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Julio's Day Hardcover – April 20, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Because day in it means a lifetime (like what we mean by saying, in Grandma’s day), the title of this spare graphic novel denotes an entire century. Julio Reyes is born in 1900 and dies in the same bed in 2000. We see him as infant, toddler, first-grader, bigger boy, and young, middle-aged, old, and finally, very old man. He far outlives his feisty sister and handsome-brat brother. He never marries, and his closest relationships are with other males, though when sex apparently impinges on one of them, he abandons it. Moreover, he can’t stomach his great, great nephew’s homosexuality. For lengthy stretches of his story, he’s unspeaking, in the background, nowhere around as we watch the more dramatic lives of friends and family flare in bizarre illness and death, in madness and violence, and in love, at home more than in the wars and wanderings they are called to. All along, he lives with his mother, the still center of a century-long family storm that Hernandez’s mastery of comics somehow makes somberly beautiful. --Ray Olson


“"A haunting performance and about as perfect a literary work as I’ve read in years. Hernandez accomplishes in 100 pages what most novelists only dream of―rendering the closeted phlegmatic Julio in all his confounding complexity and in the process creating an unflinching biography of a community, a country and a century. A masterpiece."” (Junot Díaz)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; 1 edition (April 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606996061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606996065
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.7 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gilbert Hernandez is probably best know as the clumsy half of the "Love and Rockets" series. I say clumsy because, while his work frequently touches greatness, it is often stumbles around in incoherence, random acts of terrible violence, and sexual imagery that verges on offensive. While Jaime's stories are clean and precise (like his line work), Gilbert's often stumble about looking for a theme, or (if they have a theme) a way of delivering it. Gilbert is obviously the "difficult" child.

And I buy them all anyway, because even a second-rate Gilbert is better than almost everyone else in the field.

Because it's the gems like "Julio's Day" that make it worthwhile.

This is probably his best work since the "Palomar" series. Encompassing the 100 year life of Julio (in a 100 pages) it is an astonishing series of vignettes that are often funny, and frequently heartbreaking. All the stylistic an aesthetic nuances that annoy me in his other work are still here - but in "Julio's Day" they work perfectly. It's as if the last ten years of Gilbert's work (and a substantial and very respectable body of work it is) have suddenly paid of in this wonderful example of diamond-hard truth.

I've read everything he's done twice, but this is one I will be reading over and over.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Julio's Day is a lovely, poignant portrayal of a Hispanic community in the Southwest through the eyes of Julio whom we meet on the day of his birth in 1900. The first panel is the wide open mouth of a baby newly born. Each page of the graphic novel is a year in Julio's life, and through him we experience not only his own life and that of his family, but also the major historical and cultural events of the 20th century. Funny, sad, warm, and difficult, we experience the relationships that Julio has and doesn't have. As a closeted male, he lives with his mother all his life and chooses not to explore potential relationships.

Illness, war, child abuse, death and sorrow fill these pages, but overall the feeling that comes through is the optimism that comes from the ongoing relationships of family and friends. As Julio ages, he watched the world change with cultural upheaval of the sixties and the war in Vietnam. Family members go to the city and interact with people of different cultural backgrounds. When his sister's grandson, Julio Juan, lives the life in the city that Julio could not have, he is not sympathetic, and his namesake explains to his lover that Julio, nearly 100 years old, still lives in the house where he was born. The book ends as it began, with Julio in bed, a wide open mouth of a man at the end of his life.

I found this book rich and satisfying, and more moving that I would have suspected a graphic novel could be. I recommend it highly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Julio's Day is actually a book about Julio's (family) Life. A charming BW time travel from the birth of Julio Reyes in 1900 to his passing in the year 2000. Although set in America's South, most of the characters are Mexican or from Mexican origin and culture. This is a charming trip for the rider, with so many things happening in the life of Julio's family. There is love and hatred, dark secrets, innocence, innocence lost, gay repressed sex and explicit sex, treason, murder, madness, hilarious bizarre moments, joy and sadness. The only chronological anchors are the references to the wars that spanned the 20th century, changes in clothing and some social references that are easily associated with specific decades. There is also a visual anchoring in the depiction of the town's progressive industrialisation.

I know that the author and the book have been defined as within the Magic Realism genre. To me, there is little or nothing of Magic Realism in this book. There are certainly episodes of mental alienation, trippy, but that is it. To me, this book connects more with Latin-American family-saga telenovelas than with anything else. Hernandez does a great job at infusing this family saga with enough charm, realism, and lack of 'Manichaeism' to get the story away of extreme non-believable characters. The story feels organic, alive, as it was real. The characters feel as real. In fact, I have known people who were like those in this book.

One of the main elements of Mexican culture (and Hispanic/Spanish) culture is how death is understood, perceived and faced. This is especially valid for Mexicans in the period Hernández describes.
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Format: Hardcover
Gilbert Hernandez’s latest comic, Julio’s Day, tells the story of Julio, a Mexican gay man born in 1900 and who dies in 2000, and takes the format of telling the 100 year life of Julio in 100 pages. The book follows the lives of Julio and his family, and his friends and acquaintances that make up the small town they live in and how their lives change over the course of growing up alongside the major events of the 20th century. It’s a deep, complex, and absolutely captivating story filled with the horrors of life amidst its many joys, and deals with things like war, disability, sexual attitudes, child abuse, love, innocence lost, family, ambition unrealised, dreams and nightmares, life and death.

Hernandez has been creating comics for decades now with the end result being that he is an incredibly accomplished comics storyteller. Eschewing narrative boxes, Hernandez tells his 100 year story without once naming any of its locations or times. Occasionally a character will mention an event that will place the scene in historical context like World War 1, or the Wall Street Crash, or Vietnam, but it’s up to the reader to judge for themselves the times certain scenes take place by looking at the characters’ appearances as they age.

Hernandez doesn’t use exposition and never uses excess speech – it’s a lean script with perfectly placed dialogue. He knows when to let the art speak for the scene and when to accentuate it with conversation. Reading this book is like watching a master-class in how to tell a comics story. Bear in mind he’s not doing anything innovative, he’s using black and white panels in a grid layout to tell his tale like so many comics before, he just happens to do it so well that it feels fresh, vivid and new.
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