Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Marble Season

Marble Season is a coming of age story in the vein of works like Our Gang, Peanuts, or the Cosby Kids, where children's personalities, rich fantasy lives, senses of play, imaginations, and mercurial social relationships are highlighted. In this sort-of-autobiography Gilbert Hernandez threads together the monumental and routine into a tapestry that reflects childhood experiences and sensibilities with a sense of whimsy, nostalgia, and also poignancy.

The book mostly follows Huey, the middle brother in a family. He roams the neighborhood, usually with his kid brother Chavo in tow. He gets annoyed by having him trail along all the time, but he also has a similar relationship with his older brother Junior, who is a teenager trying to act cool and hit on girls. The boys' lives revolve around comic books, professional wrestling, and television shows, and they play lots of games outside modeled on those media.
They also have lots of interesting neighbors, like the girl who compulsively eats marbles
or the new kids who are oblivious, volatile, and very physical.
In all, this is a thoughtful and moving look at childhood and its many intricacies.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have deemed it praiseworthy. In a starred review Publishers Weekly called it "a masterful, involving, funny, and real portrait of kids and their wide world, unlimited by reality—until, at least, it’s time to go home for dinner." The Comics Journal's Rob Clough summed up his review, "Hernandez’s understanding and recollection of the formative moments of childhood is surpassed only by his ability to depict it on the page with a style that is both naturalistic and cartoony." Rachel Cooke called it "a treat: beady, nostalgic and sometimes unexpectedly piercing."

A preview is available here from Drawn & Quarterly.

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