Innovative graphic novels and series have crossed over the comic-book boundary and entered mainstream literature. Most major book reviewers cover notable releases, and Art Spiegelman's Maus, a graphic representation of his father's recollections of the Holocaust, won a Pulitzer Prize way back in 1992. None of this would have happened if it weren't for the explosion of alternative comics in the 1980s, which allowed graphic artists to explore high art, subversive subcultures, and just plain weird stuff outside the realm of superhero tales and newspaper fare. Building off 1960s and '70s underground comix, the movement was led in part by anthology magazines like Spiegelman's postmodern Raw, where he first published Maus in serial, and R. Crumb's strange and outsider-focused Weirdo. One of its most lasting and influential contributions was Los Bros Hernandez's Love and Rockets, which originally ran from 1982 to 1996. Jaime Hernandez, who created the series with his brother Gilbert, wrote and illustrated the Locas narrative, centered on Maggie Chascarrillo, a bisexual Latina rocket mechanic navigating life in the early California punk scene in the fictional neighborhood Hoppers (based on Hernandez's hometown of Oxnard, CA). Maggie and the mostly female cast of Locas are characters of immense complexity while navigating love and life's struggles with wit, strength, and human fallibility. Hernandez's writing and character development has inspired many graphic artists who came after, and the influence of his artwork, the focus of MCAD's retrospective show, can be seen throughout the comics world. His sparse, black-and-white panels use space cleverly in an aesthetic influenced by the expressive simplicity of Archie comics — with a punk-rock twist. The exhibit "30 years of Locas (...and Counting)" will show Hernadez's work from 1977 to the present, focusing primarily on rarely seen artwork associated with Love and Rockets, including a copy of the self-published first issue. Hernandez will participate in a Q&A during the show's closing reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, August 16, and will be a featured guest at Autoptic, a festival celebrating independent comics, art, music, and zines at Aria on Saturday, August 18.
July 20-Aug. 18, 2013