Sunday, May 7, 2017

Homies by David Gonzales, Elliott Serrano

Rating: WARTY!

It's time to review some graphic novels again! This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I was not sure what I would get out of this, but I was interested to learn. I'd never read any of the original work from the 90's, and now I have no interest in looking it up. Neither have I ever been to LA, but I do live in an area steeped in Latin Culture (it seemed like half the workplace was taking the day last Friday for Cinco de Mayo!), yet this book turned out to be a disappointment because it felt more like it was steeped in stereotyping than ever it was in telling original ethnic stories. The most striking thing about this graphic novel though, was that you could have told these same stories, almost word for word, and veneered them with any culture, and it would have read the same and not seemed wrong or out of place.

There's the wedding ceremony where everything seems to be going wrong, and in the end it's the love between the couple that shores them up. So what's new? This story has been told a hundred, if not a thousand, times before. It doesn't matter if it's in the barrio or in the ghetto or in the relatively impoverished circumstances in which I grew up: it's the same story, and that might have worked had there been something here which rendered it peculiarly Hispanic or even original. But there wasn't.

The artwork was curiously angular and not all bad, but to me it was nothing especially striking either. A lot of it felt far too busy and messy but others may well disagree. Cat and Hair (Gata and Pelon - hardly outstanding character names!) are the ones who are marrying, but Pelon looks like he's one of King Charles the First's cavaliers with that hairstyle and goatee.

The thing which made the biggest impression on me though, was caused by the severe angularity of the art. The white highlights on his face were rectangular, and when I first saw them, I thought he'd been in a fight and these were those little "butterfly" adhesive strips that are typically used (in movies and TV shows, but not in real life, it seems!) to hold small cuts closed!

The second story was straight out of Rocky (the original Stallone movie) where the challenger steps up and beats the professional and gets his girl. The only thing missing was that she wasn't called Adrian. Again, nothing original here, only predictable, and again other than the references to Lucha libre, there was nothing particularly embedded in Hispanic culture. The next story was essentially an episode of Scooby Doo with a ghost under a bridge - or is it really a ghost? there was even a dog. The last story was taken from X-Files, and not even really about Hispanic culture - more about refugees.

So I have to say I was very disappointed. Maybe the original 90's editions had more to say, or were more controversial or had some truly original thinking behind them, but I got none of that from this edition, and I cannot recommend this comic book.