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Gift Guide: Tonta (A Love & Rockets Graphic Novel)

Tonta [A Love & Rockets Graphic Novel]
by Jaime Hernandez
Fantagraphics
978-1-68396-205-2
$19.99 (less at Amazon)

The latest hardback collection from Jamie Hernandez is a fun compilation of previously-published short stories starring Tonta, a minor character from his expansive “Locas” universe in Love ^ Rockets.

Tonta (Spanish for “Stupid,” a name given to her by her mother), is a high-school girl with a family made up of a distant mother and a large collection of half and step-siblings. She’s brash and reckless and oblivious to some of the more sinister things happening in her life.

This story is set in a modern corner of the “Locas” world. Maggie shows up in one panel, and Tonta’s half-sister, Vivian, has been featured in other stories before, but Tonta is notable for being the first major work starring characters who are not around the same age as Hernandez. After depicting characters that were roughly his own age (and aged in real time over the last forty years), this is a bit of a departure and shows that Jaime is still a master storyteller even when his characters are from another generation.

You don’t need to be familiar with the Love & Rockets canon to enjoy Tonta, and that makes it a great entry-level story for comics fans who haven’t been exposed to to the work of Los Bros. Hernandez before. This is a brisk read, still with the complex plotlines and realistic dialogue that fans of Love & Rockets are used to.

Let’s check the publisher’s description:

Summer’s here, and all Tonta wants to do is go swimming, hop on her skateboard, get drunk, and listen to her favorite punk band, Ooot. But her idyllic weekend is disrupted by a botched burglary that forces her to confront her dysfunctional family history. Through it all, from Tonta’s teenaged angst to her half sister Vivian’s drama to the thrills and chaos of an underground lucha libre match, Tonta showcases Hernandez’s brilliant characterization, storytelling, and mastery of the form.

A standalone graphic novel that shines a light on the family tree of one of Hernandez’s most memorable characters of the past several years, the teenager Tonta.

In this graphic novel, teenager Tonta is staying for the weekend with her half-sister, the self-absorbed Vivian. At home, Tonta’s stepfather is shot during a botched burglary, which leads to the discovery of family secrets that require Tonta to confront some unpleasant truths that she previously managed to suppress or remain ignorant of. Through it all, Tonta showcases Hernandez’s brilliant talent for character, weaving a host of characters and milieus from his vast arsenal. Meanwhile, back at school, Tonta and Gomez discover that Coach Angel harbors a secret of her own (can you say, “lucha libre?”) while local punk band Ooot provides the soundtrack for a summer not soon to be forgotten. Black & white illustrations throughout.

Tonta is a great gift for fans of Love & Rockets, but is also perfect for the graphic novel newbie who hasn’t yet become a fan.You can probably order it from any comic book store or book store using the ISBN number, or use the links above.