Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Love and Rockets: The Covers edited by Eric Reynolds

You can't tell this from your side of the screen, but my reserves are running low and my scheduled posts are getting dangerously close to the current day. This is because I'm still not reading all that much these days - oh, sure, I'm probably reading more than 90% of Americans, but it's vastly less than the rate I read in my, um, teens through mid-forties, so it's still shocking and annoying to me.

Since I'm not going to start commuting any time soon, or change jobs to something that gives me vastly more free time and mental energy (or something where I'm reading for a living again), this is the new normal, and I'm just living with it.

But it does mean that, every so often, I find a way to momentarily fall into one of my tricky old Book-a-Day habits, and find something I can breeze through almost immediately and blather here about equally quickly.

Hence Love and Rockets: The Covers, a coffee-table book from 2013 that collected the magazine and collection covers from the first series of Love and Rockets, 1981-1995. Yes, there was nearly another twenty years of covers available at the time this book was assembled, but making every book is a complicated matter of cost and projected return, so I have to assume the hope was that a second and maybe even third volume were hoped for in time. They have not emerged.

I'm crediting it as being edited by Eric Reynolds, but it's much more the kind of "edited" you see from the guy in the publishing house (getting everything organized, dealing with printers, color-correction) than the kind of "edited" a book of prose would have (writing words, editing words, arranging words in a pleasing order). This is an art book: the words are few and limited to a single-page Editor's Note up front to introduce it and short notes from the artists on each of the covers in the back.

I see I've neglected so far to mention who those artists are: I hope you know that Love and Rockets is by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, occasionally also their brother Mario Hernandez, but, if you didn't, you do now. This book has a lot of Jaime, a lot of Gilbert, and three pieces by Mario in its 144 pages.

There are at least four covers in this book I consider iconic: #1, of course, #24, maybe even more so, and then the one-two punch of #31-32. That doesn't include the collections; from those I'd add at least Death of Speedy, maybe Flies on the Ceiling some days. Your list may be different: it may have a lot more Gilbert in it, for example.

But this is great art, presented well, in an excellent package. It's no substitute for the stories themselves, obviously: it's inherently a secondary, ancillary work. But it is great for what it is.

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