Next up In The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide we have the long-awaited complete collection of Gilbert Hernandez’s graphic novel, Maria M. The first half of this was originally published over five years ago, with the sequel scheduled for the following year. However, the second half never did get published, and a couple of months ago Fantagraphics finally published this complete collection, which reprints the first half, along with the never-published conclusion.

This is the perfect gift for any fan of intelligent comics and Love & Rockets.

Maria M. (Vol. 1 & 2) (Love and Rockets)
by Gilbert Hernandez
ISBN-13: 978-1683960164

This is the fourth in Gilbert Hernandez’ series of graphic novel “adaptations” of the fictional B-movies in which his character Rosabella “Fritz” Martinez stars in stories published in Love and Rockets. Maria M. is a departure in that it’s supposed to be an adaptation of a movie that, in Love and Rockets, was based on a “true” story that was presented in the classic Poison River storyline.

Maria M. is the story of the character who was the mother of Fritz, who then starred in the movie of her mother’s life, and that movie is adapted here. What makes this work so well is that the “movie,” though based on a “true” story, is a sensationalized, exploitation “B” movie that gets many details “wrong,” so it’s not like you’re reading the same story that was portrayed in Poison River.

Anybody order a big plate of meta? Let’s see what the publisher says:

This brutal, original crime thriller graphic novel, from the co-creator of Love and Rockets, tells the story of femme fatale Maria M.

Maria M.’s is a sordid tale of sex, drugs, violence, and power. When she comes to America for a better life, she marries a drug kingpin, whose son learns Maria’s darkest secret, leading to the most violent gangland bloodbath in organized crime history. Maria M. collects 2013’s Book One (now out of print), and the never-before-published Book Two, presenting the complete graphic novel for the first time. Longtime readers of Hernandez’s books will recognize a metatwist worthy of Maria M.’s pulpy pages: Maria M. doubles as a “biopic” of the mother of Hernandez’s most beloved character: Luba from Love and Rockets! Black & white illustrations throughout.

A fine gift for any fans of crime, noir, great graphic novels or the previous works of Gilbert. Maria M. can be ordered from any bookseller, the publisher, Fantagraphics, or Amazon. This is not a comic book for children. Maria M. is essentially a sexploitation movie in graphic novel form. There’s nudity and violence and language, and the lead character is exceptionally well-endowed, as you can see below.