If you’ve read any of the Hernandez Brothers’ Love and Rockets books and have not already fallen in love with Maggie Chascarillo, Jaime Hernandez’s newest Fantagraphics release will most certainly convince you otherwise. A coming of age story, without the candy coating we’ve come to expect, The Love Bunglers explores the complexity of growing up – the icky feelings that come with the loss of innocence, with parents and their children becoming peers, and the trade-offs that come with the acquisition of wisdom. And it does so without ever losing sight of the wonder of it all.
The story is centered around Maggie’s adolescent and teen years, the events and experiences that shape her, along with her parents, brothers, and sister. “There are certain things about my family Mom always preferred to keep hush hush,” Maggie confesses. And we readers, via the privilege of the omniscient narrator, discover even the most unspeakable of the Chascarillos’ truths. With these revelations, there is much to learn of acceptance and letting go.
The jarring realization of the proverbial cruelty and indifference of life, of how little control each of us actually has, and of how much of the future can be determined in childhood, offsets itself as a constant reminder that there is much for which we should be grateful. Maggie’s story is a reminder, too, of how we can be pushed or compelled away from the right path, and how lucky it is to find the way back.
There is a sort of reunion or retrospective feel to this book. We see the usual Love and Rockets suspects, but with a newfound affinity and appreciation. So intimate, it can be, to learn what makes an old friend tick… Jaime Hernandez and his brother Gilbert have spent thirty plus years cultivating this world and the characters within are handled accordingly, lovingly, like their children. This book is about life, tragic and triumphant, unfair, and warm and fuzzy all the while.