The great Gilbert Hernandez is one part of the famed Los Bros Hernandez, the genius creatives behind Love & Rockets.
The Hernandez brothers self-published the first issue of Love and Rockets in 1981, but since 1982 it has been published by the famed Fantagraphics. Over the course of his long career, he has not only worked on this critically acclaimed series but also side projects at DC, Dark Horse and Drawn & Quarterly.
He has long been lauded as one of the greatest cartoonists of our generation, and continues to put out great stories with amazing art. He recently started serializing a new title, Psychodrama Illustrated, that can be found directly at Fantagraphics site. If you haven't had a chance to check out his work, you're missing out on some of the greatest comics ever created. Hope you guys enjoy this chat with Gilbert Hernandez.
RYAN: First off, thank you for doing this. What was your first exposure to comic books?
GILBERT: My mother read comics when she was young in the 1940's and when my brother Mario came along, she let him read comics. He became enamored with them as my mother was back in the day. He's 4 years older that me so comics were always around when I was growing up. Mom's favorites were Captain Marvel and The Spirit. She had discerning taste.
RYAN: What comics or creators were the biggest influences on you?
GILBERT: We looked at all kinds of comics back in the 1960's, like super heroes, monsters, sf, war, westerns, kid comics, teen comics, just about every kind except romance comics, at least not until we were adults. We were a household of 5 boys until our sister was born. Every comic that I ever looked at as a kid was an influence, I imagine.
RYAN: What made you and your bros, decide to go the self publishing route, when putting out that first Love & Rockets?
GILBERT: We drew comics for our own amusement as kids and when we were skilled enough to make comics to actually be read by potential readers, we decided by then that we were no longer interested in mainstream comics and wanted to do whatever we felt like. Immediately making comics that were personal to us became the most important thing.
RYAN: Was it always your plan to do a series of stories with such a vast amount of characters?
GILBERT: That happened organically. We read DC and marvel comics and both had a vast cast of characters, so we knew it could be done.
RYAN: Since you've written and drawn the characters of Palomar for such a long time, how do you plan the future of your characters? Do you meticulously plot out the future of the series? Or do you take it one issue at a time?
GILBERT: Depends on the character. Sometimes I'll have a final story for one, and others might surprise me with an ending or they might continue on. I never know for sure. RYAN: What is your personal favorite of all the stories you've created?
GILBERT: All of them. It's like picking a favorite child. RYAN: Do you have a definitive end planned for your side of Love and Rockets?
GILBERT: I imagine the time is coming where I'll be considering ending the character's lives, whether they die or simply fade away. RYAN: Do you and Jaime bounce ideas off each other when working on L&R, or do you guys just do your own thing? GILBERT: Back when we lived closer together we'd see each other's work in progress. Most comments were about misspellings or forgetting to blacken in an unfinished part of a panel. New ideas often came from us talking about our own plans to each other. That was then-now we're completely on our own with our comics and don't see the other's until it's going to press.
RYAN: You've also done work outside of L&R, what do you like best about collaborating with other creatives?
GILBERT: To be honest, I usually do work like that because it's a job. I'm happiest doing my own comics by myself. RYAN: What projects are you currently working on?
GILBERT: Beside the next Love and Rockets, I'm continuing my underground comic Blubber and my L&R spinoff Psychodrama Illustrated.
Jaime and I are working on separate stories for a one shot all color 80 page super hero comic.
Why? Haven't done it before.
RYAN: With L&R widely celebrated as one of the greatest comics of all time, what would you say has been the most rewarding experience of your career?
GILBERT: That it all actually came to fruition and I can continue making comics as long as someone publishes them! RYAN: Lastly, what advice would you give to up and coming cartoonists?
GILBERT: Do it because you love it. It's so difficult to make a living making comics unless you're one of the very few lucky ones. It hasn't been at all easy for me but I'm driven to continue because we believe in what we're doing. And don't give up. Jaime and I are only here because we've never given up.