For the past 24 years, the work of Jaime Hernandez has been a source of comfort for me. As a chunky Chicana punk-rocker in the primarily Mexican town of Salinas, I found it very easy to identify with Maggie and the Hoppers neighborhood that was home to so many of his characters. Looking back, it was a life saver to have found the Love and Rockets comic as it helped me to not feel so alone.
In real life, my first two years school was spent at a primarily white high school. I was too Mexican to be accepted by the white alternative crowd at school, but not Mexican enough to be embraced by the cholas. Being exposed to Love and Rockets was a huge sigh of relief for me, and along with transferring to a more integrated high school, I had finally felt that I had a place in this world.
As luck would have it I always seemed to miss events where Jaime would be, like the time he came to a local comic shop in Salinas after I had just moved out of state. So how could I pass up the chance to go to MACLA’s “Novelas, Love and Other Adventures” exhibit where Jaime would be speaking on opening night?
It was enough to know that he would be speaking that night, but it was a sweet surprise to see the original work for his “Death of Speedy” story. My absolute favorite panel was on display and I leaned in to see the details of his pen strokes that filled in the black space he is so famous for.
I always feel a bit awkward meeting people who have influenced me and played such a big part of my life because, although they have been with me for so long, they have no idea who I am. What a strange situation. But nonetheless, I was ecstatic to finally meet Jaime Hernandez.
I was scared actually. What if he was a huge jerk? What if he was pretentious or rude? I would feel like Dorothy meeting the Wizard of Oz for the first time. So excited to meet this wonderful man after a long journey, just to find out he was a prick.
But this wasn’t the case at all. Jaime is so approachable and friendly.
There was a lot of noise in the gallery, but he continued to answer everyone’s questions with detail without asking for any accommodation. He also took the time to chat with me a bit before the lectures began. I was a babbling mess of course. How do you sum up 24 years of connection in less than 5 minutes?
It was blissful, and strangely enough, something I had jotted down on my “things to accomplish in 2011” list earlier this year. Guess I”m off to a good start.