Ghost of Hoppers

Writer(s): Jaime Hernandez
Artist(s): Jaime Hernandez
Publisher: Fantagraphics
ISBN: 978-1560977001
Price: $18.95
Page count: 120
Year Released: 2006
Status: in print
Original Source: Love and Rockets (vol. 2) 1-4, 6-10
Other Collected Edition(s): n/a
Genres: humor; magic realism; romance/relationships; short stories; slice of life
Recommended for Fans Of:
Possibly Objectionable Material: coarse language; nudity; sexual situations
If You Like This Book, Try:
Also in This Series: Preceded by Dicks and Deedees; followed by The Education of Hopey Glass

Plot Summary
The author's regular slice-of-life vignettes take a breather in this volume as Jaime creates another long-form story here in the vein of "The Death of Speedy" and "Wigwam Bam." Ghost of Hoppers begins with Izzy arriving in L.A. to stay with Maggie--now the superintendent of an apartment building in the Valley--for a few weeks, so you know right away that something unsettling is going to occur. Izzy has been invited onto Julie Wree's talk show to discuss her book, and this pisses off Hopey because Julie is one of Hopey's (many) childhood enemies. Hopey's ire is justified when Maggie escorts Izzy to the set and is treated poorly by Julie. But while she's there she meets Vivian, who works for the show as a kind of ring girl, skimpy bikini and all. The two women become friends and start spending time together, even though Maggie learns quickly that trouble follows Vivian around like a shadow. First Vivian is assaulted by Sid, her "boyfriend" who happens to be engaged to another woman (the same woman who cold-cocked Vivian with a beer mug in the bar where Hopey bartends and nearly put Hopey's eye out in the process). Then Vivian tries to take back a small statue she gave to Maggie, because it turns out she stole it from Sid's house while he was in France--but it appears that Izzy took the statue with her when she returned home. Despite all this, Maggie and Vivian start to become more than just friends. Meanwhile, Maggie begins seeing things that don't seem quite real, and it soon becomes clear that something followed Izzy to L.A. from Mrs. Galindo's old house. These experiences prompt within Maggie a conflicted reflection on her youth, and a nostalgic feeling of loss. Finally, when she and Vivian drive back to Hoppers to retrieve Sid's statue from Izzy, Maggie's unease turns to dread as the curse of Mrs. Galindo's house triggers the book's creepy climax.

My Own 2 Cents
The magic realism that suffuses the Love and Rockets series is employed here with startling efficiency. Jaime is a master of creating mood in his comics, and Ghost of Hoppers is one spooky book. Not since "Flies on the Ceiling" has his work been quite so atmospheric. Here, Izzy's nervous breakdowns and frantic sleepwalking episodes remind the reader that Izzy is not just the quirky, amusing character she's seemed to be in her last few appearances. If I were Maggie, just being around Izzy would cause me to start seeing things out of the corner of my eye, too. And as Izzy's stressful visit begins to wear on Maggie, her feelings of displacement and of growing apart from her past are entirely understandable and affecting. What adult hasn't felt this same way? Ghost of Hoppers is a genuine highlight in Jaime's consistently stellar run of books.