Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thirty Years of Hopey Glass, Super Punk Badass!

With a new issue of the Harvey Award-winning series Love and Rockets: New Stories poised to hit the streets, it's time to look at some of Hopey Glass's moments of punk badassery. I had to limit myself to the first twenty or so issues of Love and Rockets, volume one. Otherwise, this blog post would be almost as long as the series itself. With a career dating way back in 1981 with Los Bros Hernandez's first self-published comic, Hopey's done too many memorable things.  Things that make you laugh, things that make your dog smile and your grandpa blush.  She's such an amazing character, practically any scene she's in becomes a medium-altering moment in comic book history.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a little.  Hopey's probably only the third or fourth most important character in American comics.  And it only took twenty-six years for Fantagraphics to publish a book with her name in the title.  But this poses a question-- just how did Jaime Hernandez pack so much awesome into such a teensy-tiny character? I don't think we'll ever know.  Perhaps she sprang from some real-life source, some proto-Hopey raising punk hell, throwing bottles, spray-painting walls, blowing the boys and girls away with her spiked hair and mean eyebrows.  Perhaps it's a mystery best left unsolved. However, I do know I would never cross Hopey no matter how petite she may be.

1) Hopey's gleefully violent imagination (Love and Rockets #3). When Maggie reluctantly tells a group of doubters about her brief career as a superhero's sidekick, Hopey takes a little mental revenge.

2) Hopey fights the law (LR #5).  An untagged wall drives Hopey to distraction and depression.  With the encouragement of her friends Maggie and Izzy, she sets out to do something about it, only to have her moment of triumph interrupted by Officer Sado, her personal nemesis-cop.  She ends up doing something about that, too.  Sado later made sergeant, no doubt due to his Javertian pursuit of La Hopita.

3)  Hopey hits her finger with a hammer (LR #7).  With Maggie away repairing spaceships, Hopey decides to go all Bob Villa and fix up their dumpy habitat.  Too bad she's not as skilled with tools as she is with spraycans of paint.

4) Hopey breaks the fourth wall (LR #10).  Hopey loves Maggie, but she's not one to suffer fools gladly, even fools she's sleeping with.  She has a request for the guy who created the two of them.

5) Hopey gets a haircut at an old school barber shop (LR #13).  Where else would Hopey get her hair cut?  This is one of my favorite comic book panels of all time.  I love how Hernandez has Hopey's toes barely touching the barber chair's foot rest base-plate.  When I was a kid, I got my hair cut in a similar place, with photos of gunfighters like Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid on the wall.  Ironically, my barber's ex-wife blew him away with a shotgun.  This drawing brings back memories of that so vivid and detailed, I can almost smell the baby powder and rubbing alcohol and feel the goosebumps I'd break out in when the barber buzzed the back of my neck with the electric shaver.

6)  Hopey wears a vintage-like dress while practicing bass in the backyard (LR #14).  She practices?  Even a vicious little punk chick like Hopey wants to feel like a princess every once in a while.  I love the way her butch hair and in-your-face personality clash with her demure girly-girl dress.  Notice also her bare feet.

7)  Hopey helps Izzy ruin Daffy's day (LR #15).  Poor Daffy.  I love her.  She's really just a sweet kid with a head full of mixed-up ideas that a bit too conventional and suburban for Hopey's tastes.  Looking like the long-lost sisters of Morticia Addams, Hopey and Izzy arrive on the beach pop the balloon made up of Daffy's romantic notions.

8)  Hopey practices street justice (LR #18).  Jaime Hernandez shows some of his humor comics influence in the second panel of this sequence where Hopey does what many of us have dreamed of doing.  Take that, you rich jerk!

9) Hopey's famous near-homophony (LR #18).  Or mondegreen, if you like.  Hopey rarely gives strangers a straight answer, but even she's stumped when it comes to the names of the songs her band performs.  She still hasn't lived this one down.

10) Hopey steals and reads Izzy's diary while Terry reminisces about beating up the hated Julie Wree (LR #19).  During a break from band practice, Hopey obsesses over Izzy's diary.  Terry Downe, her former lover-- and the person most interested in actually becoming a musician in the group-- takes a moment to flash back to to the good ol' days, when Hopey was hers-all-hers and they terrorized Julie Wree on a regular basis.  Man, all these years later and they still hate Julie Wree!

11)  Hopey stabs Terry in the back (LR #19).  Terry has a lot of bad memories about her brief relationship with Hopey.  She learns the hard way you can never get too comfortable with Hopey because she always has her own agenda.  Just when you think you're on the same side, she chooses another team.  Why?  We often learn Maggie's motivations, but Hopey's remain an enigma.  That's just Hopey being Hopey.

12)  Hopey makes the first move on Maggie (LR #20).  While they've both been with plenty of others in the decades since-- Hopey has a miscarriage as the result of a wild three-way and Maggie gets married and divorced-- one of the ongoing plot threads in the various "Locas" stories has always been their on-again/off-again love affair.  Strangely enough, it's always seemed to be more off than on.  Hernandez brought them together, then created long storylines that split them apart.  Delicious torture for the characters (including Daffy, who's as obsessed with the Maggie-Hopey pairing as many of the series' readers) and the fans.  Who knows what was really going on in Hopey's mind right here, but this is a flashback scene to their early days, showing how it started.

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