Jaime Hernandez, the cartoonist who, with brother Gilbert, has published intricate interweaving epics starring Latina women in “Love and Rockets” for nearly thirty years, fires off a short super-heroic adventure in April’s “MySpace Dark Horse Presents,” the monthly online anthology of original comics from Dark Horse. The strip, titled “Las Primas Controla!” finds a young woman trying to cope with a giant shape-shifter while trying desperately to remember her magic word. We caught up with Hernandez for a quick chat about the strip and what’s coming up in “Love and Rockets: New Stories” #3.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, female characters take center stage in Hernandez’s “MDHP” strip, as they do throughout “Love and Rockets,” a tendency the artist said is “partly because the medium is dominated by male characters and readers, but mainly because I simply like doing women characters.” “They’re fun to write and draw. As it is probably natural for most cartoonists to want to do male characters, it’s the opposite for me. I prefer to see how a female character will handle a situation more than a male will,” he said.
With Hernandez regularly blending fantasy elements with realistic characters, part of the fun of his comics is that the reader is never quite sure what kind of world the characters inhabit until well into the strip. Undermining reader expectations in this way creates a certain type of humor, but also lends a strong element of surprise to the stories. “I enjoy playing with the reader without trying to talk down to them or, on the other hand, trying to talk up to them. I guess I’m just hoping the reader will want to be part of the journey as I like to involve the reader as much as I can,” Hernandez said. “I’ll give them a dose of familiar and a dose of unfamiliar and hopefully we’ll meet somewhere in between.”
Since the relaunch of “Love and Rockets” as an annual anthology, Hernandez has been telling his own brand of superhero adventures starring the Ti-Girls, a four-part story with the first half published in “Love and Rockets: New Stories” #1 and the concluding two chapters in #2. The adventure involves rival teams of super heroines, an evil doppelganger, and the mischievous Penny Century undergoing multiple but interconnected adventures. As to whether Las Primas, the super women of his “MDHP” strip, inhabit the same fictional universe, Hernandez said, “They’re all part of the same universe but I’m guessing Las Primas are more small town than the other more established super folk.”
Hernandez said he has no plans at present to return to Las Primas, but “I do like the characters and I think they have a lot more to say so we’ll see.”
As to what readers can expect from Jaime for this year’s “Love and Rockets,” the artist said that the super-powered characters of the previous two years would not be returning for #3. “The super heroes are over so I’m back to concentrating on the real life stuff. There are some characters who will be making life-turning decisions as they now dwell in their 40s,” Hernandez said.
“I don’t usually like to give away too much but I can tell you that a lot of the old characters are in their 40s now and some of them want to settle down like normal people and others want to break free and act like children again (as if they ever stopped in the first place),” Hernandez added. “You’ll see Maggie, Ray, Angel and a few others thrown in for fun and even a couple of new characters.”