At this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego, Los Bros Hernandez were muy popular. Indie comics pioneers Gilbert and Jaime - and their older brother Mario, unveiling some of his first comics work in years - were all on hand to debut an all-new, all-different issue of their long running, highly acclaimed anthology series "Love & Rockets," offered for the first time in a squarebound, book-length format. Comics must be hardwired into the Hernandez Family's DNA, because even Gilbert's eight-year-old daughter Natalia got in on the act, selling her own minicomic right alongside her famous elders.
Just minutes before publisher Fantagraphics Books sold the last of the 144 copies of "Love & Rockets: New Stories" #1 it brought to the Con, CBR gathered Los Bros together for a chat about their comic book collaboration, their buzzworthy book's new format, the sights and sounds of San Diego, and how Joss Whedon nearly derailed their Comic-Con reunion.
CBR: You've turned Comic-Con into a family reunion of sorts--there's the three of you, plus Gilbert's daughter Natalia, all at one signing.
Mario Hernandez: And I have a 12-year-old now who's way into manga and stuff, so coming to the shows and seeing things through her eyes is really cool.
Jaime Hernandez: Yeah. It's not like the old days - we used to live in the same city, so we used to be able to see each other working on our stuff. Now it's kind of through the mail or through the phone, you know? [Laughs]
Gilbert Hernandez: Yeah, this is good, this is new. We asked Natalia if she wanted to do this, she went for it, but I can tell it's a little overwhelming for her. Just go over by the Star Wars booth and you'll definitely be overwhelmed.
Are you excited about the new format of "Love & Rockets"?
GH: Yeah. Our comic book was always put into collections in reprint form for the bookstores, so they were never getting our new work. So it was suggested that we just go straight to the bookstores with new material. The bookstores are happy and we're happy. So far, so good. We'll see how it works out, but I think that's the way to go.
JH: To tell you the truth, a lot of it had to do with the way the market was going. I'm not going argue with the market. I'm not going to say, "Well, we're gonna do it the old way!" and not sell any comics. This way just seemed a really good way to go and also challenged me to a new way of doing my comics, since I had more room now. And this is the first time I've seen the book, so it's exciting.
Mario rejoined the series in this issue, writing a story that Gilbert drew. Were you excited that all three of you had work in the book?
JH: Yeah, it's fun. It's a lot of fun, actually.
MH: Yes, oh yes. I took a hiatus for a while. I had to take some nights off! I'd been doing [comics] for many years at night - work a day job, working at night - and I just felt, "I want to enjoy my evenings for a while." Now that I'm doing more work, I think I missed it.
GH: And I don't have to write it, so I can make a lot of money drawing really fast. [Laughs] It's a way to get away from my own bubble of how I work and do what I do. It's nice to flex some different muscles. When I'm drawing something that's written by somebody else, I go to work in a different way than I do when I'm by myself.
MH: I enjoy writing stories for Gilbert, and now I will be doing some stuff on my own with my art. I'm always promising that, but the years are kind of fading and going by really fast, so I've got to get on it again! [Laughs] I'm working on a graphic novel on my own, yes. I don't know who's going [publish] it, but it will see the light of day.
Do you ever have brotherly fights, like the Kinks or Oasis?
JH: No. I think we got over that when we were kids, you know? We did a lot of that then! But no, part of it is that I really respect Gilbert as an artist and I would never step on his toes. I just trust that he'll do his best work. How can you fight with that? [Laughs]
Do you come to San Diego a lot?
JH: Oh yeah, every year. I've been coming since '82.
MH: I try to come every couple years at least, if I can.
JH: It's one of those things where it drives other people crazy. I mean, I like doing signings and meeting the fans, but I also like watching Klingons walk by. It's fun, it's eye candy.
MH: It's a great con. Everybody complains how huge it is and everything, but I enjoy it because I meet so many nice people. It's nice to see fans - some people know my obscure stuff, so it's really cool.
GH: Don't forget the money! The money, and then the money, and then more money. [Laughs] No, I like going to the Star Wars booth and being crushed to death, and I like the B.O. and the fat guys in tight costumes. I like getting depressed at how many people are buying terrible dragon paintings and not buying more of my artwork. [Laughs] No, I have a good time. I like comics, and it's such a festive bizarro world of pretty much passive people, for the most part. It's the most passive group you'll find in the U.S. I like that about comics: It's a madhouse, yet everyone's happy.
MH: I was even late to our signing because I was getting Joss Whedon's autograph. And I had Nathan Fillion sign my chest! [Laughs]
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