“Queen of the Ring” (which you can preorder on Fantagraphics or on Amazon) is a really cool collection of women’s wrestling illustrations by artist Jaime Hernandez, acclaimed author of “Love and Rockets”. All of the drawings in this book are from women’s wrestlers that the artist made up but were clearly inspired by wrestlers from the ’60s and ’70s and most of the drawings are set in that time period. You will identify similar traits to real life wrestlers. The 125 drawings are from Hernandez’s private collection, since he has been drawing these women throughout the years but have never shown them before.
You don’t only get beautiful awesome illustrations, but you will have context on it since there is a Hernandez interview throughout the book that explains his inspiration and how he became a fan of women’s wrestling and its aesthetics. He has been a fan for years and it shows with his knowledge and his art. K.C. Perez, Bettie Ray, Tiger Wells, the Rivera family, Panther Girl and others will come to life due to their evolutions throughout the years. It’s like following the careers of these fantasy wrestlers. On another note, you will also see the evolution of an artist over a 40 year period by seeing the changes of style with each character.
You will see pin-ups from the wrestlers themselves, said wrestlers in different kinds of photoshoots, action shots of them in the ring, promotional material of their matches, magazine covers that are inspired by real-life ones, and even newspaper headlines with quotes like “Winning isn’t Enough!” or “Don’t Call Me Baby” which denotes how the wrestler feels in the picture. It shows these different wrestlers wrestling throughout the US territories and the world, with even a cool poster from an event taking place in Puerto Rico. You even see made-up titles with their switches and lineages. Different wrestling companies are shown, since this is mostly made up from the territory days.
Even though these are not real wrestlers, you will recognize the drawings of the pictures and what it’s being referenced. Some of the shots will remind you of the Apter magazines. The pictures with the headlines are really cool. This is just beautiful art that will bring a smile to your face and remind you why pro wrestling is awesome and the art of photographing it.
I don’t know if I think this because I’m a fan, but pro wrestling always has some of the coolest photoshoots and action shots from any sport or any other realm of entertainment. Hernandez captures all of this without fail, and I love how he explains that the wrestler’s moves helped him become better at capturing action. All of the action shots in this book are awesome, be they punches or piledrivers or submissions.
Another thing I quite enjoyed is how Hernandez changes the wrestlers throughout the years and how some of them even have daughters. Since this was a collection done in the span of over 40 years, the wrestlers changed with time and style. Bettie Ray goes from having black hair to becoming a blonde, and the Rivera family’s legacy continues with young twins, for example. The changes in the wrestlers is not only due to age and time, but because they changed territory and country. This was a nice touch as a way to explain different looks for different wrestlers as the years passed.
“Queen of the Ring” is a great collection to have at your home. Not only will you marvel at the awesome art, see the evolution of an artist throughout the years, and feel nostalgia for old wrestling pictures (there is even one with blood!) and magazine covers, but this is perfect to have at your table. I even pictured myself leaving the copy at my coffee table for those visiting me to peruse.
I love art, and if you love art, comic books, and pro wrestling too, I think you will dig this collection. I love that Jaime Hernandez finally unleashed this gem that he had been keeping to himself to the world.
Enjoy these Voices of Wrestling exclusive pages provided to us by Jaime!