There’s something effortless about the comics of Jaime Hernandez. Both in storytelling and art, his Love and Rockets books glide smoothly, seamlessly along – perfect little vignettes into imagined lives.
This isn’t to say Hernandez doesn’t work hard at his craft. Take a deeper look at efforts like his latest collection, The Education of Hopey Glass (Fantagraphics, $19.99) and the attention to detail becomes eminently clear. But unless you will yourself toward that cause, it’s only too easy to slide right into the story and only come up for a breath when the last page has been flipped.
The first half of Hopey Glass is a particularly good example. More than just a glimpse into an unsettled life, Hernandez casts Hopey as a deeply shallow young woman suffering in the transition into adulthood, maturity and responsibility.
When her hedonistic impulses butt up against her new job as a teacher’s assistant, Hopey faces the pull of each world, and her anguish is palpable.
The book falters, though, when it suddenly drops that story and picks up the journey of Ray in his quest for women and success. While still a quality piece of comics, it’s much less compelling than Hopey’s story. And so the book as a whole becomes an incomplete puzzle, a collection of great but unfinished pieces.