SDCC ’16: Crushing the Mainstream: Love & Rockets’ Past, Present and Future

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By Donald Powell

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The Love & Rockets panel on Thursday at SDCC gave a bird’s eye view of the history of underground comics over the past 30 years. In addition to Love & Rockets co-creators Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, the panel was moderated by Gary Groth, Fantagraphics’ head honcho and Comics Journal gadfly.

The Hernandez Brothers provided a loving tour through the history of Love & Rockets, with the sweet payoff when the brothers announced the release of a new Love & Rockets series. While info was sparse about release dates, the Hernandez Brothers did mention they will each tackle 16 pages per issue [Ed note – I believe that Los Bros are talking about the upcoming Love & Rockets Magazine here, coming in September].

“It was never my dream to be a mainstream person. My dream was to crush the mainstream,” remarked Gilbert as they discussed the battles they fought against the calcification and stagnation of mainstream comics. Both brothers were drawn to the punk scene in late seventies Oxnard and Los Angeles, and this rebellious D.I.Y. spirit informed their work from the start.

“Punk took the chip on our shoulder and turned it into a boulder,” said Gilbert.

Love & Rockets was every bit as new and vibrant as the music scene that inspired it. Groth, who has been publishing the brothers since 1982, remembered his feelings when he first encountered the early Love &Rockets, stating “You don’t know how revolutionary was at the time, if you weren’t there.”

Love & Rockets was also famous for mainstreaming LBTGQ relationships before it was ‘cool’. Jaime, speaking of his lesbian lovers Maggie and Hopey, mentioned that he had hoped that people would respond to it, but he had no idea that the characters would be become so iconic and emulated.

The return of Love & Rockets is a celebratory victory for fans of indie, sexy comics devoted to real people, living real lives. The Hernandez brothers may have mellowed a bit with age, but their devotion to their craft and their capacity to remain inspired, and it’s damn important that these ‘defiant brats’ are returning to the original wellspring of their careers.

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