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The Best: Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers”

Every now and then, if I’m lucky, I might just bump into a stone cold masterpiece. The kind of art that makes you just want to shout and scream it is so good. So, in the interest of doing just that, let me say that this Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers” ((Love and Rockets: New Stories no. 4) is such a work. I don’t even need to qualify it for myself (i.e. “what’s coming later; what’s come before; shouldn’t there be a cooling period?”) when I say: This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium. You can hold that over me in twenty years and I’ll still be right, and Frank Santoro will still fight you for it.

“The Love Bunglers” is the story of Jaime’s longtime heroine, Maggie, finally holding onto something. That something is also a someone: Her longtime off and on lover, Ray Dominguez. Maggie’s losses over the last thirty years have been dramatic: She lost her culture; her brother; her profession; her friends — in issue 4′s side story, “Return For Me”, we learn the sudden, chilling fate of an adolescent pal, shown in detached detail. But Maggie’s ability to navigate and find life is what’s made her a compelling character. Ray, as in the films Jaime loves, is the one man we, and his creator, want for Maggie. Not because she needs him, but because they, together, are part of a more perfect equation. In taking us through lives, deaths, and near-fatalities, “TLB” and “Return For Me” encapsulates Maggie’s emotional history as it moves from resignation (Maggie fails to purchase a garage, i.e. fails to fulfill her dreams) to memories of loss, to sudden violence (a theme in this story) to love and contentment.

Jaime does all this with such apparent ease that for many readers, myself included, the suddenness of his twists are actually physically affecting. Of course, that’s in the pacing and the prose. But then there is the drawing: Jaime’s line has passed out of mechanical perfection and into something that is personal, with the occasional wiggle. It’s a lived-in line that now indicates ideas and emotions as much as it delineates forms. Nothing in his comics looks like anything in anyone else’s comics. So, for example, this alleyway is not just any alleyway — it’s an alleyway constructed entirely from Jaime’s lines, gestures, and pictorial vocabulary.

And this end-of-the-day-going-home-alone look of exhaustion on Ray’s face is startlingly familiar in its realism. But it’s a realism particular to Jaime’s characters.

Jaime is an artist in complete control of his medium, and in such a “simple” way: with him it is all ink on paper. There are no outs in his work — what he lays down is what it is. Formally, Jaime is an artist who seems to adore cartooning, but has always resisted histrionics or anything smacking of “formal play”. But on pages 92 and 93 (which I won’t reproduce here because really should be experienced) he gives in, and in two facing pages 9 panels each, replays the history of Maggie and Ray’s relationship from each player’s point of view, structured so that each of their faces in each panel is both looking at the other and, in the bottom row, at us, too. It’s eerie. It’s also suspenseful, as Ray has just been horribly assaulted, and since I was reading this in real time, I assumed he was dead. The mirroring effect (which echoes a crucial sequence three pages earlier, as Maggie and Ray literally run towards each other on paper) summarizes the duo’s story so well that even a reader unfamiliar with the story could grasp the emotional arc. Jaime’s panels are so evocative and information packed that anyone can tell from the direction of Maggie’s look on page 92, panel 4, and the bemusement on Ray’s face on page 93, panel 4, that this was a time when she needed him, even if it wasn’t quite the right time.

Moving out of the doubling effect of plot and internal history, this spread also impacts the reader in personal way. As I took it in, I realized that I remembered not just the moments Jaime was referring to, but also the narratives around those moments. And furthermore, I remembered where and how and what I was when I read those moments. I remembered like the characters remembered. That’s an extraordinary thing to do to a reader. And that’s the thing about Jaime’s stories — they work on you, and embed themselves in you like little else. Structurally it’s because Jaime’s characters have aged with us, but on a deeper level it’s perhaps because, as Jaime has said, these characters are, in a sense, real to him; maybe his belief in them somehow allows us to believe in them too. It just works. They’re real.

In the end we flash forward some unspecified amont of years: Ray survives and he and Maggie are in love and Jaime signs the last panel with a heart. That signature sealed it for me. On top of everything else, “TLB” is also a love letter from its creator to his readers and to his characters. It’s a letter from an old friend, wise to the fuckery of life, to the random acts that occur and that we have no control over. Jaime, I think, used to be a bit of a romantic. He’s not anymore, but in this story he gives us something to hang onto: A piece of art that says that you should allow fear and sadness into your life, but not let those things cripple you. That sometimes life works out and sometimes not, but the things we can control, things like comics and storytelling, carry redemption. And on a more direct level, it’s as though Jaime is saying “Thank you” to us and to his characters, but he does so with all parties involved understanding that this is not the end (though as Jeet Heer reports in his upcoming column, Jaime said that when he drew the story “he was thinking that if he were hit by a bus tomorrow and killed he wanted to leave behind a story that would complete his life’s work.” Read literally, I guess I could connect this to the violences of the story itself). After all, Jaime and everyone else knows that no one stops a series at number 4. That would be silly. Comic books go on forever. What a brilliant way to show life: Give the “happy” ending, but hint at all the pain and trouble and joy, too, that will come before it.

And two last things: In talking about this issue with pals, everyone says, “But man, Gilbert is also on top… how do you even choose?” And I agree, Gilbert is on fire right now. But to discuss Gilbert is to discuss a dozen different stories and then add them up. That’s not what I want to do here. I want to do this one story. Plus, even though they share a book, to constantly link the two brothers to the exclusion of individual examination is to diminish their individual powers. And second: Lest you think our artist is going soft: A few weeks back, Jaime Hernandez, who has been publishing comics for thirty years, tweeted: “While you Brooklynites were at SPX I snuck into your studios and finished all your unfinished work and then I wept at 9/11 for each of you.” In other words, Jaime is competitive. He will crush you. I know one other “semi-elder” (sorry, Jaime, but age ain’t a lie) who cops to that kind of feeling, but man, that’s some wonderfully aggressive talk. It is as it should be: When you release a comic as great as “TLB”, and you do it as part of your ongoing series, with no fanfare, no warning, no design, no apologies, no blurbs… When you are just laying down a comic… well, Jaime did what he tweeted about, and if I was a cartoonist I’d be concerned. This guy. This guy wants to basically kill you with his work. As he should.

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37 Responses to The Best: Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers”

  1. patrick ford says:

    And what is really killer is that while Jaime was tweeting Gilbert finished two more pages.

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  3. Rico Renzi says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only grown man that cried while reading #4. I can’t read Jaime objectively anymore, does this story have the same impact on people that don’t KNOW these characters like we do? I’ve lived with them in my life so long, longer than most of my real-life friends. When I got home from work the day I read TLB I wanted to tell my wife what happened to our friends today then I remembered, she doesn’t know those “friends”. Jaime IS the greatest of all time.

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  5. I was reminded of Leo McCarey’s An Affair to Remember. It’s real cornball stuff: Cary Grant is a wealthy playboy who has an affair with Deborah Kerr on a cruise despite both being engaged to be married upon their return to the States. The affair is so magical that they agree to meet again in 6 months on the top of the Empire State Building to see if the magic is real. Cut to 6 months later: Grant arrives first, while through parallel editing Kerr is shown to be on her way in a taxi. He’s shown checking his watch with flowers, while she’s shown getting out of the taxi, but not paying attention. Cary’s real happy. Wham! Kerr’s nailed by a car. Cary waits until closing time, not knowing that Kerr has been taken to the hospital. For the rest of the film, Cary is never happy in love, wondering how he could’ve been so wrong. Kerr isn’t any happier, but doesn’t want Cary to see what’s become of her. They, of course, do meet up again a few years later with the big reveal (if you haven’t guessed by now) being that her legs are paralyzed. Cary doesn’t care, he really loves her; they embrace, the end. The film was nominated for some Oscars and the AFI calls it one of the greatest romance films of all time. I call it emotion porn. Consider the cancer subgenre: you want out-of-the-box dramatic conflict, give a main character brain cancer (cf. the current 50/50). That is, throwing in “random” misery can be as cloyingly pat and — particularly these days — come just as cheap as the predictable Hollywood happy ending of old. But mileage varies. I’d suggest watching a bunch of 50s melodramas over the next 6 months and see if you still feel the magic of this “ending” is real and the best comics has to offer.

  6. DerikB says:

    That’s an interesting comparison, Charles. I’m a fan of An Affair To Remember. Though in this case, I think in Love Bunglers the “random” misery is not all that random. Jaime could have just thrown Ray into a car accident or something, but instead not only is the injury a result of his own good nature (he’s trying to help), but also so directly connected to Maggie and her history.

  7. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I’ve seen plenty of 1950s melodrama and I don’t know how “An Affair To Remember” relates to what Jaime did at all except via the most surface-oriented reading imaginable. It’s like comparing the endings of “The Wild Bunch” and “Taps.”

    Also, your implication that that the emotional heavy-handedness of “An Affair To Remember” somehow duped people into taking it seriously via Oscar nominations is terribly misleading — it was nominated for craft awards like music and costumes. No one takes AFI lists seriously except for network television programmers with summer slots to fill and the ladies on The View.

  8. Jeet Heer says:

    Yeah, the comparison to “An Affair to Remember” seems off as well, in part because of the great tonal variety of Jaime’s work — there’s a lot of irony and humor in most of his stories including “The Love Bunglers”. But also because what keeps Ray and Maggie apart isn’t just some external deus ex machina but rather their own diffident, unsure, self-defeating personalities. The run-in with Calvin is merely one part of a much larger series of events that keep Ray and Maggie apart for many years, and the main cause of their separation is rooted in their personalities, which as Dan shows above are convincing in large part because of the visual nuance of Jaime’s art and also because of the way Jaime has been carefully following these characters for decades. And the run-in with Calvin is itself linked to the central character-forming events that have made it so hard for Maggie to form a connection. These linkages are the opposite of the black-and-white polorizations offered by melodrama: rather they are deeply organic and ironic. I should add that I do think there is a such a thing as good melodrama and some of those 1950s tearjerkers can be effective in their own right (as recent literary critics have argued, the knee-jerk dismissal of melodrama is often rooted in a masculinist aesthetic uncomfortable with art that deals with feminine themes), but in terms of tone and world-building complexity, they are worlds away from what Jaime is doing.

  9. NRH says:

    This is 100% what I wanted to say. But also Leo McCarey was one of the greatest of American directors, and several of his films are almost indisputable classics: “Duck Soup,” “Ruggles of Red Gap,” “The Awful Truth,” “Make Way for Tomorrow,” and “Love Affair,” which McCarey himself remade as “An Affair to Remember.” I think the more recent work of Jaime’s is greater than the (later) McCarey, but the comparison is nowhere near as unflattering as you suggest.

  10. DiamondDulius says:

    Good to see Jaime being recognized as the master cartoonist he truly is… he and Gilbert have been around for so long, producing great material, it’s easy to take them for granted.

  11. Great write-up on one of the great comics.

    Your allusion to your personal connection to reading L&R over the years is echoed by many people. I wonder though. if there is a way to share this amazing story with people who haven’t been living with Jaime’s characters for a period of time? There’s no question but that my own reaction is absolutely heightened by having been reading L&R from issue #1 on…it’s like wine deepening in the bottle. But can it be uncorked?

    Anyway, I would hope I can share that amazement at perfect storytelling with newer readers.

  12. patrick ford says:

    Jaime might be more widely recognized if he did more of what he doesn’t do, which is shows and promotion.

    Not to say Jaime and Gilbert are hermits, but as Dan alluded to they are busy working.

    Several times over the years I’ve thought it seems weird that Jaime and Gilbert did the BIG (Playboy style) TCJ interview decades ago and the time has been ripe for another long wide ranging conversation ever since. I’ve got all the interviews (TCJ 126,178, Greed #5, etc.) in a file with the rest of their stuff. To a greater extent than most cartoonists they let their work do the talking. There are people who are their contemporaries who have probably gotten more attention, based on real life melodrama.

  13. Rob Clough says:

    I actually think that the new format for Love & Rockets, a format that Los Bros. entered into reluctantly at best, has proven to be a career pick-me-up. It’s allowed them to pack more story punch into a single issue; instead of “The Love Bunglers” being stretched out over four or five issues, Jaime got a chance to put these high-impact stories into just two volumes–and they still worked perfectly as serials. #3′s focus on Calvin ended on a wow of an ending, and of course #4′s impact needs no further elucidation.

    While I do think Xaime’s comics have always had a element of melodrama to them, Jeet nails it square on the head that what kept Maggie & Ray apart was mostly each other. They simply couldn’t get out of each other’s way long to enough to actually accept themselves as a couple. In Maggie’s case (as we learned in “Browntown”), the root of that self-destructive behavior came as a result of the betrayal from her family. She was always waiting for the other shoe to drop and pushing people away as a result. Also, Jaime has always deliberately kept melodrama off-panel: Speedy’s death and Letty’s death before this issue are two good examples. The fact that he put all his cards on this table was shocking precisely because of those years and years of emotional restraint.

    I’ve been reading L&R for a long time, but not from the beginning. Stories like “Wig Wam Bam” still had a tremendous effect on me. I also don’t have an encyclodpedic memory of the series, and so I didn’t catch every nuance of “The Love Bunglers” in terms of callbacks to past issues. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Jaime does an amazing job setting up these characters as people who have obviously been in and out of each other’s life for a long time and paces the story with a relaxed assurance–until he throws the audience a curveball with the ending. The audience needed to see at least a brief depiction of Ray’s assault, not so much so that we could agonize for Ray (though that was part of it), but also because we could feel awful for Calvin, a character who had built up tremendous audience sympathy. To see him snap was every bit as devastating as seeing Ray nearly killed, and that precise LACK of randomness is what takes this out of mere melodrama or “emotional porn” and turns it into something amazing.

  14. Michael Grabowski says:

    This is probably the wrong place to ask, but was anyone else reminded of the similar montage in Cerebus #300 when reading p. 92 & 93 here? I think it’s done to similar effect, too, at least to me, although Sim’s subsequent yanking the rug conclusion negates that emotional connection temporarily reignited.

    It also reminded me of the two pages of face slaps at the end of L&R v.1 #50, a similarly powerful moment at that last great pause in the series.

  15. You are so right. This story is a flat-out, Jesus H masterpiece. Hit me like a ton o’ bricks. In fact the whole damn issue did. I was singing its praises before I even got to the last chapter of “Love Bunglers.” In fact several days passed between my reading of “Return for Me” and my finishing of the issue, and already I was convinced this was one of the finest L&R comics in years. When I finally got to the end of the issue (I was on a plane at the time), I could hardly contain myself. Daubing at the eyes and the whole nine yards. Cripes, what a great, great comic. Shatteringly good.

  16. Groth says:

    Couldn’t agree more!

  17. rubyvroom says:

    I just wanted to say that when I finished the issue I ran into the bedroom at 1am and woke up my significant other who doesn’t even read this comic because I just had to show it to somebody right away. I talked him through the whole issue and realized I needed to explain about 20 years worth of comics to fully convey how huge this was for me. What an achievement. I feel like the comics medium just got its Citizen Kane and for the most part it doesn’t even know it.

  18. I don’t know, Derik. If you think of this as a potential end to one long narrative, a crazy brother was introduced to smash Ray in the head, just to give a little extra dramatic charge to a gimmicky “they were always meant to be together.” This works against the fairly realistic tone of Maggie and Ray’s relationship that had developed. It was a way of giving the fans what they wanted (which is a sign of diversionary entertainment) while still keeping it “artistic.”

  19. “But the Magnificent Seven was about cowboys!” I guess we’ll agree to disagree on how superficial sharing plot structure is, Tom. To me, I’d say it’s best to wait a bit before claiming Love Bunglers the greatest comic of all time. It doesn’t do much more than An Affair to Remember in the present, but that might change as Jaime fills in the details later.

  20. My problem is with the artificial romanticism of Maggie and Ray’s getting together (it’s fate), which violates the tone that Jaime had set up. No matter how well rendered, it was shoddy in terms of narrative (and, I’m speaking of this as an end, not what it might become down the road). If the greatest comic of all time is pretty damn close to a not particularly good melodrama, that doesn’t speak well of the comics canon.

    And I quite like melodrama, which I don’t believe is inherently feminine (it’s an ironic feminist critique that says masculinity rejects the genre because of the stereotypically feminine traits). I wouldn’t even agree that melodrama has to be black and white, but the problem with Love Bungler’s conclusion is that it is too pat, too simplistic. It was mediocre melodrama.

    (P.S., I’m not as big of a fan, but NRH is right about McCarey.)

  21. Tom Spurgeon says:

    We’re not disagreeing on the superficiality of sharing plot structure. I’m suggesting that the only way one can assert those two works share plot structure is through a willfully superficial — or perhaps hopelessly dim — reading of Jaime’s work in this story. I think the differences matter far more than the similarities, and that there are many more of them, and that the work is overwhelmingly more accurately characterized by those differences.

    I do lack the special and oddly certain insights you seem to have as to exactly why Jaime makes certain choices, though, so maybe I’m wrong.

  22. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Now that you make me think of it, though, I think we’d disagree on the superficiality of sharing plot structure, too. I think it’s an odd thing to latch onto, and an odder thing to make the focus of an overall criticism of a piece that offers so much more. Heck, for all I know Jaime was riffing on 1950s melodrama directly, in much the same way his kids sort of recall kids as drawn in the Dennis the Menace comic books. But to dismiss all of Jaime’s comics about kids for that reason, or simply making that reason the anchor point in a broader critical put-down, that would seem weird to me, too.

    One clue is that I think people would define Affair To Remember — and have — in the terms you use, but you’re the only one so far I’ve read that chose to describe Jaime’s story that way. Despite your choice to recount the plot in lengthy detail, just about everyone with a bit of cultural awareness knows that basic plot. And Dan in his essay at the top of this discussion openly admits to certain elements of romance in certain Jaime plot constructions. It’s just that with Jaime’s story it’s not a great fit AND there’s so much more to it, so much more that’s really good.

  23. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Okay, I give up. If you read “Love Bunglers” and see the ending as their getting together is some easily contrived “it’s fate” as opposed to their getting together in large part because Maggie made a life-defining choice (clue: she really didn’t wait for him), I’m guessing we’re reading entirely different comics. Your version of “Love Bunglers” makes it sound like she ended up with Casey.

  24. DerikB says:

    You’re reading that “always meant to be together” into the story. Just because they end up together doesn’t mean it was fate or “meant to be”. We don’t even know if it lasts beyond the last scene in the book. Hasn’t Jaime already overturned one “meant to be together” with the ongoing changes in Maggie and Hopey’s relationship?

    And just because Calvin was only recently introduced as a character (but… wasn’t he mentioned earlier in the series, I feel like that was the case), doesn’t make it somehow invalid as a narrative tool. It’s certainly not something new to the Locas stories. There has been a consistent use of unearthed histories throughout the series. That’s how the series works (and one of the elements of it I really like, it’s not all linearly moving forward).

  25. patrick ford says:

    Well, as we know in real life people never get together. I mean it just is SO corny.

  26. Jeet Heer says:

    @Charles Reese: Like other people, I have a hard time understanding how you can read “The Love Bunglers” and conclude that the message is “they were always meant to be together.” Look at the title: “The Love Bunglers” Maggie and Ray are bunglers because of their personality traits which keep them apart and make it difficult for them to form long term relationships (not a new theme by the way, but consistent with how Jaime has portrayed them all along). The fact that they get together in the end doesn’t mean “they were always meant to be together” but rather that even bunglers can over come the self-defeating aspects of their personalities. Take a look at page 1 of the current issue (page 1 of chapter 3 of The Love Bunglers) where the narrative voice says “I tell you I love you and you smile and those are the last words we speak for the night. There was a time in our marriage when I didn’t love you. I didn’t hate you but the love was no longer there. With time I learned to love you again and I still do. I never told you I didn’t love you and I don’t think I ever will.” That’s the way love is in Jaime’s universe (as seen in the ups and downs of Maggie, Hopey, Ray and other characters): love isn’t fate or inevitable destiny or a deus ex machina but rather the affection that draws people together, an affection that ebbs and flows over time (sometimes to our distress) but also gets its power from duration, from being rooted in long-standing ties.

    To further DerikB’s point about Calvin — he was alluded to long ago and the dysfunction of Maggie’s family has been a long standing theme. So again, what is impressive is how the new developments organically fold into the older material.

  27. Kim Thompson says:

    Charles, your complaint would make sense in the case of, say, a movie or novel in which a disease, death, or violent incident is brought in toward the end of what is otherwise a light, sappy narrative to give it unearned weight, but surely there has been enough violence and tragedy in the ongoing LOCAS story that this is not the case here. And the idea that it would somehow be better if Jaime had narratively “imbedded” the Calvin character in earlier issues so he didn’t come “out of left field” seems absurd on the face of it to me.

    And amen to Derik and Jeet on the “they were always meant to be together” thing.

  28. Hello all,

    Jeet mentions the title and gives a quote. I think the quote possesses the tonal realism that’s been part of the ongoing relationship between Maggie and Ray — no disagreement there. The title, however, works just as well with what I think is introduced later on, destiny. Love is the narrative goal, and they’ve bungled it aplenty, but they still get there any way. Where did I get this idea? Well, as I was alluding to above, on p. 89., after a phone call that only implies what Maggie and Ray are really wanting to say, they both “coincidentally” decide to go to each other, which Jaime structures in parallel panels pointing each at his or her desired object, as if a magnet is pulling them together. Calvin interferes. This is the kind of destiny that’s often at work in romcoms and melodramas, where the difference is in what problem is thrown in to gum up the machinery to keep the lovers apart until the end. And, while I agree with Kim that there’s been plenty of tragedy etc. in the book, it just seems to me that the violence was included here to not make the love story seem as sappy as it would’ve similarly been in a romcom or whatnot, so happy ending isn’t so pat … only it is. Regarding Derik’s point that we don’t know that this is the end, I’ll say again that I’m only reading this as if it’s an ending. I might completely shift my viewpoint down the road as Jaime fills in the lacunae, possibly turning the final panels (p. 100) with Maggie’s, “of course I waited for you … I love you” and romantic kiss into a bit of self-deception and desperation. The hyperbole, though, is about the ending as it exists now. Finally, as further evidence for my reading, Jaime provides another parallel sequence (p. 92-3) tracing the lives of the characters as they were looking at each other. The love has always been there, drawing them together despite their bungling.

  29. Tom,

    See my comment above, but as to the waiting, couldn’t her statement be about her emotions rather than the one lame date we see her on? No one connected her until she re-entered Ray’s life. All this is open for further development, though.

  30. “connected to her”

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  32. DanielJMata says:

    The only fate nonsense I can compare (in regarding serial romance with years in the making) this to is when in For Better or For Worse Elizabeth hooked up with her high school flame, that wet blanket Anthony. That came out of NOWHERE AT ALL. No build up, no popping in and out of each other’s live, no slow burn. Nothing that this story has to give it impact: history and growth between the characters. And the panel orchestration is superb, not mushy. This comic/life’s work is one of the best.

  33. Andrew Mansell says:

    Dan–once the smoke thins– after a story like the Love Bunglers, it should never truly clear!–can you please list the four other books in your top Five? Pretty please

  34. Lito s. says:

    this story was definitely a classic along with “The death of speedy” i read it in a cafe and felt myself tearing up as i thought “oh f–k no, he isn’t going to… he can’t be…not Ray!” just wow.

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  37. steven samuels says:

    “If the greatest comic of all time is pretty damn close to a not particularly good melodrama, that doesn’t speak well of the comics canon.”

    After finally having read the book, I’m in agreement with Charles. This volume’s near-universal praise has been over-the-top and speaks more of herd mentality than any artistic merit that the book may-or-may not have. Given how much heavy breathing there’s been at some point in time some people will no doubt pull back and give a more measured appraisal. As always, something that’d be readily apparent to anyone who doesn’t have decades of investment in comics or at least this particular series.

    “While I do think Xaime’s comics have always had a element of melodrama to them, Jeet nails it square on the head that what kept Maggie & Ray apart was mostly each other”

    “These linkages are the opposite of the black-and-white polorizations offered by melodrama: rather they are deeply organic and ironic.”

    “Also, Jaime has always deliberately kept melodrama off-panel”

    This is absolutely not true. Jaime’s comics have had much more than an element of melodrama to them. Melodrama is one of the central characteristics of the book, as with any open-ended series. In the late-80s it was the drawn-out “will-she-or-won’t-she get back with Hopey or Ray” storyline. A decade later it was Maggie’s “secret marriage.” For this book one of the threads was Reno & Vivian’s love for Maggie, because don’t you know Maggie is so special that everyone just falls in love with her. As readers we’re supposed to take that at face value even though there isn’t any apparent reason that the characters should be acting that way. In the end it feels more like artifice than something naturally coming from the characters.

    I haven’t seen “An Affair to Remember,” but Charles’ comparison seems fairly apt in regards to the plot. The difference being that JH doesn’t indulge in the sweeping textures of those kinds of movies. It’s scaled-down, not “black and white polarization” but gray-shaded melodrama nonetheless.

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