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Love And Rockets: The Covers
posted September 4, 2013
 

imageCreators: Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Mario Hernandez
Publishing Information: Fantagraphics, hardcover, 144 pages, 2013, $35.
Ordering Numbers: 9781606995983 (ISBN13)

I don't have a ton to say about this hardcover collection of the initial run of Love and Rockets covers, but I keep picking it up to read while a soccer match is on, or while I'm waiting for dinner to finish cooking, so I wanted to consider it a bit directly if only for a few words. As you might expect, Love And Rockets: The Covers is very attractive, very well-put together, and the fact that the production values on display flatter the work inside gives you an idea of just how far ahead of the curve the Hernandez Brothers could work at times. This isn't just a case of that one, amazing, shot-across-the-bow-of-comics first issue cover; this is a record of sustained excellence. One of the harder-to-track varieties of influence is the kind that becomes ubiquitous -- you stop noticing the new material as distinctive in the way it has a provenance, and you begin to suspect that there are multiple parents in terms of where we end up. That said, I'm glad that Jaime and Gilbert make the case for themselves directly at times, even in throwaway sentences, for regularly doing posed covers very early on and also abstract ones and even trotting out styles they couldn't find a place for elsewhere. Almost all of the work in different approaches or that show something other than some sort of action or a high, emotional moment is great looking because of the skill of the artists involved, but it also gave the magazine from which they came a personal stamp and playfulness that gets ground from a lot of publications pestle-and-mortar style. Love And Rockets: The Covers is a far livelier book than you might expect from a coffee-table ready hardcover. When you throw in the practicalities of the work on display, how for instance, Jaime in particular might make room for a logo or how Gilbert might pull in the eye only to stop it and then drag it from one corner of the image to the other, you get another window -- a big, splashy, pretty window -- into the mix of audacity and craft that is the building blocks of these artists' overall legacy.

A lot of these covers are just lovely images, too. That period when Jaime began to match Gilbert's storytelling ambition in terms of longer, interlocking narratives more regularly in the pages of L&R was one of the great thrills of modern comics, and the covers from the magazine's issues in the teens and twenties seem to lock in in similar fashion. I could look at some of them all day, and will return to my favorites as soon as I type this sentence's period and hit "update."