Love and Rockets the First Fifty Columns 

2022 Year in Review: Best Reprinted Edition

By | December 15th, 2022
Posted in Columns | % Comments

Welcome to the Multiversity Year in Review for 2022! We’ve got over 25 categories to get through, so make sure you’re checking out all of the articles by using our 2022 Year in Review tag.

Not all of the best reading experiences involve floppies from your favorite local shop or vertically scrolling on an iPad. Sometimes, the best experiences are when publishers and creators get to present their stories in a more particular, customized form. These are three of the best reprints of 2022; we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

3. Doom Patrol by Rachel Pollack Omnibus

You guys, every time I see this book on my shelf, I light up. I’m so stoked that this collection exists.

Grant Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” was one of those monolithic books in my reading development. Weird and macabre, but somehow unabashedly queer and fun. Yet it always felt like a once-off in the team’s publishing history, that no one else had channeled the same specific weirdness. Then, my copy of Rachel Pollack’s Doom Patrol in glorious omnibus format arrived.

The stories in this book are not only a fantastic spiritual successor to Morrison’s work but an enhancement and further exploration of queer ideas and gender politics. For starters, Pollack, a trans woman herself, introduces one of the first trans superhero characters, Kate. On her own, she’s an effortlessly exciting creation, sporting a badge labeling her proudly as a Transgender Lesbian and having a delightfully workman-attitude to her superhero career. Even further, the response from trans readers to seeing this character printed in a wildly homophobic era was literally lifesaving to some: Pollack details more in her introduction to the omnibus, but nonetheless, it brought me close to tears.

There’s so much else in this run that is worth mentioning. Pollack’s push for more sex-positive characters and ideas is brought to life by bandage-wrapped sex ghosts who sport the bubbly charisma of an old-timey swinger couple. Her development of Niles’ daughter Dorothy deals with her relationship with her body and identity in ways that Morrison was barely able to. Pollack even predicts modern incel culture with her hilarious villain creation, the highly-insecure Codpiece.

On top of all this, there are so many excellent artists bringing this macabre but delightful absurdity to life. Richard Case, Linda Medley, and Scot Eaton are all present for the first half and give the book that nice and gritty 90s Vertigo spice. The real MVP here, however, is Ted McKeever, who does the majority of the run. McKeever’s work instantly brings an original and exciting quality to the book, with thick, scratchy linework, and fantastic figure drawing. All of this is filtered through an absurdist eye that channels pop art and Ralph Steadman and so many more, yet feels wholly original due to how it is implemented in sequential form.

This book deserves to be on your shelf not just as an important comics history artifact. It’s simply just great comics. I’m so glad that Rachel Pollack is getting the attention and credit she deserves for her work on this team presented in this book. – Rowan Grover

2. Mazebook

If you have been following my writing here for the last few years, you have probably realized that I am a total Jeff Lemire fanboy. I love pretty much everything he has put out, especially his creator owned works. When it comes to “Mazebook” I was wholly unprepared for how it would make me feel as I made my way through it as the five issues were released. It is an exemplary piece of fantasy fiction that highlights so many of Lemire’s strengths as a writer and spinner of emotionally shattering yarns. This is a heartbreaking tale of a broken man who has lost everything, most importantly his daughter, and as someone who recently became a father to a baby girl, the power and pain of this story hit me all the harder. That said, once I heard about the special limited release of a hardcover edition through Dark Horse Direct, I knew it was something I had to pre-order. And the final product ended up being so much more than I could have ever imagined.

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An over-sized, cloth wrapped hardcover release with metallic red gilded pages, a red satin ribbon bookmark, embroidered detail on entire cover and spine, foil stamped, hand-signed and numbered, and a sketchbook section of Lemire’s preliminary work as well as pin-ups by some of the best artists working today. It is everything one could hope for from a specially crafted reprint of a comic book miniseries. Limited to 1000 copies, the specifically chosen style of cover, quality of pages, and the other special details make this book feel like it has crossed through worlds to end up in your hands. It’s a rare look for a graphic novel reprint which only makes it all the more precious of a release for fans.

Nothing on the pages has been changed in terms of illustrations or coloring, but the new paper stock for this book does make the entire story look that much better. While this book has one of Lemire’s more muted palettes, the moments in which a single color, or certain linework pops in the regular issues, they are nearly all new details here. The feel of this cloth bound book in your hands as you allow its power and emotions wash over and through you is more than just your typical collected edition or omnibus. Sitting down to read this edition is truly a transformative experience. There are still some copies left and it retails for $100, so while that may seem steep for a reprint of a five-issue series, this is definitely a rare exception where such a price for is warranted, and I highly recommend it to any Lemire fan. – Chris Egan

1. Love and Rockets: The First Fifty: The Classic 40th Anniversary Collection

This might be Fantagraphics’ best work to date.

If you are new to comics, I present to you “Love and Rockets”, it is a comic book series done entirely by brothers Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (with some stories by Mario), its format has been the same for forty years, each brother tells a different story, mostly featuring two different worlds. Locas is the story of Maggie and Hopey, who live in Los Angeles, and Palomar focuses on the people of this town in South America. It is a magnum opus, one of the most important independent comics ever and a lovely representation of Latinx people, often invisible in mainstream publications, I would encourage you to watch PBS’ documentary on this title.

This year, I have been reading the books of Los Bros Hernandez (thanks to the Humble Bundle that came out earlier), I’m a little ashamed to say that I had never read it before, but now I’m devouring and loving these stories, they have literally changed my perception of what you can tell in comics, particularly the Palomar stories.

This is a relatively popular book, you can get collections and omnibuses of their stories, conveniently published as graphic novels, so, why is this reprint so special? Well, to celebrate 40 years of “Love and Rockets,” Fantagraphics put out a thing of wonders, this collection gathers the first fifty issues (the first volume) in facsimile, including ads and letter columns, to have the experience of the comic just like the first time. It also includes an extra volume with essays, reviews, and covers, rare comics and a ton more content.

This is an archival piece for research, it’s a library object, designed to preserve a part of the history not only of the title, but of the entire comics world. As a professional of the Publishing business, this book also fascinates me by its design, some people might be deceived to think that facsimiles are easy to do, “just scan and print the original” but, in reality, it’s a work of patience, dedication and love. I think that preserving an original work while also making accessible to the modern audiences is one of the most noble things to do in the business.

To be honest, this collection is expensive, $400, but I think that’s more than worth it, to have a piece of history so beautifully put together, this is perfect for every library that wants to have “Love and Rockets” for years to come. – Ramon Piña

//TAGS | 2022 Year in Review

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