Wednesday, November 25, 2020


FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS – @fantagraphics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

CARTOONIST: Gilbert Hernandez
EDITOR: Eric Reynolds
COVER: Gilbert Hernandez with Paul Baresh
24pp, B&W, $4.99 U.S. (June 2020)

“Mercy and the Devil”

Gilbert “'Beto” Hernandez is the prolific half of the comic book creating duo, Los Bros. (the other half being his brother, Jaime Hernandez).  Gilbert and Jaime are the creators of Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics Books), the seminal alternative comic book series, and perhaps, the greatest American comic book series of all time.

Gilbert has produced a number of solo projects including (the infamous) Blubber, Yeah! (with writer Peter Bagge), and Twilight Children (with the late Darwyn Cooke).  Gilbert's latest solo comic book project is the recently launched series, Psychodrama Illustrated.  According to publisher Fantagraphics Books, Psychodrama Illustrated is a new Love and Rockets spin-off focusing on the classic character, Rosalba Martinez, best known as “Fritz,” and on her extended family, especially Fritz's grand-niece, Dora “Killer” Rivera.  The series will feature stories about Fritz’s film career “that bend Fritz’s reality” and the “reality” of the comic book itself.

Psychodrama Illustrated #2 (“Mercy and the Devil”) opens not in the life of Fritz.  Instead, it opens in “Mercy and the Devil,” a strange movie about an ex-adult film actress (played by Fritz) and her grifter daughter, “Mercy” (played by Killer).  Mom and Mercy's relationship is played as if they are as all-American as... well, as mom and apple pie.  However, the specter of murder looms, and both mother and daughter have a penchant for taking men for the money.  But is one of the women taking men's lives as well as their money?  Or are both of them killer dames?

THE LOWDOWN:  As I wrote in my review of Psychodrama Illustrated #1, I was and am a huge fan of Beto's Blubber comic book series.  I found Blubber to be in the tradition (or at least in the spirit) of Underground Comix with its brave and bold depictions of raunchy sex and surreal sexuality.

On the other hand, Psychodrama Illustrated comes across, if not personal, then, as the work of a visionary free to commit to paper whatever the hell he wants.  After all, the main narrative of Psychodrama Illustrated #2 takes place entirely inside the narrative of a film.  This is not the first time that one of Gilbert's stories takes place inside of a movie; many have, and some still do in Love and Rockets.  And this is a good thing, because Gilbert does it so well.

Gilbert is doing what he wants at his pace and in his way.  I find myself drawn to this series, and more so than with first issue.  I did not want Psychodrama Illustrated #2 to end.  After all, there is a strange allure to the combination of sex and death, and I am sure many men and women dream of engaging in sexual congress with a dangerous, even homicidal woman.  Yeah, the way Gilbert draws Fritz's gargantuan breasts annoys the f*** out of me, but in this comic book, I felt the most drawn to her that I have ever felt.

I am in love with “Mercy and the Devil,” and I want to experience... more of this particular kind of work from Gilbert.  I want whatever he wants do draw when it comes to Psychodrama Illustrated... and I could use some more right now.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Gilbert Hernandez's Love and Rockets comics will want to try Psychodrama Illustrated.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for syndication rights and fees.


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