by Jaime Hernandez. Fantagraphics, 2019. 92 p. ill. ISBN 9781683961826 (hardcover), $19.99.

Reviewed June 2020
Dai Newman, Cataloguing and Instruction Librarian, Columbus College of Art and Design,

is this how you see me book cover

Hernandez collects a story arc about middle-aged punks from his collaborative comic series Love and Rockets in this evocative exploration of regret, nostalgia, and lingering attachment to teenage subculture. Maggie and Hopey, middle-aged friends and erstwhile lovers, join up to attend a punk reunion in their old stomping grounds of Heurta, California. Over the course of the weekend, they rehash their rocky past together and have a brief falling out that threatens to end the trip prematurely. Their reconnection with other old timers at the concert roils memories captured in fragmented flashbacks to the early days of their friendship in the late 1970s, where shy Maggie pined for the audacious Hopey.

Moments of humor, especially the clash between their current worries and older bodies and their attempts to relive their glory days, erupt between the more angsty, fraught realizations that they cannot return to how things once were. Hopey’s butch presentation/lesbian relationship and Maggie’s more feminine style/heterosexual pairing (two signifcantly queer aspects of their relation), coupled with the blurring between attraction and platonic friendship, are particularly central to the narrative.

Hernandez’s minimalist style uses solid black and cross-hatching for clean, easily readable images. His cartoon-like simplicity lends a grace and dynamic movement to his characters. The tight, faintly italic lettering adds urgency and a sense of intimacy to his scenes. Most panels are cropped relatively close to faces, highlighting his skill at telegraphing emotions while the simple, almost always abstracted to geometric pattern, backgrounds have just enough detail to provide setting. Though a special treat for long-time readers of Love and Rockets, the work will still appeal to newcomers. Hernandez’s extension of the popular series combined with the raw emotional impact make this a solid addition to all popular and scholarly collections serving adults.