Of course, Jaime has been around since (comics) time immemorial; he and his brothers (more Gilbert than Mario) have been at this since the early 1980s. And arguably, Los Bros Hernandez's various Chicano storyscapes single-handedly kept Fantagraphics in business alive in the publication world. What's different is that Jaime has moved out of the Fantagraphics publishing frame and has succeeded Chris Ware's metafictional "Apartment Stories" in the new “Funny Pages” section. Beginning April 23, those expecting Ware's cross-sectioned domestic spaces, ironic witticisms, and connect-a-dot, zip-lines style opened to Jaime's solidly framed and colored, rather straightforward day-in-the-life tales of Maggie. After reconnecting with an old friend, Tse Tse, one thing leads to another and she ends up sojourning with another long lost friend, Rena, who lives in some Island Otherland; dialogue deficient, the audience is privy only to her impression, reflections, and subdued revelations.
This might be the moment that I could speculate about the politics of representation—that for all the lip-service paid to diversity in comic books, those like Jaime are still holding the proverbial leafblower. But I'd like to take a slightly different tack by considering what Jaime does in this ongoing series to engage and move readers. Long-time followers’ store-houses of Los Bros storyworlds add additional layers of meaning to La Maggie. At a first glance at part 1, for example, we already know that "Maggie" is a Chicana: Margarita Luisa Perlita Chascarrillo, from Hoppers, who now manages an apartment building (Capri) in the San Fernando Valley filled to the brim with a rag-tag gaggle of misfits; that although she's queer (and forever in love with the ever-slippery and non-monogamous Hopey), she was once straight and married; that before managing the residents of Capri, she made a living as a high-tech mechanic; that she's been in and out of depression and can be bitchy as well as sweet; that her story appears in black & white, and not full color. There are also Los Bros first-timers—readers who flipped a page of the Sunday magazine to find La Maggie standing there. These readers learn much of this character in a short space and period of time and probably even invest emotionally in the story and its outcome. I would like to focus briefly on two main elements: how the style and "double-narrator" (see my