Heartburst and Other Pleasures: written by Rick Veitch with Alan Moore; illustrated by Rick Veitch with Steve Bissette (collected 2008): This selection of Veitch’s early 1980’s graphic ‘novel’ Heartburst and a number of other short pieces from two decades is a pleasure to read.

Heartburst (really only 48 pages long and called a ‘novel’ when first published when, as Veitch notes in his introduction, the derived-from-the-French ‘graphic album’ would have made more sense) presents an Earth colony that has based its entire culture on the early American TV broadcasts that are just arriving on that world thanks to the pesky speed of light.

That Earth colony, a sort of quasi-Roman Catholic fascist tyranny, is also in the process of exterminating the intelligent natives of that planet for, among other things, being too sexually liberated.

Veitch does a nice job of playing in a very satiric, 1950’s science-fictional universe, but with more sex and a little more nudity, and the quantum-spiritualism elements of the text are really quite charming. The whole thing would only be more enjoyable at two or three times the length, where certain elements (such as the travelling circus) might end up feeling more organic and a bit less forced.

The short pieces and sketches give brief snapshots of Veitch throughout his career. He’s remained remarkably consistent, and as a bonus, the colours in this collection really ‘pop’: it looks terrific. Recommended.

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