Maggie and Hopey Color Special (1997) #1

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Maggie and Hopey Color Special (or Maggie and Hopey Color Fun, per the cover, not the indicia) delivers exactly what the cover title promises—a fun Maggie and Hopey comic in color.

The comic’s not just the Maggie and Hopey feature either; creator Jaime Hernandez does three different strips, all of them showcasing the color, including one of his Peanuts but Hoppers riffs, which is excellent.

The main story has Hopey calling Maggie on a Sunday to come over and try to fix a car. Joey and his fiancée Janet are on their way to Vegas to get married, only the car won’t start. Maggie can’t get it started either, so they all go for a pool party at Norma Costigan’s; Norma is one of H.R. Costigan’s ex-wives. The party gets complicated when Joey runs into people he hasn’t seen since he’s grown up.

But it’s already all complicated because Hopey’s trying to woo Janet away from Joey, with Joey still mooning over Maggie but not ready to make a move (grown-up or not). Meanwhile, Maggie and Hopey’s relationship status still has a question mark hanging over it.

By the end, some of the relationships are resolved, and some aren’t, but everything’s wrapped up quite nicely. Jaime has a way of echoing throughout the story, not just with visuals or dialogue or plot details, but with mood. The backup strips, which Jaime intersperses throughout the issue, breaking the feature into chapters, help with the echoing.

The “backups” don’t relate to the main story, which is slice-of-life and looking back at younger days with adult eyes (Hopey bonds with Janet over childhood memories and then Joey’s seeing things as an adult for the first time). Instead, Jaime goes for colorful variety.

The Ray story (the kind of Peanuts strip) is the longest at four pages and the best. Ray goes over to his friend’s house and gets embarrassed by toddler-aged Maggie not wearing underwear, and then something odd but entirely normal for kids happens. It’s great cartooning. It also shows how well Jaime’s art, regardless of style, works with color.

Jaime sticks to thin lines and well-lighted settings for most of the comic, letting the color take over; though there are some great night scenes, he’s showcasing how color works on his art. But what it also shows is how much Jaime’s traditional black and white implies the color when it’s not there. Especially in the Ray story, set on the Schultz-y squiggly-lined lawns of childhood memories.

One of the backups is about a lonely superhero robot attempting to fill her day. Then the other is about a mid-century party girl who’s short in stature but long in personality. They’re both outstanding.

But the feature, of course, with its return of the Locas, is where it’s at. Jaime does a great done-in-one with accessories, and Color Special is very much a special comic. In color. It’s a rare delight.

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