Gilbert Hernandez: Comics “Hernandez Bros”

Gilbert Hernandez enjoyed a pleasant childhood in Oxnard, California with four other brothers and one sister. In Gilbert’s words, they were, “born into a world with comic books in the house.” His mother had been an avid comic book fan as a girl, and entertained her children with drawings of her favorite characters. Of particular interest to Gilbert was Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko’s Marvel comics, Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace, and the Archie line. A further strain was added when brother Mario smuggled R. Crumb’s Zapcomics into the home.

Gilbert’s early comics featured a passel of fascinating females, but the one who commanded center stage in every respect was Luba, who first appeared as an ambitious “voodoo woman” in the science fiction pastiche BEM. These were the kind of women that populated the first issue of Los Bros Hernandez’s Love & Rockets. After showing the first version at conventions and being advised to conform more to mainstream comics standards, a copy was sent to The Comics Journal, a publication known for its demanding criticism of the medium. To quote Gilbert, “If we can take their abuse, we could take anything.” To the brothers’ surprise, Gary Groth, the editor/publisher of The Comics Journal, offered to publish their work under the new comics imprint, Fantagraphics.

With complete artistic freedom, the brothers produced some of the most startling, original, and intelligent comic art to be seen since the ’60s underground boom. Gilbert (or Beto, as he often signs himself) soon established himself as a brilliant storyteller in “Heartbreak Soup,” the intricately plotted and deeply imagined tales of the mythical Central American town of Palomar. Love & Rockets has been translated into French, Japanese and many other languages, and has received numerous awards for excellence. The book collections from Fantagraphics have garnered almost nothing but rave reviews from fan and mainstream press alike for over a decade.

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