Tagged: I Love (And Rockets) Mondays

Hypnotwist / Scarlet by Starlight by Gilbert Hernandez

I feel like we’re all just supposed to know how to read Gilbert Hernandez’s “movie books,” even though they’ve never been clear, and their publisher (Fantagraphics) has stopped even mentioning the movie connection. These days, it seems to be just the distinctive end-papers that give us a clue, and then we’re on our own.

You see, Hernandez has been writing stories, in the various comics mostly named Love and Rockets, about a group of people, originally centered on the residents of a small South American town of Palomar though in recent decades shifting to the extended Southern California family of a woman named Luba who lived in Palomar for a long time. Luba’s younger half-sister, Fritz, had a career as a film actress: not a great career, and not a lasting one, but she made a bunch of movies. And Hernandez has not just told stories about Luba and Fritz and others – stories in their world, meant to be “true” as much as any fiction is – but also told stories retelling those movies, telling stories that are meant to be seen as fictional from a fictional world.

It’s complicated and knotty, and not explaining it in the books themselves makes it even weirder and complicated. The most recent, and most major, Maria M. , was the height of convolution, telling the movie version of Fritz’s mother’s life (with Fritz in that “role”), which readers of Love and Rockets had already seen the “real” version of, years before. Prior movie books were from “earlier in Fritz’s career,” when she did pulpier, less ambitious….OK, let’s say bluntly bad and derivative and exploitative movies: Chance in Hell and The Troublemakers  and Love from the Shadows . (And I can’t explain explain clearly how Speak of the Devil fits into this schema, either — I think it’s the “real” version of a story not about Fritz and Luba and company that was also made into a movie with Fritz, and maybe we saw some parts of that movie made in the main series.)

Hernandez was most active with these stories just over a decade ago – the first burst came out roughly every year, 2007 and ’08 and ’09 and ’11. Maria M. took longer to gestate. And, along the way, Hernandez also made two shorter movie stories, which have now been collected together in flip-book format.

That is Hypnotwist Scarlet by Starlight , both of which “star” Fritz as a major role, though (and maybe this is meaningful?) she doesn’t speak in either story. One is a pretentious movie that I don’t think Hernandez expects us to take entirely seriously. The other is a pulpy genre exercise.

And I still don’t get the point of either book, or of this entire sequence. Is it meant to be some kind of parallax view of specific events in the “real” story? Are they just goofy, clear-the-decks stories that Hernandez wants to get out of his head, and this is a way to tie them in? Or what?

Hypnotwist is the longer story, 59 pages long: it’s some kind of art film with no narration or dialog that follows a woman who may be dreaming, or sleepwalking, or hallucinating, or something. A sequence of surreal things happen, some of them sexual and/or violent, with some other characters reappearing and a central image of a creepily smiling face. Oh, wait! I forgot the magic shoes! She gets magic shoes at the beginning, and that might explain it all. If anything can explain anything here.

(You might have gathered that I don’t get this at all. Hernandez has done a bunch of dream-logic stories in his career, and I like looking at them and appreciate the visual inventiveness but never get anything specific out of any of them.)

Scarlet by Starlight is tighter, a ’50s-style space opera movie in 37 pages of comics – though, in the world of L&R, I guess it was made in the late ’90s. Three Americans are on an alien planet, researching something or other, two men and a woman. There are two seemingly-sapient races here, though neither can speak: the human-height and furred Forest People and the dwarfish pinkies. The humans have befriended the Forest People – well, at least the couple Scarlet (female, Fritz’s character) and Crimson and their children. The pinkies, though they seem to be more organized – they have a village with buildings, and a much deeper curiosity about the human’s technology – are considered basically vermin.

But then Scarlet comes into heat, I guess, and tries to have sex with one of the Americans, and it all goes to hell. There’s a lot of Hernandezian violence until the survivors are able to regroup with a Hollywoodesque happy ending. Again, Hernandez is not trying to present this as a good movie: rather the reverse.

I get the sense that Hernandez makes these stories either to scratch an itch to tell junky stories or to comment on junky stories, but I have no idea which, or if it’s both, or if those are the only two possibilities. I enjoy the way he moves characters around and evokes junky movies without ever getting a clear sense of why he thought spending months of his time to do this would be worthwhile.

It’s weird, man. The “movie books” are just an odd sequence of stories

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, and these two are the very weirdest of that sequence. People who like weird should dive in here; this book is about as bizarre and random as Hernandez gets.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Is This How You See Me? by Jaime Hernandez

Two years later, here’s a one-shot I Love (And Rockets) Monday — because the Brothers Hernandez have kept making comics, and those comics do make their way into books eventually, and even more eventually I will read them.

Is This How You See Me?  collects a Jaime story that ran from the end of the book-size annual New Stories into the beginning of the current magazine-sized Vol. IV comic. And I covered it, more or less, in the last post of the main run of I Love (And Rockets) Mondays.

The story? Maggie and Hopey, now pushing fifty (possibly from the other side) head back to Hoppers together for a punk reunion that neither one of them is all that enthusiastic about.

Well, Hopey is never enthusiastic in a positive way about anything: she was a ball of chaos in her youth, and has settled into a cynical sour middle age. Maggie is more mercurial, as usual, wanting to believe that things will be wonderful but continually remembering all of the other times she believed that things would be wonderful and they weren’t.

So they both know that you can’t go home again. And they don’t live that far from home to begin with: they didn’t get that far or do that much, all of their dreams of rock ‘n’ roll or prosolar mechanicdom to the contrary. We don’t know what their old friends do for a living, exactly, but we suspect they’re more successful: Terry has been making music all this time, at least successfully enough to have a career as a leader of various bands. And Daffy was never as punky as the rest, a girl from the nicer side of town who went off to college and seems to be solidly in the professional/managerial class. (Remembering that Maggie manages an apartment building and Hopey is a teacher’s aide — both jobs they fell into in mid-life when other things fell apart.)

None of that is text, but it’s definitely subtext. Punk was one of the regular youth-fueled screams of rage and rebellion, giving voice to people who felt like their lives had no good options. And they were not wrong.

But we all have to live our lives, not just protest them. Punk bravado burns out, or starts looking silly. Maggie and Hopey are long past the point where punk attitude was relevant to their lives, so this is like any other reunion: wondering who will be there, whether any of it will be worth it, whether it can provide any of those moments of clarity we live for.

This reunion is scripted by Jaime Hernandez. So there will be moment of clarity, for us as readers if not for his characters. I’m afraid Jaime’s central characters are cursed to never have clarity: that may the most central thing about Maggie and Hopey. They will never really understand themselves, or each other.

Well, I may be wrong. They’re getting older, and they’re getting better at seeing clearly.

This is the story of one weekend in about 2016, with flashbacks to 1979, when the two girls were young and fearless and something that passed for innocent and damaged in different ways than their middle-aged selves. I can’t say if it will be as heartbreaking for people who can’t remember 1979 — who haven’t lived fifty or so years themselves. I think so: I think Jaime is that good. But it has more punch the more of this connects with you personally, like any good art.

The more any of us live, the more regrets and what-ifs we accumulate. They can overwhelm us, I guess, if we let them. Is This How You See Me? is about wandering through those piles of regrets and what-ifs without actually talking about them, about seeing where you are this year and looking back in wonder and surprise and awe at who you were forty years ago.

It does not have the electric shock of The Love Bunglers. It’s a quieter book, a middle-aged book. But it’s just as strong, just as true, just as real. And Jaime Hernandez is still one of our best storytellers, working fearlessly in a form he’s made his own.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #365: Love and Rockets, Vol. 4: Issues 1-6 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez

This is not a book; this post breaks one of my silly self-imposed rules. (I’m just noting that up front. I’m not going to do anything about it.)

The fourth run of Love and Rockets  returned to a magazine size and a periodical publication: there have been six issues since it was launched in 2016. So, to close out I Love (And Rockets) Mondays for the year, I thought I should look at the most recent material, to see what the Locas and Luba’s family are doing with themselves right now.

Each issue has 32 pages of comics (plus four pages of ads or other editorial matter; there’s usually a letters page), so, as of about a month ago, there are 192 pages of new Hernandez Brothers comics, roughly the size of one of the individual graphic novels.

Like New Stories, or like any serialization, this is work in progress, mostly middles of stories. The only major break from New Stories is the new logo (seen to the left; it changed slightly for issue two and later) and the altered credit line — Gilbert and Jaime finally get their first names on the cover after thirty-five years. (And it has been consistently alphabetical, or maybe age order, for all six issues to date.)

As with New Stories, they alternate covers. Like the classic magazine series, the other brother contributes a back-cover. For the new century, though, there are also variant covers — several for the first issue, and a Fantagraphics-exclusive for all of them to date. (If I were a retailer, I would not be happy at all if a publisher had a cover only available for purchase directly from them, and so I’m happy I’m not a retailer.)

The stories continue from New Stories as well: Jaime finishes up the Maggie-and-Hopey-go-to-a-punk-reunion in the sixth issue, has a little more with Tonta and her gang, and continues the baffling and now apparently standalone adventures of Princess Anima in space. Gilbert milks the lots-of-Fritz-clones story for the first couple of issues, and then drops it to focus on Fritz’s long-unknown twin daughters. (Unknown to the reader, unknown to each other, but one was, retroactively, not unknown to her mother.)

I’m finding the Jaime material of this era generally more successful — the Maggie and Hopey story is another strong one, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes together in a single book. Tonta and her friends are still goofballs, though, and their stories are, I guess, more slice-of-life than anything else: they don’t seem to be going anywhere. And I think the Princess Anima stuff needs to have an ending before I have any clue what it’s going to be: it feels to me like Jaime is doing a Gilbert-style id-fueled SFnal story, without long-term plots and driven by immediate momentum. There are interesting bits, and he as always draws wonderfully, but I’m not sure if there’s a there there.

Gilbert, on the other hand, is doing a lot of quirky things with his drawing, not all of which are immediately working: using heavier borders for flashbacks, for example, which he felt he needed to explain in the stories. I also noticed some deliberately stiff layouts and “camera” movements: there’s one sequence where Killer and Jimmy stand stock still for several panels while the viewpoint rotates around them one quadrant at a time, and a number of places where he lines up faces repeatedly. As in the late New Stories era, he’s also spending a lot of time in these stories having his characters face each other and talk through the same things over and over again — Killer is now a singer, let’s run through the top 10 Fritz impersonators for this issue, Baby/Rosario and Rosalba are twins and here’s how they were separated, Fritz has never done porn but there are rumors she has, and so on and on and on.

I suspect he’s been getting letters about some aspects of this — or maybe somewhat different complaints — because he has stories titled things like “Fritz Haters Will Just Have to Be Patient” and “More for the Haters.” He’s also drawing “must be 18” censor-boxes over the naked chests of his female characters a lot, sometimes in art on the walls — which I thought was a quirky, fun choice; maybe a comment on the art-world — but also sometimes in characters actually in the stories, which is more metafictional. Jaime has drawn nipples in the same issue, so it’s not an obvious issue of censorship — just another artistic choice that isn’t quite clear yet.

But Gilbert wrote his way out of the swamp of Too Many Fritzes, and the last couple of issues sees more lightness to his work, as it opens out to more of the cast and shows changes in their lives. He’s still doing the people-standing-still-and-talking-at-each-other thing, but it wouldn’t be Gilbert without some odd artistic choices.

Love and Rockets the periodical was always like that, though. The books organize and coral the material, putting all of the wild-hair ideas into separate volumes and allowing the larger stories to stand alone. But the ongoing comic, in whatever format, is full of pieces of story in any era — Tonta or Rocky, Errata Stigmata or Mila — and those don’t always turn into anything nicely book-shaped. We read Love and Rockets because both Gilbert and Jaime are great cartoonists, with a few touchpoints in common, and because even if we think what one of them is doing this year isn’t all that great (Too Many Fritzes, Adventures of the Ti-Girls), it’s always going to be at least an interesting, unique failure.

It’s been going thirty-five years so far, in various formats. I can hope for thirty-five more, can’t I? To see what ninety-something Jaime and Gilbert will be doing?

Note: this is day 365, but it’s not the end of Book-A-Day. Look for a post-mortem tomorrow listing the whole series…and about fourteen more daily Book-A-Day posts running through mid-January, since there’s stuff I read in 2018 that I haven’t gotten into that format yet.

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Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #358: Birdland by Gilbert Hernandez

This is not a Love and Rockets book; I’ve run out of those. But it’s a first cousin to Love and Rockets, featuring characters who first appeared there and a group of characters who later appeared there in a slightly different arrangement.

It’s also chock-full of sex, which might be why it’s not in print these days: sex has migrated almost entirely to the electronic realms for the 21st century, since print can’t keep up and is pirated within seconds. (Other possible reasons: Hernandez or his publishers think it wouldn’t be good for his current career, normal book/comics outlets have gotten more prudish over the past couple of decades, or the stars are not quite right.)

Anyway, this is Birdland . It’s an unabashedly pornographic comic by Gilbert Hernandez, originally published as a three-issue miniseries by Fantagraphic’s spin-off smut-publishing line Eros in 1990, with a loosely-related mostly-silent one-shot in 1994. I read the 1999 printing of the trade paperback collection, which has what I think are all of the Birdland pieces together.

It’s set in a porno next-universe-over version of his Palomar/Luba world, circa 1990: Inez and Bang Bang are strippers at Polka Parade, a young Fritzi is a therapist and her sister Petra is her receptionist. The central male character is Fritzi’s husband — at this point, her only one, but that would change in the regular continuity — Mark Herrera, though his brother Simon is also important. There’s also La Valda, another stripper for the competing club Stinky’s who “steals Bang Bang’s act” (said act, in toto: looking like she does, dancing naked, band-aids over her nipples) and Stinky’s doorman Pee Wee, so there can be another man for the sex scenes.

The plot is loose and semi-random, but it’s more than just an excuse for the sex scenes: Birdland feels like Hernandez turned up the sex knob on his work to eleven, then broke it off and jammed it even further up with pliers. It’s more explicit — very explicit, with lots of spurting bodily fluids and engorged appendages being rhythmically inserted hither and yon — but it’s all embedded in one of those Beto obsessed-with-the-wrong-person plots.

Since the knobs are jammed up past eleven, everyone is obsessed with sex with the wrong people: Fritzi has frozen out Mark for unexplained reasons, but he’s having affairs with both Inez and Bang Bang while pining for his wife. Simon is obsessed with Fritzi, and sleeping with Petra as the next best thing, which is fine because she’s obsessed with Mark in turn. Fritzi’s practice consists entirely of hypnotizing her (all male) patients and having sex with them while they’re under — before long, Petra learns the truth and gets into the action, too. And then there are the aliens, who wander around the edges of the beginning of the story before abducting everyone for the literally climactic ending of the original mini-series, as everybody gets it on with everybody for a cathartic release before returning to earth to ring more changes on the same relationship problems.

Hey, it’s a sex comic: you have to expect that it’s going to be full of sex. Birdland‘s sex isn’t the zipless fucks of the usual stroke book: Hernandez’s characters are obsessives, and endlessly talk about who they love and want and can’t have even while bopping with the wrong person.

In a lot of ways, Birdland feels like unfiltered Gilbert Hernandez: all of the sex, all of the surrealism, all of the random connections, all of the quirky spirituality. Whether it really came out that way or if he carefully crafted it to look that way doesn’t matter as much — either way, this is close to peak Beto, right in the middle of his career. If you’re interested in his work, and aren’t turned off by the pervasive sex, Birdland is a book you need to pay attention to. (Assuming you can find it.)

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Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #323: Julio’s Day by Gilbert Hernandez

I spend more time than is reasonable worrying if I’m doing things right. Even worse, often what I mean by “right” is “fitting the rules I made up myself, which I haven’t bothered to clearly codify.”

Obviously, a healthy person would not spend time on anything like that, but I am a blogger, and so clearly not that healthy.

So my first question after reading Gilbert Hernandez’s standalone 2013 graphic novel Julio’s Day  was whether it really counts as Love and Rockets. Oh, sure, two excerpts from it appeared first in the New Stories paperback series, but most of this story didn’t, and it has no connections with any of his other L&R work. (On the other side of the argument: a lot of his L&R work has no connection to the rest of his L&R work; he’s been more likely to go off on tangents than his brother Jaime.)

Since I’m writing this here now, you’ve probably already assumed that I decided it counted. And I did. But I had to worry the issue for a while first.

The next big question is whether it’s way too reductive to call Julio’s Day the story of the hundred-year-life of a completely closeted Mexican gay man. And that’s a nice label, but it doesn’t reflect what the book is actually about. Julio himself isn’t really all that central to his own story to begin with: he’s pretty colorless for a Gilbert Hernandez protagonist, overshadowed his entire life by the more vibrant members of his family.

As usual for Hernandez, “vibrant” is not at all the same thing as “positive.” Julio’s uncle Juan is one of the most distinctive characters here, and he’s a deeply damaged person, compelling to sneak away with baby boys and do unspecified things with them. The rest of Julio’s family, and the few others they interact with, are quirky in similar Gilbert Hernandez ways, but Julio himself remains transparent, the void at the center of his own story.

Like Palomar, this town is somewhere in Latin America. Also like Palomar, Hernandez will not be any more specific than that. Julio’s life matches pretty closely to the twentieth century, from small bits of internal evidence, but that’s all background: Julio is not involved in any great issues, and barely any small issues. He just lives here, for a long time, while other things happen around him, mostly far away.

There’s a hundred pages of incidents and no real overall plot: this is a story of episodes, moments over a hundred years when Julio was there to witness them. (Or was somewhere else: the two pieces published in L&R follow other members of his family on journeys, first his father and then his grand-nephew.)

In typical Hernandez fashion, there are bizarre, horrifying diseases and deaths, and many random, mostly unhappy events — a long life in a Gilbert Hernandez story is a sequence of sad and shocking moments, ended only by death.

The title is ironic at best, as well: not only is this the story of a hundred years, not a single day, but Julio never really had a day, either literally or metaphorically. His grand-nephew poses that question to him near the end, and that’s the source for the title — but Julio was never in the right time or place to seize that day, and maybe was never the person who could have seized that day.

Does that make Julio’s Day a cautionary tale? It’s not focused enough for that, and I think Hernandez would deny that impulse — he’s never been one to make a single lesson with a story. Gilbert Hernandez stories aim for the complexity and confusion of real life: too many things happening to too many people to turn it into a single narrative, and all of the lessons possible in there somewhere.

And I suspect Julio’s Day is the kind of book that rewards multiple readings, to trace the connections, personal and visual, over this long century, from the moment Julio opens his mouth to be born until the moment his mouth hangs open in death.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #309: The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez

Gilbert Hernandez is a cartoonist of extremes. Just looking at his work related to the Palomar/Luba set of stories, he ranges all the way from the joyous porn of Birdland to the (equally joyous, in very different ways) kid-friendly stories from the turn of the century about Venus.

Venus also appeared in stories that aren’t kid-friendly, which could make sharing a book like Luba and Her Family  (which has the bulk of those Venus stories) with an eight-year-old somewhat problematic. But, luckily, there is a just-the-kid-stuff Venus collection: The Adventures of Venus.

As far as I can tell, this small book — it has half-size comics pages, and less than a hundred of them — entirely consists of stories also in Luba and Her Family, so most people will not want to buy both of them. (Some people, naming no names, might have bought both of them thinking they were different things.)

The long, weird story about the “blooter baby” was original to this book, which otherwise collected all-ages material by Hernandez from the late-90s comic Measles. (It was a multi-author anthology, so he had just one Venus story each issue.)

Venus is fun and spunky, but these are mostly the lesser stories about her — concerned with normal kid-activities like soccer and with her social interactions. The other Venus stories, the ones not specifically aimed at kids, give her more depth and make her more interesting, though they probably are unsuitable for this age range — she’s exposed to knowledge of a whole lot of the illicit sexual pairings going on in Hernandez’s work in that era. (Including her own mother.)

So this is a perfectly nice book for a young audience. The only place it leads, though, is somewhere its target audience can’t follow, which could be a problem for a household that combines inquisitive young readers and copies of those other Hernandez books. And anyone older than that should just get Luba and Her Family, which has all of these stories and a lot more.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #295: Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 4 by The Hernandez Brothers

2011’s installment of Love and Rockets was very much the continuation of the year before: Jaime finishes up “The Love Bunglers” here, in four devastating chapters, and Gilbert continues to circle Hollywood with his characters Fritzi and Killer in two stories, one of them “fictional” within the world of Love and Rockets and one of them “real.”

That’s a good question, though: what is real? I still have my questions about the end of “Love Bunglers,” which has an element that I’m afraid is not exactly real.

(From poking through The Love and Rockets Companion, I’m guessing it is real, but I’m still withholding final judgment until I actual read later stories. It is so parallel to the end of L&R Vol. 1 that I don’t trust it. It’s also so much a wish-fulfillment for both characters and audience that it’s deeply out of character for Jaime’s work.)

So this is Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 4 . The stories more or less alternate here, though it starts and ends with Jaime.

I’ve written about “Love Bunglers” twice recently in this series — just last week and when I read the revised version in Angels and Magpies  a few weeks before that. I don’t have much new to say about it this time, though it lays out interestingly in this book: Part Three opens with a one-page vignette about two unnamed long-married characters — I don’t think we’ve ever seen them before, or are meant to recognize them — with the woman’s thought overlaid as captions. And that moment is strongly parallel with the end of the book, a scene with Maggie and Ray. That’s not as obvious when the whole story is collected, and speaks to how Jaime planned the effect of the stories in a particular serial installment of L&R.

On the Gilbert side, “King Vampire” is another movie presented in comics form. Confusingly, it seems to star Killer as the young vampire wanna-be and Fritzi as an older vampire in a parallel plot, but the other Gilbert story in this volume, “And Then Reality Kicks In,” is a discussion between Fritzi and an unnamed guy about “the vampire project,” which won’t happen until she gets out of her current seven-year contract. So “King Vampire” is a movie from the future of Gilbert’s continuity, or something.

“King Vampire” is pulpy, violent, and full of sex, of course — that’s generally the point of Gilbert’s “movie” stories.

“And Then Reality Kicks In” is quieter, showing one long conversation that’s about more than it shows on the surface. If I remembered who that guy was, it would probably be a bit more meaningful to me, but I find the men of this era of Gilbert’s work to be pretty colorless and interchangeable.

Next week I’ll have a full book Love and Rockets stories from 2012 that I’ve never read before: this one was half-new, but from here forward it’s all stuff I haven’t read. It’s weird how you can realize you haven’t read one of your favorite comic series for close to a decade….

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #288: Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 3 by The Hernandez Brothers

Comics are not movies: obviously. The two forms do have some things in common, and can use similar visual language — they’re both storytelling mediums with limited space for dialogue and various ingenious ways to show time passing, among other parallels.

But, even at best, they’re parallel: they can do similar things in different ways. So when a creator continuously evokes cinema in his comics, as matter and style, the reader starts to wonder what is up.

By 2010’s Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 3 , Gilbert Hernandez had been telling movie-inspired stories for about a decade. His major character Fritzi had become a B-movie star, in at least a minor way, and he’d not only told stories about her life and work, but he’d “released” several of her “movies” as separate graphic novels: Chance in Hell (2007), Speak of the Devil (2008), The Troublemakers  (2009). And, in the previous year’s No. 2, he’d launched another young buxom starlet on a Hollywood career, in Dora “Killer” Rivera, daughter of Guadalupe and grand-niece of Fritzi.

Killer is back in Gilbert’s two stories in No.3: “Scarlet in Starlight” is the comics version of what in-continuity is a ten-year-old SF movie that Killer is being considered for a sequel/remake of, and “Killer * Sad Girl * Star” explains that. They’re both intensely late-Gilbert stories, full of people talking about the things that they want to talk about, having endless meta-conversations about the things they’re doing and feeling and saying to each other. I’m finding this is getting more airless and hermetic at this point, as if Gilbert is circling the same material ever closer — the re-run of Fritzi’s movie career in miniature with Killer is another example — and I hope he broke out of that cycle between then and now.

Jaime’s half of No. 3 is the first two pieces of “The Love Bunglers” (set in the modern day) and the flashback “Browntown,” part of the same overall story. I’ve already read the second half — both in the Angels and Magpies  omnibus a few weeks ago and in No. 4 this morning before I got to typing this very post — so I’m mostly going to save my thoughts about that overall story for the conclusion.

But I will repeat what I said before: “Love Bunglers” is Jaime’s masterwork, even more so than the previous high points like “Flies on the Ceiling” and “The Death of Speedy.” And if you think this first half is emotionally strong, you don’t know what you’re in for.

(And I note that I, like nearly everyone else, found “Browntown” the standout when I read No. 3  new in 2010: none of us realized it was part of the same story of “Love Bunglers” and that the latter was not nearly as light as it seemed.)

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.