by Jeet Heer
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I recently read some fairly depressing essays about the Hernandez Brothers, pieces that were so ill-informed that I despaired of “comics criticism” as a valid activity. To cheer myself up I went back to Todd Hignite’s The Art of Jaime Henandez: The Secrets of Life and Death. Beautifully designed by Jordon Crane, filled to the gill with original art and photographs, this has been justly celebrated as an art book. But I’m not sure that Hignite’s writing has received the praise it deserves.
Taken just by itself, Hignite’s text is a wonderfully compact monograph which manages to compress many insights into a small package. The book covers, among other things, Jaime’s family background, the influence of classic commercial comics on his art, his interactions with punk music and lowrider culture, the context of the direct market, and the evolution of Jaime’s art and storytelling.