Graphic Novel 'Is This How You See Me?' Carries on the Legacy

The Hernandez Bros.' Love and Rockets graphic fiction series has created a community of misfits filled with as much anger as warmth, with as many mistakes as wisdom, and with as much sadness as joy.

Is This How You See Me?
Jaime Hernandez


Apr 2019


There are few comics series, or series in general, that hold up as well over a 40+ year run as the Hernandez Bros.' Love and Rockets. A series filled with wide-ranging stories across time periods and adventures in space, those focused on life at home have always stood out. Their friendship, romantic relationship, the local punk scene they're a part of, and the family and friends surrounding them offer a rich story filled with characters who've grown (and some who haven't) over the years, with many shifts in their personal dynamics.

Is This How You See Me? centers on a reunion of sorts that begins with Maggie and Hopey leaving their current relationships behind to travel together and meet up with old friends. Following up on the last Locas series, The Love Bunglers, Maggie and Hopey are older and experiencing many of the life shifts that occur with age. But for all the natural, to-be-expected changes, such as Hopey's casually tossed off mention of menopause, and the adult relationships they're currently in, Maggie and Hopey still manage to fall back into familiar dynamics when together.

When Maggie awkwardly attempts to seduce Hopey at the beginning of their trip, Hopey's obvious discomfort and Maggie's embarrassment hangs over much of the story. The push and pull of their relationship has consistently been an important component in not only the ways they interact, but it's also instrumental in fueling growth, however painful it may seem at the time. What's never in doubt is that this current awkwardness ultimately won't come between them. Whether they're struggling in the present-day or remembering past events, the two always find their way back to one another. Even as Daffy amusingly points out that they're "always falling out", their history is too big and too entwined to truly part ways.

The flashbacks interspersed throughout the reunion story highlight Hernandez's storytelling gifts wonderfully. As they individually and collectively reminisce about the old punk house where they used to hang out, their memories are colored by their youth, filled with possibilities. Even though in reality they were surrounded by drug dealers, criminals, and other unsavory characters, they seemed almost blissfully unaware of the danger and the inherent sadness of the many who passed through their lives at the time. It's a clever and effective tool that not only contrasts the past and present physically in showing young versions of the characters, but also in terms of the ways the plans made in the past collide with the reality of the present.

Along with the emotional stakes of the story, Hernandez still manages to include the humor so integral to the series. It's employed at just the right times to ensure that things aren't weighed down too heavily by the difficulties and tragic circumstances that are also central to the story. In balancing so deftly the many layers of the story, Hernandez adds depth and truth to these beloved characters.

In fact, Hernandez's affection for these characters is always in evidence. The art of the Love and Rockets series is praised for its style and beauty, but it's perhaps the Locas characters who exhibit that care and attention most beautifully. Even as they've aged (Maggie has gained weight and Hopey now wears glasses), they remain the same vital and charismatic characters they've unfailingly been. Much of that is owed to Hernandez's art, which showcases their humanity and loveliness always.

As the reunion moves closer to the concert featuring the local punk bands of their youth, Maggie and Hopey interact with old friends, bandmates, and others from their old scene, the dynamics of the past continue to dictate the dynamics of the present. It's in Hernandez's connection to the history of these characters that they've become so fully realized. Because of this shared history the past informs the future, remaining as essential in the now as it was in the then.

Above all, Love and Rockets, and all the various incarnations that world has inhabited over the years, has created a community of misfits filled with as much anger as warmth, with as many mistakes as wisdom, and with as much sadness as joy. That full spectrum is embodied most beautifully in Maggie and Hopey, and Is This How You See Me? reinforces it perfectly.







A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.


DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.


JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.


​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.


Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times


Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.


How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.