When a long-running comic book series rejects the timeless universe to embrace aging, the gradual crow’s feet and readjusted dreams can be incredibly moving to follow. Love and Rockets, first drawn and stapled together by brothers Jaime, Gilbert and Mario Hernandez in 1981, is currently celebrating a remarkable 30 years as a trailblazer in alternative comics with a retrospective at San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum. The series has not only embraced aging, it’s aged brilliantly itself.
Love and Rockets changed comics. Not only is it beautifully drawn, cleverly observed and assuredly composed, its pages introduced characters who weren’t usually found in panels, namely Latinos, punk rockers and lesbian mechanics. After the first few issues Mario took a step back, but Gilbert and Jaime have both sensitively nurtured their own distinct, developed casts with the kind of expansions, contractions and tangles you’d expect from ambitious 30-year storylines. After a flirtation with sci-fi (space ships and dinosaurs feature early), a kind of magic realism meets gritty urban domesticity has been the prevailing flavour.
If life had a magic realism storyline we’d fly to San Fran and check out the Cartoon Art Museum’s excellent exhibition in person. Failing that, we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of this comics legend with a load of fantastic front covers. Look and learn everyone!
Love and Rockets: A 30th Anniversary Celebration is at the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco until March 10.