Miscellaneous Reviews:

Penny Century

(Words and art by Jamie Hernandez, published quarterly by Fantagraphics)

If the opposite to Orwell's Room 101 is somewhere where you'd put all your favourite things, then one definite addition to my Room 010 would be a complete collection of Los Bros Hernandez' Love & Rockets comics. From the wonderfully accurate characterisation to the gorgeously simplistic art, I can happily shut myself away and read them again and again. Whilst Jaime's Locas are punky takes on cheesecake charm, Gilbert's Palomar women are strong and dependable. Both men have created admirable female characters in a world dominated by bubble-breasted leggy bimbos, and their stories are full of pathos, humour and insight, which come highly recommended by such literary luminaries as Norman Mailer and Angela Carter.

Anyone familiar with Jaime's work will remember that when he introduced us to the world of punk chicks Maggie and Hopey, life was often complicated by rogue robots, broken-down flying saucers and pin-up mechanics; with such complications replaced later on by more mundane obstacles such as wrestling aunts, band rehearsals and arty parties. But despite the maturity that Maggie and Hopey have found, throughout the past two decades, Penny Century has remained pretty much the same zany girl she was when we first met her. The only difference is that she married a billionaire and somehow achieved her wish to become a superwoman.

In Penny Century Jaime has relocated the majority of the original cast to Los Angeles, and introduces us to some new additions and interesting changes. So while steadfast Ray has become older and bitter, and die-hard lesbian Hopey is not only working but also dating a man, we're also introduced to Negra, the daughter of billionaire H.R. Costigan, and her friends. Jaime seems to be setting things up so that Costigan's present wife, the eponymous Penny Century, gets to meet the girl Maggie and Hopey are calling "Penny Two". It'd be worthwhile to stick around for that.

With stories both set in the present, and also placed back in the distant past of Maggie's toddlerhood, Penny Century is a welcome addition to the Love & Rockets canon. The artwork is the same distinctive black-and-white line art which is so familiarly pleasing to the eye, and the stories flow off the page so well that before you know it you've finished the comic and are left waiting three months for a fix. This man can do no wrong in my eyes, and if you haven't checked him out yet, it's about time you did!

http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/6174/lr3.htm Mi Vida Loca: a Love & Rockets Resource on the 'net. Not the most up-to-date, but useful and interesting nonetheless.

[Load time rating: superfast ****]

Anna Jellinek

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