Student finds pornographic book at Rio Rancho High   New Mexico News   KOAT Home.png
Sadly I can’t embed the local news scare quotes story here but the transcript is almost as good. A mother in Rio Rancho, NM found her son had checked out Gilbert Hernandez’ PALOMAR from the school library, and then things got dangerous!

She said her son checked out the book “Palomar” from the Rio Rancho High School library Wednesday.

The 14-year-old thought it might be a Magna, or Japanese-style comic book. There are cartoon-like characters, but Lopez said she found 30 disturbing images in the book.

“I started to find child pornography pictures and child abuse pictures and I was like, ‘No. That’s not going to happen in my house,’” she said.

Online, “Palomar” is described as a graphic novel written by Gilbert Hernandez.


Even more incredibly the book—which reprints Hernandez’s acclaimed stories set in a small Mexican town from the first 10 issues or so of Love and Rockets—had been in the library since 2006! And no one noticed! The school library is investigating to find out HOW THIS HAPPENED?

How did it happen? Palomar is an acclaimed book by an acclaimed author, probably.

That said, the Palomar tales are definitely full of pee-pees, woo-woos and lots and lots of bazingas. It is a haunting, adult story of love, sex, betrayal, memory and loss. No one in comics draws guys with their dinguses hanging out quite the way Beto does. That said, as wonderful as this material is, school libraries are under a lot of pressure over standards, and Palomar is definitely rather adventurous material.

I would link to some images by my ad network won’t allow it. UPDATE: Jen Vaughan has a dingus parade! Thanks Jen!

Anyway, this seems like a tempest in a teapot with some deliberately misleading scary inaccurate quotes. Will it blow over as virtually every similar scandal—PARENT led protests, that is, not government led ones like the removal of Persepolis from Chicago schools—in recent years has? We’ll see.

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UPDATED 2: ON a more serious note, the CBLDF is responding to this with help and information:

Needless to say, Palomar is not actually a collection of child porn — Publishers Weekly called it “a superb introduction to the work of an extraordinary, eccentric and very literary cartoonist” and it often draws comparisons to the magic realism of novelists such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The book collects Hernandez’s “Heartbreak Soup” stories which originally appeared in the Love and Rockets series, a collaboration with his brothers Jaime and Mario. Gilbert Hernandez’s stories focus on the interconnected lives of characters from one family in the fictional South American town of Palomar.

Although filtered by KOAT’s biased reporting Rio Rancho Public Schools officials’ characterization of the book as “clearly inappropriate” is worrisome. We certainly hope that the said officials are up to speed on their district’s policy on Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials, which says in part:


Review of questioned (“challenged”) materials will be treated objectively, unemotionally, and as a routine matter. Criticisms of print and non-print materials must be submitted in writing on a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form obtained from the librarian at the library/media center where the material is housed and submitted to the Superintendent of schools. The Request must be signed and include specific information as to author, title, publisher, and definite citation of objection.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I “love” how the parent felt the need to take this to the local news station. Honestly, if you look at Gilbert Hernandez’s work (Birdland aside) and instantly think “pornographic”, the point has been missed.

  2. “Palomar is an epic story that shows to the general public, the great heights that graphic literature can reach and people should rally behind this effort to push back against the forces of ignorance and stupidity.

  3. i first discovered Love and Rockets at my local library at around the age of 11.
    to my 11 year old eyes, it might as well have been pornography (at least a treated it as such at the time).

    i Love L&R more than just about any comic in this world, but i do not think i should have been reading it as a minor. take that as you will.

    (luckly I wasn’t stupid enough to show it to my mother)

  4. I was in high school the first time I read Palomar, and I think high school seems like a perfectly good age for it. If we were talking about an elementary or middle-school library, I might agree that it was inappropriate for that audience, but it seems age-appropriate for high school to me.

    Though I might worry about some of the pages sticking together.

  5. I think “Blue Is the Warmest Color” is a great film, but I wouldn’t consider showing it in a high-school English class. Anybody here would?

    Sensationalist reporting aside, Palomar’s literary quality isn’t really the question here. The question is how likely high-school students will be to perceive that literary quality in between the images of Luba’s enormous bouncing bosom and Tonantzin’s thunder thighs.

    Like it or not, words and images are not equal. Despite their similarities in content, there’s good reason that “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” is in many high-school libraries while “Palomar” isn’t.

    Besides, even a modestly enterprising fourteen-year-old interested in this sort of material should be able to find it without much difficulty, at a public library or a bookshop. I see no reason to shelve it in high schools.

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