The art of Jaime Hernandez…..
I got a wonderful little (actually BIG) surprise in the mailbox today. it’s Todd Hignite’s tome (and i do mean ‘tome’) on the art of Jaime Hernandez (published by abrams, the art book imprint). The full title is “The Art of Jaime Hernandez, the Secrets of Life and Death.” sorta sums it up nicely.
Todd Hignite is an old friend from out St. Louis way. He’s an former Mohawk punk turned art historian (degrees and everything!) who also publishes the wonderful little (actually BIG) magazine called “Comic Art”. It takes on his obsession with the history of and aesthetic theory in relationship to comic art. That’s a more eduacated way of saying he geeks out on comics. His magazine wins the coveted “Harvey” award over and over (that’s the Oscar of the comics world). So, he knows what he’s doing and it’s fully apparent in this book. It’s high time that somebody with some smarts tackled Hernandez’s output. It’s a really wonderful volume (buy it immediately!)
This rocket cover, which is reproduced in the book, is from way back in 1986. Kate Thompson was acting art director at this point in the Rocket’s history (it went through art directors like most folks go through socks). But, Kate took it upon herself to hire somebody “famous’ to do a cover. so, she got in touch with Jaime to do a cover for our “spring fun” issue. this the the resulting cover. Pretty great, eh?
But, there is a funnier story to this. You might note that one of the characters is singing “oi! oi! oi! oi! my Bulgarian baby… oi! oi! oi! oi! my Bulgarian doll…!!” When the rocket hit the streets of Seattle, everybody freaked out. that’s SUCH and inside joke/reference that we all thought that somebody must have tipped him off or something. It was hilarious and a BIG hit.
You see, those are the lyrics to a song that local Seattle psychedelic heroes “The Daily Flash” sang on tv when they appeared in a scene in “The Girl From Uncle” (which only survived two seasons). It was the ONLY place they ever performed it, too. It was THAT obscure. ‘The Flash’ were local heroes and the biggest psych band to emerge from Seattle. They were the dayglo hippie voice of Seattle and toured with big bands and even played the legendary Fillmore several times. they were OUR answer to the flower people.
Sure, Jimi Hendrix was a native, but he was a little kid and an r&b performer when he lived here. He became star when he left (a pattern that was the only way to success in the northwest for most of it’s history.) He didn’t come back until he was at the top of the pops. He didn’t much even like Seattle (i saw him play here in Seattle very near the end of his life. He spent a great deal of time bad mouthing growing up in Seattle.) Nope, it was “The Flash” who were our mindblowing beacon of hope.
So, anyway, here is that old punk dude who drew all those flyers and did “love and rockets’, that super hip comic, making a Seattle joke of that insider calibre. Everybody loved it to death. It was an extremely popular issue. Old timers still refer to it with awe and affection.
Of course, the best part of the joke is that it was a total accident. Jaime claims he had no idea it was a Seattle gag. He had seen that episode of girl from uncle recently and thought the song was stupid, but it was catchy enough to stick in his head. So, since it was running around in his brain, he added it to the comic. The rest is serendipity. Or perhaps it’s synchronicity?