The Troublemakers

Comic book, 2009

Like a significant portion of Gilbert Hernandez’ non-Luba/Palomar work, I had a hard time getting into The Troublemakers. The characterization didn’t strike me as being very deep, the plot didn’t really seem to be about anything and Hernandez’ art style is very utilitarian. But mid-read I shifted the way I was looking at it. On the inside back cover flap, it says that The Troublemakers is in fact a movie starring Fritz, an actress character from Hernandez’ Palomar stories. So I pretended I was watching a strange old movie. Once I made this mental shift, I found it to be surprisingly enjoyable. It’s rambling, aimless nature is akin to any given older art film you might blindly rent at the local video store, like Two Lane Blacktop or Perrot Le Fou. The difference though, is that those movies stand on their own and don’t require any type of meta-framing on the part of the reader to enjoy. I think this is largely due to the fact that many of those types of films draw the viewer in by other means; gorgeous cinematography, hypnotic pacing, or heck, just the mere fact that they’re movies. But comics as an art form demand more active participation on the reader, and I have a hard time envisioning The Troublemakers being enjoyed by anyone not familiar enough with Hernandez’ body of work to understand all of the levels at work here. But I am one of those people, so, more for me I guess. 3

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