Saturday, December 20, 2008

Blood of Palomar ***

Written and Illustrated by Gilbert Hernandez
Volume 8 of the Complete Love & Rockets
Original series 1987,1988
This Edition 1989 Fantagraphics Book s, Inc
117 pages + black and white illustrations of original cover

I read my first Love and Rockets in high school. So it must have been about 1980 or 1981. I remember enjoying the illustrations - especially the large breasted, half-naked, beautiful Latina women that were drawn in compromising positions. What red blooded male teenager wouldn't? I also remember that some stories were easier to follow that others. In fact the more I read, the more I realized that the majority of stories were difficult to follow. Consequently, over the years, while tempted to pick up material by the Hernandez brothers, I usually took a pass.

After a shout out from Junot Diaz in his book The Brief and Wondrous life of Oscar Wao a friend of mine convinced me to give it another try - and I did.

And it is complicated and convoluted. There is a cast of characters so large that at the beginning of the book, the author has to map the characters out. And then most of the story lines seem, at first, unrelated. No wonder I was so confused as an adolescent! And imagine that I only had part of the story line in my hands while reading it. But they do come together perfectly and the readers patience is rewarded with pure beauty and poetry. All in a comic book! There is a subtleness and emotionality that one doesn't expect in this media.

So here's the plot. First there's Luba, a large breasted middle aged Mexican woman with a bundle of children fathered by various men. But she is no doormat! Men want to have and possess her, but she will have none of it. Meanwhile there appears to be a serial murderer about and people are dying and disappearing.

Mean while, it appears that one of a pair of beautiful twin sisters has gone mad - bonkers. She's taken to dressing half-naked in native clothing or costume. Everyone thinks she's brainwashed into political socialism or communism by an ex boyfriend but it appears she got her ideas on her own.

Okay, that's enough of an outline. It's not that I worry about giving away the spoiler, its just too darn complicated to try to put it together.

As a recommendation, I suggest reading a whole graphic novel instead of reading the individual comics piecemeal. They are just too complicated.

I tried to find some images, but I didn't want to be stepping on anyone's copyright toes. Go to the Fantagraphics Web site to see some images.

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