Jaime Hernandez (who, along with his brother Gilbert, created the most influential alternative comic book of the last 20 years in Love and Rockets) presents the first collection of his current ongoing comic book series, spotlighting the first four issues. A critical and commercial smash-hit in the world of alternative comic books, the stories collected here earned Hernandez the coveted Best Artist Harvey Award in 1998. Although Penny Century refers to one of Hernandez's most popular characters - a voluptuous platinum-blonde heiress whose wealth affords her the luxury of indulging her fantasy life as a costumed superheroine-cum-bon vivant - the title Penny Century functions more as a catch-phrase for the optimistic mood of the series, in which anything can and does happen, where seemingly unrelated stories, when read together, give texture to a larger canvas.
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Brothers Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez's Love & Rockets (1981-96) comics were some of the most innovative and best known in the new generation of comics targeting a mainly adult audience through complex characters and sometimes sexual themes. Here they return with separate books largely building on those works with varying success. Jaime's volume collects the first four issues of Penny Century, his most recent comic, while featuring familiar Love & Rockets characters. Locas in Love consists of mature sight gags and parallel storylines focusing on possibly the brothers' most famous creations, Maggie & Hopey and Penny Century, a wealthy woman who indulges in her fantasies, often at the emotional expense of her willing victims. Also included in this book is the Eisner Award-winning story "Home School." Jaime is an accomplished storyteller, and although the storylines concern themselves with the characters' ongoing search for love sometimes portrayed graphically the stories are driven by character development. Gilbert's book collects a series of short stories, some focusing on familiar Love & Rockets characters, such as Roy, and some featuring new characters. In this disjointed collection, the stories are too short to develop fully, and this reader found the instances of nudity gratuitous. Love & Rockets is an essential piece of recent comic book history, but libraries should consider adding earlier books such as The Death of Speedy or Poison River before purchasing these collections. Libraries that already have close to a full run should consider adding Locas in Love but can safely pass on Fear of Comics. Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., MA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Jaime's new stories focus on the characters he has chronicled in Love and Rockets : charmingly insecure Maggie, her abrasive sometimes-girlfriend Hopey, blonde knockout Penny Century, and quietly crazy Izzy. The most poignant stories here--indeed, some of the most affecting of Jaime's career--are, however, about a hitherto minor figure, Ray Dominguez, former boyfriend of both Maggie and Penny. They pick up self-pitying yet self-aware Ray as he embarks on a lonely new life in L.A and reminiscences about missed opportunities. Jaime's characters are so convincing and his stories so compelling that it is easy to overlook his greatest strength--the most economically handsome drawing style in comics. Gordon Flagg
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