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A remarkable fusing of underground and mainstream comic tradition, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez’s Love & Rockets still remains as noteworthy and distinctive since its launch more than 30 years ago. The numerous extended stories enveloped in the series, often presented in a drastic rendition of narrative elision,  allowed for such a diverse breadth of characters spanning both space and time. One such story is JULIO’S DAY, which was first serialized in Love and Rockets Vol. II and now finally completed and compiled into a graphic novel, published by FANTAGRAPHICS.

Utilizing Gilbert’s mastery of the manipulation of time through his narrative, JULIO’S DAY, this 100-page graphic novel follows the life of a Love & Rockets character, Julio, as he is born on the first page and dies on the last. Through Julio’s life, Gilbert weaves every year of his life fully through each page, depicting the moments that shape his own identity along with his family, community, and the world.

It begins in the year 1900, with the scream of a newborn. It ends, 100 pages later, in the year 2000, with the death rattle of a 100-year-old man. The infant and the old man are both Julio, and Gilbert Hernandez’s Julio’s Day (originally serialized in Love and Rockets Vol. IIbut never completed until now) is his latest graphic novel, a masterpiece of elliptical, emotional storytelling that traces one life — indeed, one century in a human life — through a series of carefully crafted, consistently surprising and enthralling vignettes.

There is hope and joy, there is bullying and grief, there is war (so much war — this is after all the 20th century), there is love, there is heartbreak. While Julio’s Day has some settings and elements in common with Hernandez’s Palomar cycle (the Central American protagonists and milieu, the vivid characters, the strong familial and social ties), this is a very much a singular, standalone story that will help cement his position as one of the strongest and most original cartoonists of this, or any other, century.

Set to be released in March, JULIO’S DAY is going to be an excellent addition to the already stellar Love & Rockets series, as well as marking yet another pillar of graphic narrative genius that has made Gilbert Hernandez such an innovative storyteller.

Peek these previews until you can get your own hands on a copy of JULIO’S DAY. Pre-order is available through the Fantagraphics website, along with a video-preview of the graphic novel.

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