Hernandez, Jaime 1959(?)- (Los Bros Hernandez, a collective pseudonym)

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HERNANDEZ, Jaime 1959(?)-
(Los Bros Hernandez, a collective pseudonym)

PERSONAL:

Born c. 1959.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Fantagraphics Books, 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.

CAREER:

Graphic artist, writer, and comix creator.

WRITINGS:

(With Gilbert Hernandez and Mario Hernandez; as Los Bros Hernandez) Love and Rockets (includes Music for Mechanics, Chelo's Burden, Tears from Heaven, House of Raging Women, Duck Feet, The Death of Speedy, Flies on the Ceiling, Love and Rockets X, Wigwam Bam, Poison River, Chester Square, Luba Conquers the World, Hernandez Satyricon, Locas in Love, and Dicks and Deedees), Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 1982—.

The Lost Women: And Other Stories, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 1988.

Whoa Nellie! (collection), Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2000.

Comix include Love and Rockets, Whoa Nellie!, Penny Century, Birdland (pornography), and Measles (children's anthology).

Author's works have been translated into several languages.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jaime Hernandez and his brothers, Mario and Gilbert, known as Los Bros Hernandez, were significant artists in the 1980s rebirth of comix with their Love and Rockets series, published by Fantagraphics from 1982 to 1995. Mario, the eldest brother, was part of the team in the beginning, and again more recently, but for the most part, it is the efforts of Jaime and Gilbert, both of whom create both text and drawings, that stands out in Love and Rockets. Some of the comix included feature the work of one or the other, but most are joint creations.

The first fifty comix of the series have been collected into fifteen volumes, the last of which, titled Hernandez Satyricon, includes a variety of unclassifiable material, and stories for which Jaime and Gilbert drew each other's characters. After Love and Rockets ceased publication, Jaime and Gilbert became involved in other projects, both individually and together, and then picked up where they left off, bringing back old characters and creating new ones.

The brothers grew up in the southern California farming community of Oxnard and were raised with their other siblings by their mother and grandmother after the death of their father. They thrived on pop culture and struggled in a variety of jobs before developing their style, which includes plenty of sex and people of all kinds. In 1981, they found publication with Gary Groth's then-small Fantagraphics imprint, and their careers took off.

The settings of the Love and Rockets stories are Jaime's fictional southern California community of Barrio Huerto, or Hoppers 13, and Gilbert's also-fictional and exotic Central American country of Palomar.

Jamie Hernandez's early strips feature bisexual Margarita Chascarrillo, or Maggie the Mechanic, a DC Comics-type heroine who repairs robots and rockets, and her female friend Esperanza Leticia Glass, or Hopey. Hopey plays in a punk band, the name of which constantly changes, and the two maintain a sexual relationship.

Rachel Rubin wrote in Aztlán that "as punk dreamgirl and agitator, Hopey constantly eggs Maggie on to increasingly daring stances and feats: getting spiky haircuts, sneaking into clubs, standing up to boys and men, facing down hostile cops, and refusing to worry about whether all her antics will prevent her from catching a husband. The transgressive world of L.A. punk pushes characters to challenge the 'cloak of expectations' laid upon them, and provides the rebelliousness, the resistance, and the noise that can be a route to an integrated self."

Jeff Chang observed in Colorlines that "irreverent, temperamental, and mischievous, she [Hopey] was the perfect foil for the lovably brittle, sweetly redoubtable Maggie. Jaime surrounded them with a wonderful supporting cast, including the bleach-bombshell Beatriz Garcia, who marries a millionaire and reinvents herself as superheroine Penny Century, and Isabel 'Izzy' Marie Ruebens Ortiz, a sickly author, bandmate, and childhood friend with a Goth flair for the supernatural." Chang claimed that Hernandez's mix of characters closely resembles the demographics of most southern California towns.

Out-Look writer Robin Stevens said that "for lesbians, Jaime's work is the most compelling. The two dykey-looking heroines are irresistible.… The characters ring true, and they don't feel exploitive."

Hernandez is known for drawing his female characters with a variety of realistic body types, unlike many of the big-breasted females that are found in other comix. Maggie, for example, goes through a period of weight gain that gives her the appearance of a "real" woman. Male readers begged Hernandez to make Maggie slim again, but female readers loved the way Maggie grimaces at her reflection in a mirror and finally tosses her bathing suit.

Nation reviewer Patrick Markee called series installment "Wigwam Bam" "Jaime's masterpiece." The story begins with Maggie and Hopey on the East Coast after they have been separated. Markee wrote, "Pulled along by an invisible narrative logic, we see broken love affairs, hipster downtown artists, backstage drama at the strip club Bumpers, and manic Isabel Ortiz's desperate search for Maggie and Hopey." Maggie disappears after twenty pages and reappears in Texas in the stories of Chester Square.

Markee also noted the lack of exposure to the work of Los Bros Hernandez, what he called some of "the most vibrant literature published in the United States in the past fifteen years." He pointed to the shrinking comix market, the general failure to acknowledge the medium, and the cultural problem. Although Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States, little has been done to accurately portray Latino characters in film and on television. "In this respect," wrote Markee, "Gilbert and Jaime's work is a new event in our culture: a rich and all-too-rare portrayal of Latino lives in all their messy, unrepresentative splendor."

Booklist's Gordon Flagg reviewed Hernandez's more recent Love and Rockets installment, Locas in Love, finding that the stories about Ray, previously a minor character, are "the most poignant stories here—indeed, some of the most affecting of Jaime's career."

Time's Andrew D. Arnold wrote that "what still sets Love and Rockets apart from other books on the comics racks is how the brothers … infuse their tales with multicultural images and references."

Chang commented on the series' post-2000 revival, saying that "this second edition of Love and Rockets arrives at a time when art seems both more useless and more necessary than ever. Art cannot speak to the new horrors yet, but it must calm our souls. We will not get that from Supermen with super powers, Dark Knights with hearts of vengeance, or unelected demagogues with nuclear warheads. In Los Bros' America, the women run the place, the borders are gone, and the superheroes won't save us. Right now, anytime, it's a great place to be."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Aztlán, fall, 1999, Rachel Rubin, review of Love and Rockets, pp. 171-188.

Booklist, March 1, 1988, Ray Olson, review of Love and Rockets, p. 1088; November 15, 1988, Ray Olson, review of The Lost Women: And Other Stories, p. 529; September 1, 1996, Gordon Flagg, review of Chester Square, p. 53; January 1, 2001, Gordon Flagg, review of Locas in Love, p. 896.

Colorlines, spring, 2002, Jeff Chang, "Locas Rule: Los Bros Hernandez' Love and Rockets Is Back, and the Timing Has Never Been Better," pp. 39-42.

Library Journal, June 15, 2001, Stephen Weiner, review of Locas in Love, p. 66.

Nation, May 18, 1998, Patrick Markee, review of Love and Rockets, pp. 25-27.

Out-Look, spring, 1992, Robin Stevens, review of Love and Rockets, pp. 32-33.

Publishers Weekly, August 5, 1988, review of The Lost Women, p. 80.

Time, February 19, 2001, Andrew D. Arnold, review of Love and Rockets, p. 64.

ONLINE

Comic Book Artist Online,http://www.twomorrows.com/ (January, 2000), Chris Knowles, interview with Hernandez.*