So, I was looking at my Dad’s bookcase the other day. Dad loves books of all shapes and sizes, he loves looking and buying, but he rarely actually reads them. Some have been sitting there for years, untouched since the day he bought them.
Back to Sunday night – I’m looking at a few spines I haven’t looked at for ages (months and months) when I see this spine -
“No…it can’t be!” I say to myself. I get closer, and sure enough – it is! Man, I wish every bookcase of every L&R fan would just spring up a book by Los Bros – wouldn’t the world be a better place if it did?!
I have to be honest, originally, when I saw this book in a Sydney bookstore many moons ago, I thought - “Ah, nah, I’m not going to buy this, it doesn’t seem worth it.” – The price tag on it was about fifty bucks, and I didn’t think it was worth that amount, when I could get a new volume of L&R for half that price. However, now that I have actually looked inside the book, I’m SO glad that my Dad unknowingly purchased such a great collection of L&R sketches!!
Gilbert’s sketches are the first to be showcased. They highlight how much he really does know about all his characters, and how he takes into account what his readers may feel as well. Gilbert’s sketches actually give an insight into how he feels about his characters, and as a reader, I found myself understanding the characters a bit more, just by looking at his drawings.
Gilbert’s attention to detail reminds me of a story I read about JK Rowling once. Her publisher said that he rang her up to ask a question about a new character in Harry Potter, one that he couldn’t understand the need of. It was only a ‘bit’ character, someone that was only in a few pages. JK Rowling then went to tell the characters entire back story, including the back stories of their family, character in which have never even graced the pages of a Harry Potter book before. – Gilbert makes me feel like he could be like Rowling, flicking through the reading the volume, I can tell that Gilbert goes deeper than just the bare facts about his characters.
Through his drawings and in the text that surrounds, he includes tid bits that only true fans would care about. I’ve learnt so much about his characters in reading this text.
Like the picture to the right – Khamo hated fried Babosas and refused to eat them when Tonatzin made them for him. Not only that,
but Gilbert includes a ‘safety’ lesson about Babosas below, which explains what happens when you eat an off Babosa. “You don’t feel sick. You get a little high then you don’t feel anything, not even a knife cut, a gun shot, fire – then your heart stops dead” Gilbert also shows us a much younger Mike Neznick, the very cool punk rock lover from the story, “Love and Rockets X.” – There is a page dedicated to him and his daughter, Kris, and there’s a great photo of her as a “2-3 yr old” dressed up like a little punk rocker. There is also a great little paragraph, written in Gilbert’s handwriting down the bottom of the page which reads, “Kris when Mike took her with him to see the Sex Pistols last gig in S.F. But Mike got hassled for having long hair and got beat up and kicked out during the opening act ‘The Avengers’ ” Underneath is a picture of Mike, with a band-aid on his cheek and baby Kris sitting opposite. A speech bubble comes out of his mouth that says, “Ahh…they’re just a flash in the pan any way…” – It’s amazing how Gilbert keeps faithful to the character of Mike Neznick, even when he’s a sketch, and how he shows a deeper insight into his past. Even though Mike was only a character that lives in one of Gilbert’s stories, and not several, like Fritz, Gudalupe and Luba, Gilbert obviously still has love and respect for every one of his creations, even the ones that only appear in one story.
As you can see from the picture on the left, Gilbert also takes into account when drawing the attitudes of his readers. I’ve heard many critics exclaim that both the Hernandez brothers are quite in touch with the thoughts of their female readers. This can be seen in a few of his drawings of Luba and Maria. The one to the left details all the things ‘wrong’ with Maria, Luba’s mother, and who Gilbert paints as the ultimate beauty (even more so than Luba) He lists all the things which are ‘wrong’ with her - possibly to the delight of female readers who may think that she is too perfect (hey, I am female – I know how we think, ok?!) The Luba pictures below are actually on the back of the page of the Maria ‘wrongs’, and shows, again, Gilbert’s understanding of his readers, both male and female. These drawings of Luba show her in three different ways – the reality, the dream – in which males would prefer her to look, and the dream – in which females would want her to be drawn. ‘Our Luba’ the real Luba is described as having “Ratty damaged hair, no make up or jewellery EVER, no hips, flat butt, NEVER goes braless unless to bathe, (breasts) blue veined, TOO big, pendulous (double ‘f’) not so firm, billowy, frantic.” All these descriptions really surprised me – as Gilbert really does know a lot about the ‘average’ female body. He knows that if a woman has huge breasts, that they aren’t going to be perky and perfect, like in a porno. He had either had a lot of sex in his life, or read a lot of anatomy books!
The middle Luba, Gilbert writes, is for people who find, “OUR Luba…too idealised, too much of a MALE fantasy [snort] and makes them feel uncomfortable, therefore would prefer a more SAFE looking Luba.” This Luba has, “Rattier hair, leathery homely face, acne scars, B.O, thick flabby waits.” Both have “Cellulite” and “thick bushy pubic hair” The last Luba, is for those who find, “OUR Luba …to UNattractive, too busy etc – these readers would PREFER a more idealized version. She kind of looks like a less cartoony Betty. She is described as having, “full silky hair, lovely LIGHT brown skin, naturally firm big, full perkily nipples breasts [double 'D']…tight, small hour glass waist, perfect bubble butt” From what he has written, it’s pretty much what every woman would want their own body to be like! All these insights show how much Herenandez has thought, not only about Luba as a character, but his readers reaction to his creation. This volume also makes me more aware of how much I do prefer Gilbert over Jaime. It’s not that Jaime isn’t awesome – it’s just that I’m SO in love with Gilbert’s amazing characters – I never really felt that about Maggie and Hopey before. I don’t feel for those girls like I feel for Carmen, or Fritz, or even Luba for that matter.
singing rock n’ roll songs. Though most of Jaime’s are full pages, whilst Gilbert has little sketches and doodles here and there in every corner of the page sometimes. It would be cool to investigate, I guess through reading “The art of Jaime Hernandez” what Jaime’s creative process is really like, as it’s so easy to see Gilbert’s way of working out his characters through the ways in which he sketches and writes dialogue (even with his characters sometimes interacting with him!) yet, Jaime’s work is mainly made up of amazing, fine drawings.
To sum up, “Love and Rockets Sketchbook Volume 2″ is pretty awesome. It not only shows the creative process of the Los Bros, but it also gives a further insight into the amazing characters in which Gilbert has created. If you are a fan, or a fan or amazing artwork, or a fan of Graphic Novels – this is one not to be missed!
I may have to track down a copy of “Love and rockets sketchbook volume 1″…though on EBay for a new copy, it’s up to three hundred bucks! Ugh!
** Oh, and just so I don’t get sued – here’s the credits -
Love and rockets sketchbook volume two, Fantagraphics, Seattle, WA, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, 1992