Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Those Wild and Mixed Up Locas"

I may land a job tomorrow, so cross your fingers. I'll spend the rest of my broke-ass, carefree, parentally-subsidized free time by indulging in a little comic book geekiness.

Meet my latest obsession, Hopey and Maggie, the locas in the Love and Rockets comics.

Matilda: What is it about you that Maya finds so special anyway?
Hopey: A tongue faster than Mohammed Ali and sweeter than Dolly their twenties! ("Wig Wam Bam Part 2")

Maggie and Hopey are two Latinas at the heart of the Dickensian series written by Jaime and Gilbert Hernadez. I think I was born too late; I was born the same year that Love and Rockets started, and so I totally missed out on the punk world that they depicted. I think I would have been a good punk; I wish I could get my hair to look like Hopey's circa 1984.
I heard about this series from word-of-mouth and knew almost nothing about it when I picked up Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories from the library. I was totally blown away by the scope of the plot and the depth of characterization. It's fantastic combination of magical realism and gritty drama, not to mention snarky humor too. There are rockets and dinosaurs, female wrestlers, punk bands, the barrios of Los Angeles, dillettante billionaires, superheroes, family barbeques, strippers, political revolutions, and lots of sex. But like any good piece of literature, it's the characters that matter, and the Hernandez brothers capture one of the most moving and realistic portrayals of female relationships I've ever found. Hopey is a half-Colombian punk rocker, Maggie is a Chicana mechanic, and their relationship is somewhere between sisterhood, romantic friendship, and lesbian lovers. It's the emotional center of the strip; it holds the whole sprawling, crazy thing together. The amazing thing about Hopey and Maggie's relationship is that it just is. Hopey loves Maggie, Maggie loves Hopey. And Rand Race. And Speedy Ortiz. And Ray. Hopey fucks Terry, and Maya, and Tex. Gina loves Maggie--but Maggie loves Hopey. Their relationship shifts from friendship to sexual partners and back, just as a matter of course, with breakups and fights, with lovers and serious relationships on the side, but it always circles back to their partnership. And the word "lesbian" and "dyke" rarely comes up. Labels aren't the point, for them. I'm just in awe at how two straight guys can be so upfront and honest about the complexities of queer women's relationship. And examine the intricacies of race and class without coming off as didactic. I'm interested by the dynamic of writers who write from personal perspectives different from their own, and I guess what Love and Rockets shows is all you really have to do is treat them like human beings instead of categories--Hispanic, Queer, Woman--and see where they go from there.
I wish comic books were more readily available. I can't afford to buy them, that's for damn sure. It's hard to find decent selections in mainstream bookstores, and the few comic stores I know of aren't much better. Plus any time I walk in one everyone stares at me with a "IT HAS BOOBS!!" expression on their face, because Girls Don't Read Comics. I wish I could have the satisfaction of knowing what I'm talking about with those guys, but I don't, because I'm limited to the selection at the library, which is hit-or-miss. But the underground nature of comics like Love and Rockets is part of their greatness, I guess, because they're free of market forces and commercial pressures and can write about Chicana mechanics and dyke wrestlers, when nobody else can afford to.


At 10:43 AM, Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

Move. To. A. Big. City. Or at least a medium sized town in a different part of the country. Portland, for instance, has lots of comic books and girls who read them. Just think about it.

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

If by "think" you mean "dream" and "fantasize", I'm already way ahead of you.
You know what, if I had $500, I would *drive* to fucking Portland and just figure it out. Maybe I can finagle it out of my parents or something...


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