Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The idea of photographically reproducing original comics art pages to create near-perfect facsimile editions may have started with Scott Dunbier at IDW but many other publishers have since produced their own versions of the format. The Fantagraphics Studio Edition: Jaime Hernandez is a 192 page cloth-bound hardcover measuring 343 x 438 mm, much wider dimensions than the usual Artists’ Editions. Jaime Hernandez chooses to work on tabloid-sized pages measuring 279 x 355 mm, smaller than standard American comics industry proportions, and this book features a layout which presents his original art pages framed by 30mm black borders. It seems likely this was a design decision to make this volume roughly the same size as other Artist Editions, but it works well. Hernandez doesn’t write any notes on the margins of his art, and the framing allows for page numbers and titles so you can find your way around the book easily and identify which story you’re looking at. This book is printed on coated paper which allows for sharper definition of brushstrokes and varying depths of black ink and pencil. It doesn’t feel as replica-like as Artist Editions printed on uncoated paper, but arguably reproduces the detail of the art more faithfully.
The Fantagraphics Studio Edition: Jaime Hernandez opens with an excellently in-depth interview conducted by Gary Groth exploring Xaime’s approach to drawing, and contains original art pages written and drawn by Hernandez for 14 complete stories: ‘Queen Rena: Life at 34’, ‘All this and Penny, Too’, ‘In The Valley Of The Polar Bears’ parts I and II, ‘Boxer, Bikini, or Brief’, ‘Spring 1982’, ‘Wigwam Bam, part 8’, ‘Chester Square’, ‘Easter Hunt’, ‘Gonna Make You My Man’, ‘The Navas of Hazel Court’, ‘Our Christmas!!!’, and ‘It’s Not That Big A Deal.’ These are followed by an “Outtakes” section featuring 32 pages that were self-rejected, unfinished or abandoned for various reasons. Hernandez explains in brief notes about each one just why they didn’t make it into Love and Rockets.
The Fantagraphics Studio Edition: Jaime Hernandez is a beautifully designed and produced book providing great insight into the creative process of one of the most accomplished comics creators working today. If you’re a fan, you will find it very difficult to stop looking at these gorgeously accomplished pages.