Locas II is a collection of stories starring Jamie Hernandez’s characters Maggie, Hopey and Ray from after the end of Love and Rockets volume one. I much prefer encountering the Locas stories in this format. When I got the original individual comics, in this case short run mini serials and, later, Love and Rockets Volume Two, I would forget important details between the quarterly issues. In this, and the previous volume, subtly delivered plot, character and relationship points, many of which are left hanging for years in real time, are much easier to appreciate.
Locas II collects ten years worth of stories. When the previous volume did this, the improvement in Hernandez’s writing, characterisation and drawing was noticeable, but in this volume, it’s amazing how perfectly formed his work is from the start. Hernandez knows every character so completely and draws them so exquisitely and tells their stories so perfectly it’s like he’s God channelling the utterly real into my own, shallow, two dimensional, grubby little world. It’s the benefit of encountering Locas in this 400 paged, hardback manner; it enables the reader to appreciate more fully what a stunning body of work Hernandez has produced.
I bought the first issue of Love and Rockets when it came out. Not one of the many reprints that appeared throughout the eighties, I mean the first issue proper. It’s a comic fact about myself that I’m surprised has never got me laid. (There’s still time, I suppose). During the first volume, I felt I knew girls just like Maggie and Hopey, they were so convincing. Now, encountering these characters again years later, it’s like an old school reunion. It’s great to know although they’ve been through some pain over the years that they’re fundamentally all right and that time has been kind to them physically. Ray, a character who I don’t remember particularly from my most susceptible exposure to the original comic but do from the previous Locas book, is the character most like me. It’s great for Hernandez to deliver a character I can identify with who hovers on the outskirts of Maggie and Hopey’s lives wanting to find a way in, just like I do. Hernandez makes me want to move to LA and hang out with these people… Or at least watch them from a safe distance. The new characters are great too. I developed a soft spot for the modestly used Guy Goforth but it’s ‘Frogmouth’, the Amazonian beauty with a foul mouth, who rules this volume as far as I’m concerned. Her narrative is funny, scary and heartbreaking.
I don’t feel I have the faculties as a reviewer to express how delightfully perfect Jamie Hernandez’s Locas is. I sincerely didn’t want this volume to end. Now that it has, I want to re-read the first volume, then volume two, then volume one again, and keep doing this until volume three appears, no doubt years from now. I keep thinking that Locas should have a more general appreciation and respect from the world that gushes about TV shows like The Wire. It’s as good as that show, in fact it’s probably better, and I say this as somebody who loves The Wire. I keep thinking of it a being as perfectly rendered and as monumental as Charles Schultz’s Peanuts. Every line drawn and spoken is perfectly placed. Perfect. That’s the word I keep using for Locas; perfect.
Cost; I used the credit I got for the returned soft cover version of Alec The Years Have Pants to order this from the Waterstone’s website. It only cost me a pound more. But even at its retail price of £29.99, it’s fantastic value for money.