Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Locas II

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Locas II (Fantagraphics, 2009)

This was a Christmas present from my wife, a book that I had no intention of buying myself. Well, no immediate intention. You never know. That's because I'd already bought almost all of the contents of Jaime Hernandez's Locas II twice already, when the 418 pages within its covers were originally printed in Love & Rockets and then when the artist carved them out and expanded them into the larger Fantagraphics books Locas in Love, Dicks and Deedees, Ghost of Hoppers, The Education of Hopey Glass and another one that I don't remember the name of. These are wonderful stories, where the aging regulars from the original Locas tales pay lip service to the idea of settling down in the suburban southern California heat. Maggie's past is more painful than her present, Ray and Doyle refuse to grow up, and Hopey... well, I've never really got a handle on Hopey, or what makes her tick.

Frankly, all these different assemblages of the same material is really getting confusing. Maybe it doesn't help that I'm petulantly pouting that I didn't enjoy Hernandez's "Ti-Girls" adventure that appeared in the 2008 and 2009 Love & Rockets "New Stories" books and wish he'd just tell us more about what happens to Maggie and Hopey next, and so since I'm being a dissatisfied Monday morning quarterback, it's coloring how I view the pages in front of me. A week ago, I picked up Penny Century, the newest collection - I think book eight - in that OTHER format, the one that I really like, of about 300 pages in a shorter, squatter book, and it looked a whole lot like a whole bunch of these pages were being reprinted for their FOURTH time there. So I put it back on the rack and didn't buy it.

Honestly, nobody needs to buy these things four times, but I think that Fantagraphics could do a far better job simplifying things to keep things in order. I think the big coffee table books like this one aren't intended for the collectors, and should be perceived as just a one-shot art book. That's part of why I didn't buy Gilbert's The High Soft Lisp (a 120-page tall collection) last week, either. Cash is a little tight around these parts, and I figure all those pages will get into a 300-page short book pretty soon too, right? Is there some comprehensive website somewhere that tells us exactly what stories are in which book, so I can sell some of this stuff? Do I still need Ghost of Hoppers; are all its pages reprinted in Locas II?

As for this book, yes, it's completely lovely, gorgeously designed by Jacob Covey. Its contents are so damn delightful that within one week of finishing reading the book, I was actively entertaining buying what seemed to be all of it again in another format. It's an absolute treasure, a work of art I'm glad to own. I just wish I hadn't spent what looks to be close to a couple hundred bucks chasing assorted L&R comics and books around the last several years getting all this stuff, when I could have just waited and got this for forty, or the Penny Century book for eighteen. Locas II is recommended, strongly, if you haven't read the material, but do some research and make sure you're not duplicating yourself too much if you have.

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