman who has enforced the “no girl over 18 must wear their skirt above their knees” rule so that, she says, the women in Palomar won’t just be seen like objects of desire by the towns men. She wants them to have some dignity. It’s funny because, at the books start, you believe that Chelo is actually going to be the star of the show. The first panels show a picture of her (and the next, of Vincent), and reads
“As well as giving you baths for a living in those days, Chelo was also a midwife. She can tell you stories.
It was Chelo who talked Vincent’s mother Gabriela into not drowning him when he was but a few minutes into our grey world.”
When Luba enters the town, she takes away Chelo’s bathing customers and starts up her own bath house. Though in the end, it’s best for Chelo as she becomes the sheriff and all, but initially, Luba is a threat to her alpha female status, as she is younger, and has a more female figure (whilst Chelo is quite buff) – which of course is more desirable to the male customer!
Then there’s Tonantzin, who is also a slut, actually, I think she doesn’t have a rule as to which men she does and doesn’t sleep with! But she’s fun and kind of ditzy, and doesn’t take herself too seriously…well, untill she gets all caught up in the political rantings of a jailbird…but that’s another story altogether!
The other female character that really stands out, in a feminist point of view, is Ofelia. She has health problems, but even she can look after Luba’s children better than Luba can. (I think I may have to do a post on all the things I disagree about Luba! Well, that is if she doesn’t change into a respectable female characters sometime within the next few books!) She cares for them, and dearly loves them. When something bad happens to them, she is obviously destressed, whereas Luba doesn’t seem to care that much.
Well, there you have it! This blog post kind of went into more of a feminist take on the female characters in “Heartbreak Soup”, but being a feminist, I guess I can’t help that! I plan to do another post soon on -
*Why I don’t like Luba
*The men of Palomar
*A review of Human Diastrophism
…oh, and the promised one on Chris Ware…
I know I’ve been crap at posting lately, but moving into a new home has been more work then I originally thought! We’re nearly there though, so hopefully I’ll be able to post more regulary from now on!
**Disclaimer – Just to let you know, all the images in which I have put in here myself are copyrighted. Hernandez, Gilbert, “Heartbreak Soup A love and rockets book”, Fantagraphics Books, Seattle WA, 2007 **