The Art of Jaime Hernandez by Todd Hignite

The Art of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets of Life and Death
by Todd Hignite
Abrams Comicarts, 2010

A handsome coffee-table book which serves as an overdue history of the past thirty years of (Jaime’s half of) Love and Rockets, let down only by a slightly over-reverential tone. Both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are exceptional cartoonists in different ways: essentially, Jaime’s artwork is smoother, but Gilbert’s storytelling is more ambitious. This doesn’t mean Jaime’s Locas stories are to be sneezed at: detailed long-term character studies of a group of teenage Latina punks and what happens after the tide of punk recedes and they enter their forties, with some of the most fully-rounded female characters in the history of comics.

The book offers a generous combination of biography and art, including the Hernadez brothers’ childhood drawings, rare flyer and promotional material, and sketchbook pages. This detailed approach is fascinating but also sometimes unintentionally hilarious: there’s an entire page devoted to a photo of Hernandez’s drawing equipment with his dry annotations: Water bottle, thin: “This is for thinning my ink, because I’m too lazy to go to the sink to do it” and a 24-page colour strip from the New York Times Magazine is accompanied by a detailed running analysis at the bottom of the page, which is as fawning as any DVD director’s commentary.

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