Being the age I am, I more or less missed the boat on Love and Rockets. Just starting to catch up on it’s greatness now, the stories from Los Bros Hernandez are a clinic on the power of comics, the power of the line on a page, and just a perfect slice of life. While the stories The Death of Speedy, may just be the greatest comic story of all time (not hyperbole, just thinking about it gives me chills and fills me with inspiration), the strongest point of Love and Rockets to me is Jaime Hernandez’s pencils. And one of the best examples of this is the unparalleled and legendary cover to Love and Rockets 24.
Where to begin with this cover. There’s so much happening; this is a full story in itself. Firstly, in examining the crowd, you’re seeing reality. These are everyday people, and the exact crowd you would expect at this punk show. There’s this sense of a James Dean with tattoos and more attitude radiating from this crowd, and you can imagine the music is everything for them. In terms of the main focus of the cover, Hopey in the background on bass and Terry on guitar, I cannot think of a better, true embodiment of 1980’s American punk. You get the impression that these badass women are playing what they want, screw everyone else. Additionally, this appears to be just another show for them, another dive bar or dingy basement bar; so nothing special coming from them. In a still image, it’s hard to encapsulate music, but this image radiates the attitude and beat of punk music.
Love and Rockets, at it’s best, is emphasizing the human element, even in a crazy and sometimes unrealistic world. Los Bros Hernandez don’t shy away from sometimes touchy subjects like sex, drugs, alcohol abuse, and gang life; but you connect to almost every character as if you grew up with them. This cover is just another part of these characters lives. Our point of view of this image is right offstage of Hopey and Terry, as if we are a part of the band, or just in their group, setting up the story inside the issue perfectly.
Also, this issue comes right off the heels of the previously stated Death of Speedy story, which can only be described as continuously being punched in the stomach in that you spend the entire story on edge, and seemingly out of breath. With issue 24, we move on the road with Hopey, Terry, and company as they perform, break up, and live a hard life. I can’t say how it was coming out in real time, but reading it now, this is the perfect response to that roller coaster of a story, and after catching your breath, this cover draws you right back in.
When talking about the greatest comic covers, this has to be, and in many cases is, mentioned. The red and black scream for your attention. Jaime Hernandez’s cartooning is top knotch, and it gives inspiration to anyone who sees it. If I could, I would have this huge on my wall; this is comic book art at it’s finest.