Take a journey through women’s wrestling through the eyes of acclaimed graphic novelist/Love and Rockets co-creator Jaime Hernandez in Queen of the Ring. For the past 40 years, Hernandez has been creating a Love and Rockets-adjacent world — set in the heyday of 1960s and ’70s women’s wrestling and lucha libre! — with an entirely separate cast of characters who have aged and evolved: the beautiful and brutal Bettie Rey, the I.F.W. Pacific Women’s Champion — a.k.a. Golden Girl — as well as former champions Pantera Negra, Miss Kitty Perez, and many more.
Every Love and Rockets reader knows that Hernandez is a huge fan of women’s wrestling and it was a huge part of his life growing up. Women’s wrestling has seen a resurgence of mainstream popularity in recent years, but many modern fans are unaware of the wrestlers of the past that were paving the path for today’s generation. Hernandez has been weaving women’s wrestling into Love and Rockets since its inception as a way to pay tribute to the heroes of his youth. Queen of the Ring takes this further with a collection of private drawings that have never been seen previously. Many of these are in the style of photos and features that would be found in old lucha-libre magazines. These include action shots, profile pieces and pin-ups and fake covers featuring the headlines and quotes you’d expect from wrestling mags along with plenty of wrestling sequences.
The wrestling medium has always lent itself to the comic book format with the larger-than-life characters, action and dramatic storylines. Whilst these are obviously fictional wrestlers that are part of Love and Rockets lore, there is an authenticity when you read this collection that makes you feel like you are experiencing the ‘60s/’70s wrestling fandom. Different aspects of the business are delved into too such as title lineages, event results, examinations of the wrestlers’ journey through the US territories and companies across the world. These not only act a great companion to the main Love and Rockets series, but are also a perfect snapshot of what it was like to be a wrestling fan in the heyday of women’s wrestling. In addition, the book also includes an interview with Hernandez by editor and fellow cartoonist Katie Skelly which explores Hernadez’s fandom and how the book was put together.
Fans of Love and Rockets will definitely want this to complete their collection. Plus many old-school wrestling fans will get a kick out this fun tribute to the pre-internet days of wrestling fandom.
Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings by Jaime Hernandez 1980–2020 is out now from Fantagraphics (9781683964452, h/b, £20.99)
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