Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings by Jaime Hernandez 1980-2020

Queen of the Ring Wrestling Drawings by Jaime Hernandez 1980 2020 cover

For the past 40 years, acclaimed graphic novelist Jaime 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.

As Hernandez puts it, “It’s my Love and Rockets world that’s not my Love and Rockets world.” This best-of book spotlights the women who are often ignored in pro wrestling in 125 full color illustrations: pin-ups, action shots, fake wrestling magazine covers, all presented in a deluxe paperback that echoes the lucha libre magazines of the 1960s. Hernandez also discusses the work in an interview with fellow cartoonist Katie Skelly.

Despite having created one of the most expansive and remarkable casts of characters of any cartoonist who ever lived (under the umbrella of the ongoing L&R comic book series), acclaimed graphic novelist Jaime Hernandez — Will Eisner Hall of Famer; Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz, and PEN Award winner; L.A. Times Book Prize winner; and on a very short list of contenders for the title of America’s Greatest Living Cartoonist — has been privately amassing a body of work that no one else has ever seen for over 40 years. Until now.

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A collection of female wrestlers drawn by Jaime Hernandez over the last four decades, carefully crafted around the artist’s responses from an interview. Cleverly designed to offer a flowing narrative of the artist’s love for early women’s wrestling, a nostalgic anchor point in his development as an artist.

This slim hardcover delves into Jaime’s love of 1960s and ’70s women wrestlers and their wrestling. What struck me the most was his use of the same figure: it’s the same body over and over, right down to the one or two lines to show the knee. He changes the hairstyle and colour, as well as the leotard colours, but otherwise, he’s focused on the facial expressions and actions.

The book moves from early drawings to mock wrestling magazine covers and then to ring action. Those dynamic wrestling illustrations of two or more women snarling, grimacing and performing steal the show, and the inked illustrations capture this essence perfectly. On my second read the earliest illustrations, before Jaime had established his drawing style, have a form and flow that immediately draw the viewer in. Even his colour choices are muted and enhance his crosshatching.

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It’s the text that elevates this from a sketchbook. Skelly states in her introduction it’s all from an interview with Jaime in December 2020, yet they only present the artist’s answers, specific pieces that create a narrative amongst the illustrations.

You’re here at the Artist’s Edition Index for original art, and this book is completely composed of scans of Jaime’s original art. Based on the presentation I would guess very few of the images are full size. All the images are crisp and without issue. No correction fluid or margins. He says he only used a pencil, black marker, and coloured pencils, with pen for the early pieces. This is a wonderful look into an artist’s private work.

If I had my druthers every piece of art would be full-page, especially since we’re teased with a two-page spread at the end, but Jacob Covey does a great job designing and producing this work. The interview text as cut and paste works so well with the overall notebook/sketchbook design.

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It’s a hardcover, despite the publisher’s blurb saying paperback. An excellent addition to the library of Jaime Hernandez works and a must for fans who would like to see something a little different, in colour.



Queen of the Ring HC

from Things From Another World