The PopCult Bookshelf

Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings by Jaime Hernandez 1980-2020
by Jaime Hernandez
edited by Katie Skelly
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1683964452

I have been a fan of Jaime Hernandez (and his brother, Gilbert) for well over 40 years. I first saw his spot illustrations in The Comics Journal, and I’ve been reading Love and Rockets since its first issue in 1982.

Queen of the Ring is a very different book, but it is spectacular in its own right.

Queen of the Ring is a collection of drawings of Women Wrestlers of the 1960s and 70s that Hernandez has done over the course of forty years. These drawings were done for his own amusement, and were not intended for publication. He drew them on copy paper, with cheap markers and colored pencil, and are a body of work that is more personal and more intimate than his comic book work.

Interspersed throughout this collection of drawings are Hernandez’s own words, taken from an interview (with the book’s editor, Katie Skelly), and these quotes, set alongside the drawings, give a real insight into the creative process of Jaime Hernandez.

Hernandez has always been a master of drawing the female form in a realistic and appealing manner, and he he does this throughout this book, showing the beauty, rage, glory, dispair and power of women who look like truck stop waitresses who could kick your ass.

Queen of the Ring is not a graphic novel. There is no narrative here, aside from the story of Hernandez and his fascination with drawing strong women with a variety of realistic body types. Hernandez has told stories with characters like these women in the graphic novella, Whoa, Nelly!, which really ought to be re-issued soon as a tie-in with this book.

Queen of the Ring, however, stands alone as an impressive artistic statement.

His linework, as always, is pure eye candy, while his composition and emotional punch are sharp as ever. The editing brings it all together with a near-perfect juxtaposition of Henandez’s art and words.

Reading this book, you will learn about Women’s wrestling in a bygone era, but you’ll also learn about the thought process and technique behind the work of Jaime Hernandez, and that is a very good thing, indeed.

Queen of the Ring is a gem of a book, a must-have for any fan of Love and Rockets, but with a lot of mainstream appeal, too. You should be able to order it from any bookseller, using the ISBN code, or find it discounted at Amazon.