Friday, September 12, 2008

Love and Look-In

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death. This time, reviews, of sorts, of Amor y Cohetes (Fantagraphics, 2008) and The Best of Look-In: The Seventies (Prion, 2007).

Having assembled all of the Hernandez Brothers' Palomar and Locas stories from the first fifty issues of Love & Rockets across six unmissable volumes, Fantagraphics has most recently compiled all (or at least most) of the remaining odds and ends from that comic into a big anthology volume called Amor y Cohetes.

I think it would be simple and repetitive to cough up a list of what all's in this book because content rundowns are available just about everywhere you look. In fact, you can follow the Amazon link in the image for two, and there you'll find an comparison I certainly enjoy. It's like a B-sides and rarities collection, the Hernandez version of Dead Letter Office. Some of these comics are amazingly self-indulgent and showy, some are very clever, and at least one - Mario's "Somewhere in the Tropics" - is completely stunning.

There's also this demented, stream-of-consciousness installment called "Hernandez Satyricon," in which Gilbert uses Jaime's "Locas" characters in a rambling, nutball, nightmarish sci-fi tale. At one point, all of the characters swap genders, allowing Gilbert to ever-so-briefly give us Hopey & Maggie yaoi. Well now. Recommended for mature readers.

I first learned of this collection shortly after I posted my Reprint This! feature on Sapphire & Steel. Look-In was a long-running magazine for teens and preteens in Britain, one that mixed comic strip action with features on the week's TV offerings and the current flash-in-the pan pop fad. I have a few issues, and so I certainly enjoyed Lew Stringer's recent look back at the title.

The thing about the seventies is that you still aren't sure elements of them ever really happened. This compilation book finds room for an article about a new series of interview LPs, with the host of some yoof-teevee program interviewing the likes of Gary Glitter and the Sweet for a monthly record release. And then there's Flintlock. The only reason anybody ever heard of Flintlock, a boy band which followed the Bay City Rollers' playbook and troubled the top 30 exactly once, is that their drummer was one of The Tomorrow People. And yet they're all over this book, with concert reports and a comic adventure. Somehow the editors also found room for a two-page feature on Our Kid, who don't even have the Tomorrow People connection. Roxy Music only gets a half-page.

Anyway, the comics of course reprint a Tomorrow People story, along with multi-part adventures of Black Beauty, The Bionic Woman and Sapphire & Steel. Artists on these stories are John Burns, Mike Noble, John Bolton and Arthur Ranson. There are other comics as well, including generally unfunny humor strips based on Man About the House and Benny Hill and a lightweight ABBA biography which reads as even more woeful in the wake of the Gilbert Hernandez bio of Frida Kahlo in Amor y Cohetes.

And it's full of old ads, for Doctor Who Weetabix (some sort of British breakfast cereal, I think) and Six Million Dollar Man dolls. I think this book is incredibly fun and proved to be a very silly read, particularly when some award ceremony from 1977 gives The Tomorrow People a "best drama" nod, and The New Avengers "best family programme." (Shurely shome mishtake!) That said, I kind of think you need to have been born prior to 1980 to find much charm in this.

And we're still waiting for proper compilations of all the comics, without interruptions by articles on the thrilling new hobby of badge collecting. Make it so, Prion!

(Originally posted September 12, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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