Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hero: Gilbert Hernandez

I know that I'm annoying all family, friends, and coworkers with my mania for Love and Rockets lately, but I can't help it. Maybe it's in light of me recently thinking about my teen years at Dirty's. I can parallel much of what I've written in my last post to the Gilbert Hernandez half of the L&R Universe. I identify mostly to his characters and love for strong, yet imperfect heroic women. Gilbert (AKA 'beto) can be deftly political and heart wrenching in his writing and art. The bastard just made me shed a tear (a MANLY tear, dammit!!) ten minutes ago.

Gilbert Hernandez reads and draws like a film. You can't pin down one particular filmmaker, but you can tell he draws from so many. I often catch Almodovar and Fellini in some panels, and maybe Alex Cox (post Sid and Nancy work) in others and if I was familiar with Mexican cinema, I'm sure I would see a lot of that in his work as well.
But despite the fact that the comic is drawn in glorious black and white, you can imagine the colors of the backgrounds, the characters, and the very words of Glibert's Palomar or Los Angeles.

His stories and plots are always steeped in social realism. For instance, in my favorite collection of his work, Poison River, besides the political violence that ebbs and flows between the pages, there is always the ugliness of human beings that raises its ugly head. We see in the beginning that the country where Luba, one of 'beto's main characters and the main character of Poison River is undergoing the dawn of a dark political time resembling that of Pinochet's Chile or the El Salvador under the Death Squad government of the 80s.
While Luba is a child, she witnesses her older cousin, Ofelia and her friends being raped and murdered by masked right-wingers because they suspected Ofelia and her friends of being leftists. To keep Luba safe from being a witness, Ofelia shows a hiding Luba her fist to threaten the child into staying under the bushes as she is being sexually assaulted. Luckily Ofelia's attacker fails in killing Ofelia. The scene alone is horrific, but at the same time, sweet, because Ofelia, unsure of her own life at the moment, fought to keep her baby cousin alive by threatening violence. Only 'beto can capture something like that.
There is another scene that I think of in Poison River as Luba is hanging with her friends and shooting up out of boredom, depression, and loneliness as gangsters' wives, one of her friends callously injects dope into a cat hanging out on the window sill. The cat dies as it writhes and vomits to death on the floor as her friend watches amused as if she were watching TV. Later in the book, Luba herself decides to shoot up while she is advanced in her pregnancy. Luba looses her first child as a result and does so as violently as the dying cat. Gilbert captures adroitly, human ugliness and the mistakes that people make. We can judge them, or just get off on the misery, but either way, 'beto don't sugar coat.

I'm now determined even more to get back to writing. The below video footage of Gilbert going off shows how passionate he is about his and his brother, Jaime's work. And that passion of Gilbert's has inspired me to get to my own creative work.



I wish the person who filmed him let Gilbert rant on some more. It must be a hell of a thing to be the master of your work, but surrounded by meat-headed dorks who just want to read superhero comics...ahh don't get me started.

1 Responses (Leave a Comment):

Miss Carnivorous said...

I'm more a "Johnny the Homicidal" maniac kind of woman.