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‘Love and Rockets: The First Fifty: The Classic 40th Anniversary Collection’ HC (review)

Written and Illustrated by
Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez
Published by Fantagaphics Books


There are a lot of ways to read Love and Rockets after forty years.

The seminal and celebrated independent comic from Los Bros Hernandez—Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario—began in 1982 and ran for fifteen years in a quarterly, magazine style format published by Fantagraphics.

Taking a hiatus with issue 50 in 1996, Los Bros returned to the book in 2001 and have published almost continuously since.

The work has been collected and reprinted over the years in more than fifty trade editions and omnibuses.

These collections have brought together Gilbert’s “Palomar” stories and Jaime’s “Locas” stories individually rather than in the mixed, serialized form in which they first appeared in the L&R comics.

Love and Rockets: The First Fifty—The Classic 40th Anniversary Collection marks the first time that the series has been collected in chronological order. This eight-volume hardcover edition features the first fifty issues of the comics as they were published, complete with editorials, reader letters, and advertisements. This set clocks in at 2200 pages and 27.5 pounds.

The massive collection provides a uniquely rewarding experience for fans and newcomers alike. The artwork, rendered in its original proportions, is as eye-popping from the first page as it was when Los Bros self-published their first issue in 1981.

Jumping on at the very beginning allows the reader the see the Hernandez Brothers evolve together as artists in real time. What seems at first glance to be a collection of random strips influenced by superhero comics, the funny pages, B-movies, and Latin American magical realism quickly transforms into something much more ambitious and unlike anything in comics at that time.

Celebrated now for their portrayals of women and the Latinx and LGBTQ communities, Jaime and Gilbert launch in issue 2 the individual serialized storylines which would become the twin pillars of the series, each a rich, fully formed world with characters that would grow and evolve in real time.

The inclusion of all the material from these issues enriches the experience.

Editorials from Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth, letters from fans and comics pros, and even advertisements provide an interesting window into the development of the series as well as the state of the comics industry and America throughout the 1980s and ‘90s.

Further enhancing this Love and Rockets collection is an entire 278-page volume of supplemental material ranging from interviews to essays to reviews in both industry and mainstream press. Also included is a gorgeous, full color gallery of covers and assorted work from Mario, Gilbert, and Jaime.

A collection of this scale comes with a comparable price tag. At $400.00, these eight volumes might not fit the budget of casual collectors. But for readers looking to immerse themselves in one of the most textured and rewarding series in comics or latecomers wanting to experience the work as it originally appeared, Love and Rockets: The First Fifty is a world waiting to be explored.




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