7.9

Girl Crazy HC by Gilbert Hernandez Review

Comics Reviews Gilbert Hernandez
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<i>Girl Crazy</i> HC by Gilbert Hernandez Review

Writer & Artist: Gilbert Hernandez
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: January 6, 2016

Originally issued by Dark Horse in three floppies as part of an anthology, and later collected in an out-of-print paperback in 1997, this lark from Love and Rockets icon Gilbert Hernandez is now nicely reissued and properly bound between two hard covers. In some ways, there’s very little to Girl Crazy: three about-to-be-16-year-olds with grown up jobs (a slender IRS agent, a muscular bruiser and a brilliant attorney) team up to bust their friend Una out of a Tijuana prison. If you wanted to be ungenerous, you could say that—like anything else Beto does—it’s an excuse to draw a whole bunch of gorgeous ladies. And it is that. But it’s also the kind of sweetly gonzo entertainment that’s difficult to find and a lot of fun to read.

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Clearly, realism isn’t even a passing thought (it rarely is with Hernandez’s work). The genre crutch of time travel plays a central role. Kitten, the IRS agent, executes her job in a kind-of Robot Monster gorilla suit. Tijuana appears to be the location of the most secure prison on the continent. Why? Style, of course. Girl Crazy remains a wonderful stew of B-grade influences, from Jayne Mansfield movies to cheesy horror, Sputnik-era assumptions about the future, pin-up girls, mid-century superhero comics and all other manner of silliness.

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Girl Crazy Interior Art by Gilbert Hernandez

Hernandez has moved in darker, more adult directions lately, even as he’s spent some time on childhood nostalgia, and his art seems to have ebbed in an intentionally cruder direction in the process. His brother and Rockets partner, Jaime, makes even the ugly beautiful, while Gilbert has mirrored the themes of his stories in more forceful, less refined line work, stiffer poses and more brutish character design. Girl Crazy offers the opposite of all this. Does that make it less of a work of art? Not necessarily. It has things to say about body diversity (sort of) and being yourself, even if it’s the graphic novel equivalent of The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar.” Well-crafted pop still has a place.

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Girl Crazy Interior Art by Gilbert Hernandez

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Girl Crazy Interior Art by Gilbert Hernandez

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