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Coming Up: ‘Love and Rockets: The Sketchbooks’

    Both Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez developed their skills as artists in public, in the pages of Love and Rockets, and as quickly as any artists ever have. The first issue showed two promising young tyros; by the fourth, both brothers were clearly among the foremost cartoonists of their generation. But not all of that development took place on the main stage of their shared magazine. They built up to their 1981 self-published debut with years of experiments, fan art, zine illustrations, early short comics, and gig posters. They continued to work out in personal sketchbooks after establishing themselves as the preeminent cartoonists they became.

    Behind the scenes of The Brothers Hernandez: 400 pages of sketches, inked drawings, early comics, and uninhibited graphic ephemera that never made it into the pages of Love and Rockets.

    Fantagraphics published two volumes of this nascent or private drawing in 1989 and 1992. Now, this deluxe hardcover collects the work from these two volumes with other rarely-seen artwork for a new generation of admirers. It’s presented as a dual-sided flip book with one cover, and one-half of the book, featuring Jaime’s work and a second cover, and the other half of the book, highlighting Gilbert’s work. The Hernandez Brothers’ mastery of comics is seen on every page of the thousands of Love and Rockets they’ve drawn over the last 40 years. Here, for the first time in three decades, we see the work they put into becoming those artists.

    Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez’s mastery of comics is seen on every page of the thousands of Love and Rockets they’ve drawn over the last 40 years. Here, for the first time in three decades, we see the work they put into becoming those artists.

    In 1982, Fantagraphics Books published the first issue of Love and Rockets by the Hernandez brothers (Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario), and the series has since gone on to become the publisher’s flagship title, a monumental work of graphic fiction. Collected under the umbrella of L&R, the series is comprised of two separate ongoing stories: Gilbert chronicles the colorful inhabitants of the fictional Latin American town of Palomar, while Jaime follows Latinx friends and sometime lovers Maggie and Hopey and their circle of friends in the punk scene of the fictional Californian town Hoppers. Throughout L&R’s multi-decade run, its characters have aged in real time, lending these stories a depth and weight that few literary works achieve. The Hernandez brothers continue to release new issues of Love and Rockets.

    Fantagraphics marks the 40th anniversary of this landmark comic book series in 2022 — The Complete Love and Rockets Library collects L&R in affordable paperback editions. Love and Rockets: The First Fifty is an 8-volume box set presenting bound facsimiles of the original fifty issues of the Love and Rockets comics magazines including every cover, comics page, and letter column (even advertising!) with selected essays, reviews, and profiles that appeared in the popular (and unpopular) press between 1982 and 1996, along with over 100 pages of additional, rarely-seen comics from the period by all three Brothers, plus dozens of book and magazine covers — a virtual history of the growth of Love and Rockets and the simultaneous rise of the literary comics movement of which they were exemplars and trailblazers. This is essential reading for all alternative comics fans.

    Love and Rockets: The Sketchbooks is part of the Love and Rockets series.

    Tony M.