Amherst’s Department of Spanish welcomed famed cartoonist Jaime Hernandez to Fayerweather’s Pruyne Lecture Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 30. He sat on a panel alongside Professor of Spanish Ilan Stavans, as well as Visiting Professor of Spanish Frederick Aldama, who wrote about Hernandez in his book “Your Brain on Latino Comics.” The Spanish department hosted a small reception afterwards.
Jaime Hernandez, along with his brothers Gilbert and Mario, began writing and illustrating “Love and Rockets” in 1981. The comic consists of two ongoing serial narratives, Gilbert’s “Palomar” and Jaime’s “Hoppers 13” (also known as “Locas”) stories.
The protagonist of “Hoppers 13” is Margarita “Maggie” Chascarillo — an intelligent, punk-loving, bisexual Chicana. When asked by a student why he chose to make all of his main characters female, Hernandez responded that he loves women in every capacity,. He makes this clear through his illustrations of diverse groups of women. He also said that at the time he conceived the the story, he was entrenched in the rowdy and rebellious punk scene.
Hernandez talked about how he is continuously influenced by his Californian roots. He grew up in Oxnard, a densely populated, agricultural and predominately hispanic city in Southern California. Hernandez recalled how his mother would encourage her four sons to read comic books. She was a big fan of the traditional Marvel and DC superhero stories herself. She also introduced him to rock music, which expanded his cultural horizons as a teen.
Now in his 50s, Hernandez does not plan to stop writing about Maggie anytime soon. The character is canonically well into her 40s, actually. However, what you won’t be seeing is her story on the big screen.
After he was asked if “Love and Rockets” would be turned into a film or film series, the soft-spoken cartoonist answered a little more firmly: “We’ve been in talks with film companies for years and we have yet to find someone who will stay true to my work, true to these characters. So, no. Not in the near future at least.”