Webcomic Wednesday - “The Ghoul Man” by Jaime Hernandez
Even a minor work matters when it’s made by someone major. One half of the comics-making team known as Los Bros Hernandez, Jaime is best known for his long-running “Locas” saga in the pages of Love and Rockets, the series he shares with his brother Gilbert. That story started out sci-fi but grew into a grippingly realistic portrayal of a gaggle of friends and acquaintances with shared roots in Los Angeles’s Latino punk scene. Still, Jaime likes to flex his genre muscles from time to time, and “The Ghoul Man,” originally a limited-run minicomic now up on Jordan Crane’s webcomics portal What Things Do, demonstrates why that’s worth doing.
The spitting image of Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera, the titular ghoul arises and shambles around town looking for flesh to devour, only to be put off the chase by a series of encounters with other monsters — werewolves, mummies, a Frankenstein’s monster, and in the memorable diner encounter above, a vampire. When the ghoul first approaches her, we and he consider her just another potential victim. But her tear-streaked face indicates right off the bat that she’s got a story of her own, something that narcissists like the ghoul fail to take into consideration when dealing with other people. Sure enough, she’s in the diner for the same reason she is, and she’s got the power and the guts to scare him off and commandeer this chapter of his adventure for her own.
It’s great fun just to watch an artist at Jaime’s level draw a cast of characters straight out of a black-and-white B-movie — I mean, no one in comics uses big black swashes with as much graphic impact or storytelling clarity; just look at how the blacks in the sequence above move your eye around the page. But he’s doing it in service of saying something, too, and that’s the kind of treat worth browsing around for.