The Love Bunglers – June 2014 (Fantagraphics Books)

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TITLE: The Love Bunglers (collected from “Love and Rockets: New Stories Vol. 3 and 4)

YEAR: June 2014

COMPANY: Fantagraphics Books

Story and Art by Jaime Hernandez

For those who grew up reading “Love and Rockets”, many grew up reading stories featuring character Maggie Luisa Chascarillo, one of the members of a group of friends From Huerta (a.k.a. “Hoppers”), California known as “LOCAS” by a mechanic.

While many grew up reading about the spunky or crazy adventures featuring Maggie, Jaime Hernandez has put a lot into the history of Maggie from her younger years to her adult years.  And because many have grew up reading “Love and Rockets” since its inception in the early ’80s, many can sympathize or feel the emotional challenge that Maggie goes through as an adult, but also knowing how her past has affected her future.

But it wasn’t until the release of “Love and Rockets: New Stories” vol. 3 (released in October 2010) and 4 (released in October 2011) that fans would rejoice for the return of a new “LOCAS” story from Jaime Hernandez.   But to finally now get a perspective of Maggie through the story “Browntown” and learn the truth of the past of Maggie and her siblings and also her relationship with her parents.

So popular an issue that vol. 4 is sold out and if you want a copy, prepare to shell a lot of cash for it.  But if you feel that paying over a hundred bucks for a $6 issue is insane, then you have an option with the release of Jaime Hernandez “The Love Bunglers” which focuses specifically on Maggie’s stories from both “Love and Rockets: New Stories” vol. 3 and 4.

Here is a spoilerless summary of what is featured in the book:

  • The Love Bunglers Part One – An older man can be seen stalking Maggie, who is this man?  Meanwhile, we watch as Maggie hangs out with Reno and her high school friend Ray Dominguez, who is now an artist.
  • Browntown – A young Maggie, her sister Esther, her brother Calvin and baby brother Manuel and their parents move to Cadezza where Maggie’s father’s job is located.  But how will life go for Maggie and siblings?
  • The Love Bunglers Part Two  – Maggie goes on her first date with Ray and we find out who the old guy that is stalking Maggie is.
  • The Love Bunglers Part Three –  Maggie and Angel Rivera go to visit Ray’s art class and they encounter Vivian Solis.
  • The Love Bunglers Part Four – Maggie and Angel go to a party and we learn more about Ray’s financial situation.
  • Return For Me – A story featuring Letty Chavez, Maggie’s best friend when she was a young girl up to a teenager and we find out what happened to Letty.
  • The Love Bunglers Part Five – Ray sees the older stalker guy (who has mental problems) who is disturbing traffic and tries to call him down, but what happens after Ray tries to intervene?

OK, There is more to the summaries but I kept it vague because part of enjoying these stories is the experience and just reading the emotions and memories that are presented in these pages.

Jaime Hernandez has literally written a “Love and Rockets” masterpiece by capturing humanity in its naturalist and some may see it as seeing the worst in one’s life and see how it can really affect someone.

For those who have read the “LOCAS” storylines and have seen Maggie overcome relationship problems, the death of a friend and the guilt that she has kept inside her.  We have seen her depressed and emotional and in this book, we get to know much more about Maggie’s life and we start to realize how many skeletons are in her closet, how much guilt she has kept inside her and what has made her, to where she is today in her ’40s.

Possibly the most devastating but also a well-written storyline was “Browntown” showing us how life was for Maggie and her siblings while she was younger.   But also how much of her past was kept from her by her mother in regards to a sibling.

For those who are sensitive about sexual abuse, part of what makes “Browntown” so powerful is the most unfortunate thing that happened to Maggie’s sibling and knowing what has happened to that sibling, certain situations have been kept as a secret from Maggie and the other children.  But also a situation in how Maggie’s choice would affect her parents and their marriage.

And this would set a chain of events in the life of Maggie, from the way she has handled herself in relationships, even healthwise as part of her depression is eating a lot and we see how Maggie changed throughout the years.  Unfortunately, for Maggie, there have been situations that would lead her to feel depressed.   It was not just Speedy, but we learn another fateful death of Maggie’s close friend.

In terms of relationships, there have been many men who wanted and loved Maggie in the past and some of it is featured in this book.  In fact, this whole book will no doubt impact you, if you are a “Love and Rockets” fan because certain things start to make sense in the way we looked at Maggie.

Through this book, we get to Maggie and Hopey, now in their ’40s and this is very interesting because those who read the stories since the beginning of “Love and Rockets” remember them as kids into punk, but then seeing the characters evolve through the years.

Overall, “The Love Bunglers” is powerful, its imagery and depictions of memories of ones past to the way the book was written and delving into Maggie’s life, in some ways, how Jaime Hernandez portrays memories throughout this book, I’m impressed!

This is no doubt one of the most powerful storyline in the 30+ years of “Love and Rockets” and if you are a fan of Jaime Hernandez stories of “LOCAS” especially of Maggie and don’t own “Love and Rockets: New Stories” issues 3-4, then “The Love Bunglers” is a book worth owning.  Recommended!


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