Tuesday, November 6, 2012

30 in 30: Girl Crazy by Gilbert Hernandez

#5: Girl Crazy
Storytellers: Gilbert Hernandez
Publisher: Dark Horse
Year Of Publication: 1997
Page Count (can be approximate or in # of issues format): 88 pages

Something that comics does very well is to utilize a science fiction setting to mash-up a variety of times/places/genres convincingly.  Girl Crazy begins with three chapters introducing three of the four protagonists – Gaby, Maribel and Kitten – all at home in their various milieus, the 1950s, a jungle setting ala Tarzan, and a somewhat dystopian future run by the IRS with people in robotic gorilla suits sent to collect back taxes (this final setting actually opens the book, setting the stage for the coming story).  Even with the weird time-jumps, because it is done well by Hernandez – combined with the opening sci-fi scenes – it doesn’t feel jarring at all, whereas this might not work as well in other media. 
This isn’t necessarily something new, but one can use imagery to convey the emotion of a character.  A specific instance of this comes at the end of the first chapter when the IRS Left Branch chief is feeling sullen and depressed for a mistake he made that cost his assistant to be tortured by the Chief’s superiors, and after his assistant leaves for the day, we see the Chief through a window, sitting alone on an old crate.  Most of the panel is black (the darkness of night outside) and seeing him small in the background, his shoulders slumped, peering out at us through the window conveys all that emotion and more.  Simple but effective storytelling.


As is typical of Beto’s non-Love & Rockets work, this book is rather “lightweight” as far as any meaning or emotional charge one can take from it (the shorter page count as compared to the breadth of his work on Love & Rockets may also add to that).  That said, I am a huge fan of the Hernandez Brothers, just to lay my biases out there.  Beto’s artwork is simple yet elegant, and his storytelling is stellar.  This is an enjoyable read, if you’re looking for something fun, which is why I gave it a B- rather than an A.

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