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Julio's Day Hardcover – April 20, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›