|The characters of Gilbert Hernandez’s new Vertigo graphic novel, Sloth.|
In fact, Beto may be the more prolific of the two, having just released a graphic novel that, unlike most Los Bros books, isn’t drawn from the pages of the Love & Rockets comic. Sloth was released by DC’s edgy imprint Vertigo, and has nothing to do with the L&R universe of Palomar and Luba (the female characters are even proportioned like human beings). While it covers some familiar territory — Mexican folklore, immigrant communities, magical events, and rock ’n’ roll — the story feels fresh and singular. It’s the kind of work fans probably expected more of when the brothers ended the first L&R series to pursue other projects before relaunching Volume Two a few years ago.
Speaking of the brothers’ famous comic series, one continuing frustration for the artists and their publisher is that newcomers have a hard time figuring out where to start reading their work. Releasing the Locas and Palomar tomes did a lot to sort things out, but Fantagraphics knows not everybody will spend 40 or 50 bucks on a comic book. Consequently, they’re planning to reconfigure the series’ 15 trade paperbacks (which are themselves reprints collecting multiple issues of the comic) into a line of seven manga-sized (7-by-9-inch) volumes that collate each brother’s stories in a newbie-friendly way.
That project is scheduled to start in January. Meanwhile, the 20th issue of the magazine will reprint La Maggie La Loca for Jaime fans who don’t get the Times; Fantagraphics spokesman Eric Reynolds says that while he can’t guarantee it, he believes it’ll be printed in color as it is in the NYT’s mag.
Fans who are as wowed by that coloring job as I am should check out the cartoonist who did it: Steven Weissman — whose own work has little to do with Jaime’s, except that both have an affinity for grown-up cartoons with little-kid protagonists — has released a handful of collections in a series called Yikes. The latest, Chewing Gum in Church, is printed in full color and focuses on four-panel gag strips. They aren’t necessarily stuff you’d hide from young readers, but they’re not Calvin and Hobbes either: A typical strip shows a little girl watching an ant and imagining what its life is like, only to squash it in the last panel. The cute-cringe balance here is a bit hard to convey without letting you soak it up firsthand.
Lastly: While Jaime Hernandez is waiting to see his mainstream-press outing collected into a graphic novel, another hip cartoonist’s ephemeral work is being gathered in a glossy hard cover: Joe Sacco’s But I Like It, which naturally has a rock ’n’ roll theme, offers all manner of non-political work he did before going the comic-journalistic-memoir route with such acclaimed work as Palestine. See the apparently drug-induced layouts depicting life on the road with a rock band; marvel at some of the now-embarrassing record covers and fliers he penned for bands like Mudhoney and Thin White Rope; be grateful that someone took the time to translate strips written for German publications that surely would never have seen these shores had Sacco not crossed into the consciousness of the “legit” media. Then remind yourself that the guy having these misadventures once covered war-crime trials at the Hague for Details magazine.