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Heartburst and other Pleasures Paperback – June 3, 2008
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It would be easy to find examples of xenophobia and racism in recent centuries. But Rick Veitch’s Heartburst is not confined to Earth. It takes place, in fact, in a faraway galaxy, in a world that has been invaded by earthmen. Humans have enslaved the Ploo, a peaceful race of humanoids that had always lived in this strange planet. And because these aliens represent the unknown, we fear them and hate them intensely and irrationally.
Trying to preserve their “genetic purity”, humans have forbidden interracial relationships. Sex between a human and a Ploo is strictly prohibited. However, Sunoco, the protagonist, falls in love with a native Ploo. As a hotheaded young man, he can’t resist the urge to have sex with this alien. And so they copulate. Sunoco, now a heathen and an outlaw, must leave everything behind and venture into the wild and unexplored regions of the planet.
Rick Veitch writes a very compelling story about racism, intolerance and fear, and I must highlight his mature approach, which surprised me a lot, especially considering that this was first published in 1978, an era ruled by censorship and conventionalism.
Veitch illustrated Heartburst using the most advanced techniques of the 70s, his mastery over the airbrush can be compared with the works of the legendary artist Richard Corben. But there is more, there is an admirable level of detail, and above all, a true love for color. This is one of the most amazing coloring works of those years; combining as many technical resources as possible, Rick Veitch creates page after page of stunning art. Pencils, inks and colors integrate harmonically in one exquisite and unforgettable visual feast.
Heartburst and Other Pleasures reprints the 70s classic, and it also includes some rare short stories written or illustrated by Veitch, such as “Sneaky Pete” (Bedlam Comics), “Underpass” (Streetwise) and the magnificent “A Day To Remember” (Bananas Magazine, 1982), a crazy sci-fi tale written by Bob (R L) Stine that reminded me of the best Tharg’s Future Shocks from 2000AD. Four pages of great writing and even greater art.
Nevertheless, there is another hidden gem here: “The Mirror of Love”, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Stephen R. Bissette and Rick Veitch. It was originally published in 1988 in AARGH! (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) as a response to Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to “eradicate” homosexuality in England. Instead of a traditional story, Moore creates a sort of ‘sequential documentary’, highlighting the most important moments of gay culture throughout thousands of years. As Veitch explains “It’s a gorgeous example of the rhythmic style he’d evolved in his commercial comics, taken to achingly lyrical heights”. There are two narrative levels developed simultaneously, the first depicts historical facts and is drawn by Stephen R. Bissette with rich inks and a painted-like texture; the second level focuses on two male angels, lovers that share their joy or suffering depending on what happens in any given century.
If you find this book buy it, there is no other way you'll get to read such an impressive array of stories without having to track down the original source material.