cover image Ghost of Hoppers

Ghost of Hoppers

Jaime Hernandez, . . Fantagraphics, $18.95 (120pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-700-1

This 22nd volume of the critically acclaimed Love and Rockets series finds recent divorcée Maggie Chascarrillo managing a low-rent apartment complex in San Fernando Valley. She's struggling with being single, navigating a complicated relationship with her on-again off-again girlfriend Hopey and catering to a group of eccentric tenants in a complex where the air-conditioning never works. Then a crazy old "witch" legendary in Maggie's childhood neighborhood comes to stay for a few days and things take a turn for the weird. At the same time, Maggie meets Vivian, a tempestuous, deep-voiced bombshell who is intent on seducing Maggie, if only out of boredom. But where Vivian goes, trouble follows, in the form of a murderous ex and his jealous fiancée. Hernandez's tale meanders through the life of his punk Mexican heroine, using bold dialogue and just a touch of the supernatural. The clear black-and-white drawings echo classic comic books like Archie, but the figures are drawn with unparalleled nuance and realism. Although newcomers may have a hard time catching all the subtleties of past relationships (the "ghost" of the title), they will have no trouble marveling at Hernandez's intense artistry and humanism, which put him among the giants of the medium. (Mar.)