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A historical fiction mini-series set in east Los Angeles, 1981

A Rake’s Progress is a series of eight paintings by 18th century English artist William Hogarth. This painting series shows the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift son and heir of a rich merchant who comes to London, wastes all his money on luxurious living, prostitution and gambling. As a consequence, he is imprisoned in the Fleet Prison and ultimately Bethlehem Hospital.

That unfortunate sequence of events might have been better than what happened to Hector Hernandez, second son of the Big Taco empire.

Using real life situations as a backdrop, this historical fiction mini-series from Wunderman Comics re-interpolates A Rake’s Progress into 1981 Los Angeles. Playing hot and heavy with the celebrity culture of the era, this tragic tale shows the overwhelming dangers of getting everything you wish for.

For mature audiences only.


ISSUE #1

Hector Hernandez is a ne’er-do-well to whom the worst possible thing happens: his dreams come true in 1980’s Los Angeles.
Scoundrel is based off of the infamous series of paintings, ‘A Rake’s Progress,’ by William Hogarth.

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Hector

THE RAKE

Name: Hector Thomas Hernandez
Occupation: Unemployed, former Vice President, Big Taco Ltd.
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 170 pounds
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown
Ethnicity: Latino (American citizen of Mexican descent)
Known relatives: Oscar Hernandez Jr. (older brother), Oscar Hernandez Sr. (father, deceased), Flor Hernandez (mother, deceased)
Education: Dropped out of sophomore year at USC
Place of birth: Pasadena, CA
Marital status: Single
Birth date: June 3, 1951

Brief personal history:

Born five years after his high-achieving brother Junior, Hector Hernandez never had a motivation to shine. Despite a natural athleticism, his focus was more on glory and the trappings of accomplishment without any of the work involved.

Hector met his lifelong best friend Gus in second grade, and was instrumental in getting Gus’ mother Guadalupe hired as part of the household staff so he could play with Gus more often. With Junior drawing most of the attention from their always-busy parents, Hector was able to avoid his father’s dry business meetings and his mother’s community activism and charity events by keeping a low profile and having Gus around to help him avoid getting caught.

Strings were pulled and both Hector and Gus were sent to the University of Southern California, courtesy of the Hernandez family, but even with Gus’ help, Hector was unable to maintain his grades and flunked out as a sophomore. Hector took two years to “find himself” — drinking and partying his way through Europe and the Spanish coast while Gus completed a business degree.

While in Europe, Hector grew fascinated with formula one racing and visited as many races as he could while traveling, noticing the various trucks serving food there. Gus asked if Hector thought Big Taco trucks at sporting events would be a good idea when Hector got back. Together they put together a pitch for the family to get involved in the Long Beach Grand Prix. The business plan was so well put together and Hector himself wore a suit and gave the presentation (after weeks of rehearsal with Gus) that his father approached pride in his youngest son for the first time, committing the company to a ten-year sponsorship bid and a racing team.

For a time, it seemed like Hector was inspired to achieve for the first time, training regularly for the race while Gus took on even more of Hector’s responsibility. Hector didn’t enter the first races co-sponsored by Big Taco in 1979 and 1980, instead soaking up the atmosphere, taking the opportunity to observe the drivers and their operations, taking notes for improving his own. His mother even dovetailed some of her charity work into the races, but no matter how many famous or rich people enjoyed the hospitality of “the little taco company out of East LA,” Hector’s efforts to become one of them met with failure.

In 1980, Hector felt he had the right car — a road tested Ferrari — and the right crew, as well as being in the best condition of his life. Accepting Gus’ wisdom, he buckled and let the team accept sponsorship from other companies, securing a cola of middling popularity, a tire company and a number of smaller businesses anxious to tie themselves to Big Taco, which was beginning an expansion into other states under Junior’s guidance. Hector even qualified for an inside starting position, which galvanized his will to win. Unfortunately, before the race could begin, unauthorized engine changes by the manufacturer were discovered and all drivers in Ferrari cars were penalized and moved down ten spots. Hector was deeply shaken by this turn of events, but remained focused on his goal.

On the day of the race, Hector was sober and focused, uncharacteristically taciturn. He thanked the crew before getting in and started the race with gusto. Unfortunately, despite some lucky turns and capitalizing on mistakes made by more experienced drivers, Hector couldn’t make up the distance and ended the race a lap behind the leader, coming in 11th place. Furious, Hector pulled into the pit area and hurled his helmet away, storming off. When Gus later found Hector, drinking sullenly in a downtown Long Beach bar, still in his uniform, Hector swore that ten places back meant he could have won. Gus realized that wasn’t exactly correct, but encouraged Hector to recognize how many professional racers he beat and suggested that they could race in other events, building experience. Hector glared at his friend so angrily that it scared Gus, who retreated to give Hector some space.

After a week, Hector turned back up at work as if nothing had happened. He vaguely accepted the congratulations of employees and handed Gus some paperwork as he entered: a list of drivers they could hire to race in other events around the country. The paperwork included a note in bold that only Hector would drive at Long Beach. Gus accepted this and got to work.

On New Year’s Eve 1980, Oscar Hernandez Sr. and his wife Flor were coming home from a charity gala off Mulholland on a rainy night when two street racers were coming the other way. Things didn’t go according to plan, and some of the worst fatalities ever recorded in the Mulholland racing scene passed the Hernandez taco empire, lock stock and barrel, to their two sons.

Gus

THE BEST FRIEND

Name: Gustavo Lopez
Occupation: Special Project Manager, Big Taco, Ltd.
Height: 5’4″
Weight: 162 pounds
Hair: Black
Eyes: Light brown
Ethnicity: Latino (American citizen of Guatemalan descent)
Known relatives: Guadalupe Lopez (mother), Arturo Lopez (father, deceased), Alma Lopez (wife)
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount
Aliases/nicknames: Gus
Skills/abilities: Gus has developed a great ability to see when a situation is about to go wrong. He’s enormously observant and has an excellent memory for numbers, places, faces and details.
Place of birth: Gardena, CA
Marital status: Married

Brief personal history:

Gus was born a year after his parents arrived illegally in the United States. His family’s hard-working attitude and piousness gained the favor of the archdiocese and Gus was able to test into a prestigious Catholic school where he met his “lifelong best friend” Hector Hernandez.

Ironically, Gus never liked Hector, but Hector was determined that Gus would be his sidekick and friend and Gus was too polite to contest this vision. When Gus was brought to the Hernandez home, he began to see that the situation might not be that bad, soon impressing their family with his manners and steadfastness. The family hoped Gus would be a good influence on Hector and when they found out Gus’ mother could fill a role in their household staff, Gus became the “unofficial” third Hernandez boy in the memories of all around him.

Growing up, Gus stayed focused on two things — doing the best he could in school and keeping Hector from getting killed or worse. Hector’s daredevil attitude vexed Gus’ attempts at stability, always leaving Gus to drag a grinning Hector out of some dramatic situation. Through his desire to abandon the unrepentant heir, Gus’ mother encouraged him to stand by his “friend,” and made note of the string of gifts that invariably followed some egregious adventure where Gus saved the day.

These situations started to shift in the boys’ teenaged years when girls would be happy to get to Hector through Gus. This unfortunately included Gus’ cousin Angelica, who went way too far with Hector during a visit when the boys were 15. The Hernandez family spent a lot of money to keep that under wraps and Hector momentarily mollified at new limits his parents placed on him, but just as happy when they forgot and he was able to return to his normal habits. Despite Gus’ desire to follow his spirituality, he decided that letting girls perform oral sex on him in exchange for access to Hector was their sin, not his. He wrestled with this, but his hormones normally overcame his morals.

Hector inevitably flunked out sophomore year at USC. Not wanting to waste the opportunity the Hernandez family gave him, Gus buckled down and graduated tenth in his class, maintaining his friendship with Hector through letters to various points in Europe where Hector tried to “find himself.”

When Hector got back, he fell into a high position at the family company and insisted that Gus become his right-hand man. Gus negotiated a better-than-market-rate salary and agreed. He ended up doing most of the work Hector was assigned to do, covering for his “friend” as he always had. He got an idea when Hector was talking about all the travel in Europe and got an idea to have taco trucks at the Long Beach Grand Prix. As Hector got excited about the driving, Gus organized all the logistics, from sponsorship paperwork to media coverage to permits and getting the trucks.

At the first races in 1979, Hector dove into the world of the racers while Gus shouldered all the responsibility. The response was overwhelming, and Gus had to spend extra to restock the trucks due to demand. Traffic at the Long Beach store shot up briefly afterwards and the elder Hernandez personally came by to thank Gus for watching over Hector and the big success, which included a sizeable raise.

Gus kept the Grand Prix as one of a number of responsibilities he handled in Hector’s name. During this time, Gus met Alma Bedoya, a bookkeeper who often had to help him resolve Hector’s reckless spending. They began dating after months of anxious flirting led her to tell him he could just ask her out. Gus hid the relationship from Hector as long as he could, letting her meet his own mother and the rest of the Hernandez family, worried that Hector would somehow ruin everything. Oscar Sr. assured him it was the right choice.

They married a month before the 1980 Grand Prix and Hector — intended to be a groomsman — missed the wedding after turning the Thursday Las Vegas bachelor party into a weekend bender. Gus and Alma had expected this and the spare bridesmaid switched into a normal dress, joining the crowd.

CatalinaP

THE SEDUCTRESS

Name: Catalina Hayes
Occupation: Prominent socialite, retired actress
Height: 5’5”
Weight: 130 pounds
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Hazel
Ethnicity/Nationality: Caucasian (American of Jewish/Italian descent)
Education: Hayes has an associate’s degree from Glendale Community College
Aliases/nicknames: Mrs. Hayes, The Haymaker
Place of birth: Brooklyn, NY
Marital status: Widowed
Birth date: May 29, 1942

Brief personal history:

Catalina Adler grew up in Brooklyn after the Second World War, sick and tired of the grime and the tedium. She went with her seamstress mother to deliver alterations to an actress in Times Square when she was nine, and the woman asked how they tolerated such a drab existence, saying that Times Square was like a candle compared to the glitz of the lights of Hollywood. That set Catalina’s path from that moment forward away from the snow and the ickiness of the east coast.

At age twenty, Catalina had saved enough to move into a studio apartment in Glendale, California, using her mother’s teachings to get a job at Paramount in the costuming department. Catalina found everything the actress said was true, and loved the Hollywood glitz and glamour.

She was taking a lunch break when big time produced Barrymore Hayes got lost on his way to a soundstage and literally fell at Catalina’s feet. Enamored by her long legs and flirtatious attitude, he found her supervisor and asked to have her transferred to the musical he was working on. After two days she was in the chorus line, after three they were making love and within six months she had fourth billing in his next film, a romantic comedy.

Catalina became the talk of Tinseltown, happier attending parties than being on set. Hayes married her exactly a year after they met and they had a whirlwind honeymoon in Fiji. Tragedy struck on the set of his biggest film ever, the war epic No Man’s Land, when a falling light rig struck Barrymore Hayes dead. Catalina was at the spa when she got the call and ran with the grieving widow routine while securing his assets.

Suddenly, the world changed. She was famous enough to get in any door but had no need to work. She supplied funding for several shrewdly chosen Hollywood smashes, never accepting more than a line producer credit, joining the PGA as well to bolster her access. That brought politicians knocking, which led to even better parties.

By 1979, she was idle and rich and enjoying a life of hedonism.