Next up for our "Comics Everyone Should Read" series, we're here to talk about ,Heartbreak Soup & Human Diastrophism. Similar to how his brothers (Jaime) Love & Rockets stories take place in Hopper's (a fictional Los Angeles barrio), Gilbert's stories center around a fictional Central American town called Palomar. While the town of Palomar is small, the cast of characters is vast. Each of these characters are eccentric in their own ways, coupled with the humorous and heartfelt storytelling, make them wholly human. Full of humor, drama, and excitement; these tales are a must for any comic fans.
The first half (Heartbreak Soup) of Gilbert Hernandez's critically acclaimed magical-realist tales of "Palomar," begins with the groundbreaking "Sopa de Gran Pena". It introduces most of the main cast of characters as children, plus the imposing new "girl on the block", Luba. You immediately feel a deep connection to the characters and become invested in their lives. This first collection is a sprawling epic that spans nearly twenty years. While they're not in chronological order, Hernandez weaves them together effortlessly and keeps you engaged with every turn of the page.
The second half (Human Diastrophism) of Gilbert Hernandez's acclaimed "Palomar," begins with the landmark "Human Diastrophism" full length story. It was named "one of the greatest comic book stories of the 20th Century" by The Comics Journal. "Human Diastrophism" is the only graphic novel length "Palomar" story from Gilbert. This 2nd volume also has post-"Diastrophism" stories, where we learn a little bit more about Luba's past (as seen in the epic Poison River). This volume has some heavy themes and is definitely not for the faint of heart. Gilbert really hits his stride with this book, and is largely responsible for winning me over as a fan.
Gilbert covers a wide range of themes (love, sex, death, and family) while also delving into the cultural aspects of these Central American townsfolk. The writing definitely showcases his skillful worldbuilding and the art seems to get better with every panel. I truly believe that black and white art showcases a cartoonist's skill in a way that you sometimes lose when it’s colored. The rawness of the art exudes so much emotion and his facial expressions take the story to a whole new level. Love & Rockets is a series that is well worth your time, no matter where you start. Whether Jaime’s work or Gilbert’s, you can’t go wrong. I can’t recommend enough how important this series is to comics. Now get out there and Read More Comics!