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THE EDUCATION OF HOPEY GLASS

By Jaime Hernandez
128 7.5x11-inch pages
b/w
2008 Fantagraphics Books
hardcover
$19.99

This must be my month for catching up on long-neglected graphic novels that have been lurking around here unread in the R&R Book Grotto for much too long. I’ve been an admirer of Jaime’s drawing style for as long as I’ve known about it — which means over 30 years — but have seldom perused one of his books. Ditto his brother Gilbert’s. But I chanced upon this one in the graphic novels section of the local library and, surrendering at last to a persistent temptation, glommed onto it.

The title is a little misleading: Hopey stories (under the continuing heading “Day by Day with Hopey”) take a little less than half the book; the remainder is devoted to Ray Dominguez’s mooning about his lost love,
VivianMaggie, while at the same time wondering if he’ll get lucky with Vivian “Frogmouth” Solis, an out-of-control stripper who spends a lot of time hanging around with local gangsters. (He finally does get lucky: she, in effect, rapes him.)

The only connection between the two sections is Maggie, once the paramour of both Hopey and Ray; she shows up in both stories, briefly.

The Hopey stories are all little slices of her life as she gets fitted for eyeglasses, tries to learn a new job, lusts after Gracie (her latest roomie) and the eyeglasses saleswoman. The Ray-Vivian section is a more unified narrative.

Jaime’s crisp pictures are enough to hold me even if the stories are a little frail in the usual fashion of slice-of-life tales. His treatment of Vivian’s hair in the accompanying excerpt is enough, by itself, to captivate me. And this kind of visual seduction happens on nearly every page.

As for the stories — to return to them for a nonce — they are not so much stories (sequences of events) as they are personality portraits of the characters. It’s their attitudes and how they react to situations that keep me reading. And that’s what slices of life are all about.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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