Tag Archives: Jaime Hernandez

Featured Books Reviews Razorcake 110–Black Card, Nothing Nice to Say: Complete Discography, Egg Cream

Illustration by Danny Rust

Black Card
By Chris Terry, 272 pgs.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting another title from Chris Terry since I first read his debut novel Zero Fade a while back and Black Card has not disappointed. I found myself laughing out loud more than once, and the way the chapters were structured really kept me engaged. It almost felt mysterious, like our own pasts can seem when we try to figure out what role we played in our history. While not a children’s book by any stretch, it does feel like its own coming of age story. Humans tend to bloom on their own timeline, especially those who carry imaginary friends into their twenties and belong to a subculture that celebrates never growing up.

That’s right, the main character is punk, so if you’re reading this, odds are you’ll relate to the narrator. At its core, Black Card is about race in this country and its unwritten rulebook we are all pressured to conform to. This is the story of one punk’s struggle to create himself in a world that seems hell-bent on drawing its own conclusions.

black_card_q_1
What gives Terry a vantage point of interest is his ability to see an object from different sides of America’s ever-present invisible wall and use this perspective to show us just how fragile the concept of identity is while reminding us how very real its effects can be for our physical health, our mental health, and our very freedom. From getting too drunk before you play, to dealing with people’s preconceptions, the backdrops he creates feel familiar without being cliché, making for a novel based in the punk rock stratosphere without any cringe-worthy moments. I’m already excited to see what’s next. Definitely recommended. –Rene Navarro (Catapult, catapult.co)

 

Dog Between Us, A
By Duncan B. Barlow, 244 pgs.

I knew of Duncan B. Barlow for years before any of his work came into my purview: dude has a resume. He was a member of a bunch of influential Louisville bands, like Endpoint and By The Grace of God. I remember reading his punk rock exit interview in Punk Planet after he was sucker punched at a show by the singer of a hardcore band (look this up if you don’t know it already—shit is nuts). Barlow is also a writer. A few years back I got my hands on his novel The City, Awake and was impressed by the way he crafted bizarro time-looping noir pulp with a straightforward delivery.

A Dog Between Us is much more straightforward, but no less impactful. Throughout, the narrator is haunted by the demise and death of his father. Barlow is deft at depicting the way time slows in the brink of a loved one’s passing; the haze through which one walks daily to complete even the most mundane tasks.

This haze extends over his relationship. While A Dog Between Us isn’t as gleefully convention-bending as The City, Awake, it does share some tricks, including a broken chronology. As Barlow’s narrator Crag goes off into reverie, we’re brought along to the past, to the way that the slightest detail can springboard back someone who’s suffered a recent loss: to a week ago at the hospital, months ago, years. It’s tough to be aware of these shifts away from the present through the fog of grief, something that Barlow expertly depicts. As the story unfolds, we begin to learn that these depictions serve a narrative purpose greater than simply portraying what grieving is. Crag misses signs that are literally taped up for him to see, and must deal with the consequences of stacking losses.

A Dog Between Us wrenches beauty from tragedy. Add another one to Duncan B. Barlow’s resume. –Michael T. Fournier (Stalking Horse Press, stalkinghorsepress.com)

 

Egg Cream #1
By Liz Suburbia

If you haven’t read Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia, you may want to stop reading this review right now and go pick it up. For those who have read it, or are just curious, read on.

Egg Cream’s main story takes place ten years after Sacred Heart ends. It’s told from the perspective of a TV special documenting the events that took place in the commune of Sacred Heart, where a bunch of kids were left parentless to run wild in a lawless town. Through interviews and archival footage, we find out what happened to some of the kids after the flood.

If Liz Suburbia continues to tell these kids tales, that would be great. But if they don’t, this follow up is a satisfying ending to Sacred Heart. It explains how the kids got there and how they were able to stay alive (most of them anyway). The narrative flows well and Suburbia’s ability to make your jaw drop with one panel is, well, jaw-dropping. Their signature black and white artwork is fantastic, and the “commercials” thrown in are entertaining. The second half of Egg Cream is titled “What a Dog Dreams,” which is a collection of illustrations and comics about Suburbia’s dreams. Some are tragic while others are superbly weird and funny.

And if I didn’t sell it enough, the paper used is like paper in a coloring book. You can color this comic if you are some sort of insane person. –Rick V. (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.com)

 

Is This How You See Me?
By Jaime Hernandez, 90 pgs.

Jaime Hernandez and his brothers have been releasing the comic Love and Rockets since the early ’80s. Jaime’s Locas stories focus on the punks and alts living in Hoppers, a fictional town south of Los Angeles. His main protagonists are Maggie and Hopey, two Chicana women who age along with the author. They started off as teenagers and now they are in their late forties. Their friendship gets rocky throughout the series and it continues in this story.

Is This How You See Me? finds Maggie and Hopey going back to Hoppers for a punk reunion show. While there, we see how a lot of characters and the town have aged. Throughout the book, we get flashbacks to the beginning of their friendship back in the early ’80s. The duo still finds themselves wandering the streets of Hoppers at 3AM, running into trouble just as they did thirty years before.

This book flows better than Hernandez’s earlier Locas stories. And, of course, the artwork is solid. The panels pop with his signature pulp style mixed with the occasional very cartoonish facial expressions. This book proves that you’re really never too old to jump in the pit. But also, what are you proving by doing so? –Rick V. (Fantagraphics Books, fantagraphics.com)

 

No Apocalypse
By Al Burian, 192 pgs.

I love Al Burian. He is hands-down my favorite living author today, and certainly one of my favorite authors of all time. His take on punk culture is laced with existential despair and matter-of-fact commentary. This is all done in a dry manner, but which often comes across as hilarious.

Thus it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I loved No Apocalypse. The book is comprised of his columns from Punk Planet, HeartattaCk, and the Skeleton. I read some of these writings in Punk Planet, but it’s been a long time since then, and it was refreshing to come across them again. The Punk Planet columns take up the predominant amount of space in the book.

Burian’s writing is, for the most part, consistent in its take on what it’s like to be a slacker in the late ’90s and early ’00s. There are a lot words spent not just on music and Burian’s adventures, but also on President George W. Bush, who was in office during the time when many of these pieces were written. In hindsight, it’s almost comical how we thought Bush was the worst President ever, although all things considered, at least Donald Trump hasn’t sent thousands of soldiers overseas to kill thousands of people unconnected to terrorism, all based on a lie. Still, the similarities of how bad politics can get is appropriate for our current state of affairs.

What gets me most about No Apocalypse is how insightful it is. His comments on how it can feel strangely freeing when one loses their parents are something about which I hadn’t given any thought yet makes sense. He also has his tales of riding the Greyhound, a line of his writing of which I never tire. His looks at this particular slice of Americana who ride the ’hound makes me smile and laugh. Burian’s literary flair comes out most striking in these situations. He keeps the reader on edge wondering if an oddly paired couple will make it back to the bus in time from their rest stop. It seems strange, but I was fully engaged.

Al Burian is a slacker, a very unsympathetic antihero, and in some ways, a loser. He can’t seem to get beyond being his own worst enemy at times (as shown with his experience putting his foot in his mouth in court). Yet he somehow writes in such a way as to counter those detrimental qualities to make himself easily relatable and one of punk’s most talented literary figures of the past few decades. –Kurt Morris (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)

 

Nothing Nice to Say: Complete Discography
By Mitch Clem, 240 pgs.

Razorcake readers may know Mitch Clem as an illustrator and former comic contributor to the magazine. Back in 2002, he doodled up a webcomic focusing on jokes in the realm of punk called Nothing Nice to Say. It mostly revolved around the main characters Blake and Fletcher poking fun at the music and culture they surrounded themselves with. The comic went off and on for ten plus years and now every single comic is in one big fat collection.

A good chunk of the comics are three-panel gag strips but Clem later moved onto full-page strips with some continuity and connecting storylines. Throughout the years he would introduce new characters such as an emo kid named Phillip, goth duo Alice and Karen, and a bear named Cecil. All the comics still make jokes about bands and punk-related things. He would occasionally throw in a reference to mainstream comics that some hardcore nerds will appreciate.

Mitch’s style may remind people of Archie Comics, except more animated. As you would expect, you see the drawing get better through the years. Mitch takes the time to draw impressively detailed backgrounds where it may not be necessary, but it really shows off his skill as an artist and not just a funny-man cartoonist. And these are laugh-out-loud funny. Maybe avoid reading it in the library or a public bathroom. As mentioned before, you are reading this in Razorcake, so you will most likely get the humor in this collection. You are the target audience.

At page 197 the collection switches gears and becomes the complete Coffee Achievers collection. It’s a story about coffee shops, gargoyles, magic, and mix tapes drawn by Joe Dunn and written by Mitch Clem. Most of the main cast of Nothing Nice to Say appear in this story and you might be thrown back by the way Dunn draws them. But overall, the story is good and you will wish there was more of the Coffee Achievers.

At twenty-five dollars, some folks maybe are hesitant to buy this collection. But it’s beautifully bound, sturdy, and can hold up on the coffee table or toilet tank in any old fifteen-roommate household. –Rick V. (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.com)

 

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good
By adrienne maree brown, 464 pgs.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

radical (adj.)

… from Late Latin radicalis “of or having roots”… Meaning “going to the origin, essential.”

Different roots serve as political starting points for entering The Struggle. For some, the starting point is education. For some, it’s ensuring that the poor have access to credit. For adrienne maree brown, it’s pleasure. Second-wave feminists said, “The personal is political”; however one interprets that (and there’s no consensus on how to interpret it), Pleasure Activism furthers the conversation.

The book is “written and gathered” by brown. In addition to essays by brown, it also features interviews by and conversations with brown, as well as essays by other people, mostly women of color, mostly sexually marginalized. The book’s theme (roughly) is finding pleasure despite trauma. You can’t be whole without pleasure and you can’t go out and truly rip it up unless you’re whole (insofar as anyone is).

Not every chapter is for everyone—I should have listened to Beyoncé’s Lemonade by now, but haven’t, and so skimmed the chapters about it—but the book is so varied that if you keep it around after reading the chapters that currently interest you, other chapters will likely interest you in a year or two (sort of like a music guide—The Wire Primers leaps to mind).

Pleasure Activism, I have to say, is dotted throughout with Oh, Christseriously? moments. One of the book’s blurbs is from an “anti-oppression consultant”—which I suppose isn’t necessarily a hustle. brown claims to have been bitten by a vampire (leaving unaddressed whether she’s a vampire currently). One of her interview subjects talks about the pleasure she gets from her “anti-Zionist home bubbly water machine,” whatever in the earthly motherfuck that is.

I requested the reviewer’s copy after reading online somewhere this line from the back cover summary: “How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience?” I thought the book was about how to attract people to activism—mainly it’s not, though brown does discuss this in her conversation with Dallas Goldtooth, a Standing Rock activist. The conversation concerns how to bring a certain amount of spirit-supporting fun to activism while still comporting yourself in such a way that people in power, and people who don’t know what to think about your movement, still take you seriously. If you’ve wrestled with that, he has thoughts for you. –Jim Woster (AK Press, akpress.org)


Revolutionary Threads: Rastafari, Social Justice, and Cooperative Economics

By Bobby Sullivan, 224 pgs.

Bobby Sullivan is likely known to Razorcake readers—he’s the singer of DC’s Soul Side. Beyond this, he’s a practicing Rastafarian and social activist. It’s fascinating to see how he weaves the threads of his life together in Revolutionary Threads.

Sullivan uses his lyrics as chapter headings throughout. The first section provides a quick discussion of the origin of Rastafari. From there, Sullivan provides historical incidents which spin off of alternate takes on contemporary history. He meticulously sources his work throughout, whether providing a Howard Zinn-like take on the settlement of America by Africans predating Columbus, or in discussing political prisoners like Marilyn Buck.

It’s fascinating to read how Sullivan practices his faith: in addition to writing this book, he does work with prisoners with cooperative grocer groups. Since Rasta is deeply anti-colonialism, Sullivan’s immersion in the punk activism of Washington DC informs his faith, and vice-versa. By all metrics, the work Sullivan does is punk—and it serves his own spiritual needs as well as the community. I had never made this connection with Rastafarianism prior to reading.

Each chapter herein works as a standalone, but comes together to form a greater whole which serves to illuminate Sullivan’s faith and the very understandable ways that his work does good and challenges outdated colonialist conventions. Revolutionary Threads is an engaging, lively, well-thought book which provides a picture of Rastafarianism in action, for punks and beyond. –Michael T. Fournier (Akashic, akashicbooks.com)

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Interview Podcast with Jaime Hernandez, by Ever Velasquez, Becky Rodriguez, and Todd Taylor

Razorcake interview Jaime Hernandez

Jaime Hernandez is more than a mere comic book writer or illustrator. He is part of La Familia Hernandez—Jaime (Xaime), Mario, and Gilbert (Beto)—a group of brothers who created the expansive world of Love and Rockets in 1981. It intertwines three separate narratives, one from each brother, across multiple locations within a creative universe still active today.

I was about fifteen when I picked up my first collection of Love and Rockets while working at a comic book store. A dumb, old customer dude gave me a copy and said, “You need this.” I was surprised. He wasn’t just being a creepy dude trying to hit on me. The book was instantly relatable.

Razorcake interview Jaime Hernandez
It was the first comic book I’d read to address women being queer and gender fluidity. It was full of people of color. It was populated with women being smart about their sexuality, of women often using their sexuality to get what they want. Women in other comics were most often one-dimensional objects of desire, but Jaime treated women… as women. Who they are as individuals matters. They’re as diverse as school teachers, strippers, punk musicians, and luchadoras. And he depicts without judgment.

Although each one of the brother’s individual works brings something uniquely different to the table of Love and Rockets, it’s how Jaime captures the soul and spirit of each one of his characters—while showing the beauty of each—that never stops amazing me, often leaving me dead in my tracks.

In the following interview, we only focused on a few of Jaime’s Love and Rockets cast of characters. Maggie does it all. She starts as a mechanic and shows us everything she’s made of with every issue. Hopey is Maggie’s best friend and is the more in your-face-character of the duo. They go on endless adventures. (I see myself as a mix between Maggie and Hopey.) Ray is the quiet male equal to Maggie. He’s attractive and set in his own way. Nothing ever gets to him. Speedy—my self-proclaimed man in the series— makes his appearance as the best-looking cholo in Barrio Hoppers. Frogmouth is everything wrong in a person packed in a beautiful female form, which allows her to do as she pleases.

We laughed throughout this interview as Jaime, who was open and warm, talked about how he got into comics; creating his characters; and how dinosaurs, cholos, and punks can be worked into a single storyline.

Interview by Ever Velasquez, Becky Rodriguez, and Todd Taylor
Introduction by Ever Velasquez
Photos by Amina Cruz
Sound mixing and mastering by Seth Swaaley

Razorcake interview Jaime Hernandez

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Razorcake #99

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Cover photo by Canderson
Cover layout by Daryl


Bad Sports:
Interview by Daryl Gussin and Todd Taylor

“Bad Sports, originally from Denton, Texas, has been around for over a decade. They’re a fantastic band, worthy of deep and repeated listens. Their latest, Living with Secrets, is one of the best punk records released in the past twelve months. While it’s true members of Bad Sports are in Radioactivity, OBN IIIs, and Video, do not make the mistake of thinking they are merely living beneath the shadows of their other bands, stealing from their deli plates in the green room. Bad Sports has its own identity that’s rooted in both early punk and rock’n’roll—Ramones bubblegum-wrapped bullets, Van Halen’s high-stepping fi reworks flair—but the longer they exist, they’re filling that high-tension crackle and gymnastic sparkle with a catchy darkness. Their music is becoming more vulnerable and creepy; suffused in twilight weirdness. Then mix that with self-effacing confidence, nascent slam poetry, lottery dreams of running a bed and breakfast, ten years of severe beatings as a band, and 203,000 miles in their tour van the past four years. You come out the other end of the tunnel with expectations calibrated, a friend’s bed broken, and a shattered windshield.

When they play live, they’re a three-fingered fist; an undeniably tight, tense, vein-bulged statement of purpose.

After this interview ended, we shared quite possibly the best peach we’ve all ever eaten. Orville learned new ways to make steel cut oatmeal. Gregory disappeared until the show and then re-disappeared until they got back in the van for San Francisco the next morning, and Daniel lamented playing in Japanese pants with special heat technology. Sweeatttty.” –Todd Taylor

Jaime Hernandez photo by Amina Cruz
Jaime Hernandez:
Interview by Ever Velasquez, Becky Rodriquez, and Todd Taylor.
“Jaime Hernandez is more than a mere comic book writer or illustrator. He is part of La Familia Hernandez—Jaime (Xaime), Mario, and Gilbert (Beto)—a group of brothers who created the expansive world of Love and Rockets in 1981. It intertwines three separate narratives, one from each brother, across multiple locations within a creative universe still active today.

I was about fifteen when I picked up my first collection of Love and Rockets while working at a comic book store. A dumb, old customer dude gave me a copy and said,
“You need this.” I was surprised. He wasn’t just being a creepy dude trying to hit on me.
The book was instantly relatable.

It was the first comic book I’d read to address women being queer and gender fluidity. It was full of people of color. It was populated with women being smart about their sexuality, of women often using their sexuality to get what they want. Women in other comics were most often one-dimensional objects of desire, but Jaime treated women… as women. Who they are as individuals matters. They’re as diverse as school teachers, strippers, punk musicians, and luchadoras. And he depicts without judgment.

Although each one of the brother’s individual works brings something uniquely different to the table of Love and Rockets, it’s how Jaime captures the soul and spirit of each one of his characters—while showing the beauty of each—that never stops amazing me, often leaving me dead in my tracks.

In the following interview, we only focused on a few of Jaime’s Love and Rockets cast of characters. Maggie does it all. She starts as a mechanic and shows us everything she’s made of with every issue. Hopey is Maggie’s best friend and is the more in your-face- character of the duo. They go on endless adventures. (I see myself as a mix between Maggie and Hopey.) Ray is the quiet male equal to Maggie. He’s attractive and set in his own way. Nothing ever gets to him. Speedy—my self-proclaimed man in the series—makes his appearance as the best-looking cholo in Barrio Hoppers. Frogmouth is everything wrong in a person packed in a beautiful female form, which allows her to do as she pleases.

We laughed throughout this interview as Jaime, who was open and warm, talked about how he got into comics; creating his characters; and how dinosaurs, cholos, and punks can be worked into a single storyline.” –Ever Velasquez

Midnite Snaxxx: Interview by Rosie Gonce

“Midnite Snaxxx is a passion-packed project filled with four individuals who, at the end of the day, just want to have fun. The Oakland, Calif. band has a love of—and a joy for—creating punk music. They play fast, gritty, punk rock that always has a hook. While it may appear that they sing about simple concepts, like space invaders, their lyrics dive deeper and are delivered with powerful, melodic female vocals riddled with in-your-face attitude and spunk. Midnite Snaxxx is at times reminiscent of the Buzzcocks and the Undertones with spastic drumming and driving guitars, but they add extra flavor with surfy guitar leads and walking bass lines that make it impossible not to want to dance.
It’s evident from both their steady record releases over the years and natural drive to succeed as a band, they have a mature, endlessly progressive, and very realistic relationship with their musical careers. They’re friends and they’re focused. They share the same musical goals as they lift each other up to thrive as a unit. Through mutual respect, open-mindedness, critical thinking, and a constant sense of humor, Midnite Snaxxx aren’t going anywhere, except exactly where they want to go.” –Rosie Gonce


One Punk’s Guide to Gardening
by Jon Mule

“Today is President’s Day. I don’t have to go to work. If I wanted, I could spend the whole day listening to the Low Culture record I just got in the mail and reading some comics that have been stacked up on my nightstand for too long. Or I could go with the calendar theme and watch JFK or Dr. Strangelove. It could be a lazy day off but I am behind schedule and need to get some dirty work done outside.

After a cup of coffee and a quick review of the headlines, I go to my local nursery to buy plants and seeds. It is mid-February in Southern California and time to start thinking about the spring and summer and what I want to plant in the garden boxes in my front and back yards. My number one priority is usually fruits and vegetables, but today I’m thinking about drought-tolerant, flowering plants. I buy some Mexican Marigolds, Allyson Heather, and Butterfly Bush. Come spring, these should be settled in and producing a colorful assortment of flowers. The flowers will attract plant-pollinating insects, while the leaves themselves will provide shade for manure-dropping and pest-gobbling birds and lizards. The more movement going on in my front yard, the better. Movement is life.” –Jon Mule


Homelessness photo by Cheryl Klein
This DIY Project Called Survival: Homelessness, Creativity, and a City in Crisis
by Cheryl Klein

“I began noticing the motor homes last year, but they must have started before that. They lined Figueroa Street in my northeast Los Angeles neighborhood—beige hulks with names like Arctic Fox, Bounder, Holiday Rambler, Pace Arrow, Winnebago. Simultaneous nods to Native Americans and rugged independence. They’d seen better days, as had their occupants. Growing up, my family took exactly one kind of vacation.

We camped in a 1979 Dodge Four Star motor home with rust-colored curtains that shed their rubber backing like bread crumbs in a forest. There was a map of the U.S. on a table that turned into a bed. We parked on the shoulders of lonely highways while my dad swore and tinkered with the engine. At one point he just started traveling with a spare alternator; that’s how often it broke down.

I envied kids who stayed in hotel rooms and visited amusement parks. Seeing motor homes floods me with nostalgia, but also subtle shame. I know how the tilted oven cooks food unevenly. I’ve listened to John Denver and Neil Diamond on the eight-track tape deck. I’ve never been homeless or anywhere close, but I know the naked intimacy of pulling up in a car that also holds your underwear and your mustard yellow, plastic toilet.

One day all the motor homes disappeared from Figueroa, only to pop up in smaller clusters elsewhere. The city seemed to be treating them like toadstools—easy to kick over, hard to extract at the roots. Someone spray painted “MOVE IT” in large black letters on the back of a motor home parked on Ave. 56. The owner moved it, to Ave. 54.

All this unfolded the same summer my partner and I moved out of the duplex where we’d lived for nine years without a single rent increase and emerged blinking into the harsh light of market rent in a gentrifying neighborhood. We were lucky—my dad ended up buying a house that we rent from him, which I jokingly (guiltily) refer to as my subsidized housing. Except that it’s not really a joke at all.

This is a story about people under pressure in a city that may become a victim of its own financial fortune. It only took one Facebook post to find friends who’d found themselves without a place to sleep. That’s the thing about homelessness: it’s right there, if you’re looking.” –Cheryl Klein

Donna Ramone explains her relationship to Ramadan. (instagram)

Jim Ruland reflects on his cousin’s life. (blog, twitter)

Lucky Nakazawa wonders why the TP colors don’t run. (website)

Ben Snakepit introduces his new best friend, Frankie (the puppy). (website)

Liz Prince considers the little good things and little bad things. (website)

Rev. Nørb is a good boy seeing the Dead Boys. (website)

Designated Dale remembers what it was like growing up in L.A. in the late ‘70s.

Art Fuentes waves goodbye to the time clock. (twitter)

Puro Pinche Poetry: Gritos Del Barrio (Edited by Ever Velasquez and Nicole Macias)

“I threw a drenched paper towel
Over sparkling water
And let the freeze
Drip
Into my eyes
As I listened to
CSS
And remembered
What it was like
To be young
Sad
Queer
And alone.”
–Candace Hansen, from “Queer elder on summer solstice weekend”
(ig: @candohando)

Rhythm Chicken
rides a bike made out of cotton candy and firecrackers. (facebook)

MariNaomi is listening to the Smiths and throwing up.

Jennifer Whiteford ain’t having the Marshmallow Test.

And photos from the lovely and talented:

Dan Monick (website, twitter)

Rachel Murray Framingheddu

Chris Boarts Larson (facebook, website)

This issue is dedicated to VLHS.

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