Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Julio's Day covers much more than a day as it takes place from Julio's birth in 1900 until his death in 2000. Over those hundred years, he ages, family members and friends die, and others are born. The effects of major events, including both world wars, the 1929 stock market crash, the Vietnam War, and the first Gulf War ripple through people's lives. The setting is an unnamed, rural, American village that calls to mind Palomar in its bucolic aspects.
Most of the pages in this volume were published in much shorter 1 and 2 page comics over the course of 6 years in the second volume of Love and Rockets, but here are combined to depict an entire lifespan. The cast of characters is large, and they age, appear, and disappear from the narrative, but Hernandez provides a handy reference page at the front of the book.
Charles Hatfield wrote, it is pretty interesting to read and compare this book, which is about a century's worth of lives and societal changes, with Marble Season, which is much more about Gilbert's childhood and a specific moment in time. Certainly both offer different views of Hernandez's impressive range of artistic and narrative prowess.
All the reviews I have read about this book have praised its beautiful art and intricate storytelling. In a starred review from Publishers Weekly it was called "a marvelous and tightly scripted epic whose last page is a heart-stopper." Tom Spurgeon spoke to its complexity, "I felt this work more than I processed it intellectually, which is odd in that I think it's relatively complex and will lend itself to multiple readings and a truckload of spread-across-a-table analyses." Andy Shaw summed up, "Julio’s Day is a literary classic, and another incredible piece of work from a true master of comics."
Julio's Day was published by Fantagraphics, and they provide a preview and much more here.