Julio’s Day by Gilbert Hernandez


[Edit: Originally published July 16, 2016]

Julio’s day is a comic I found rather sobering in relation to the other books I’ve been reading recently. It’s not dark, but it’s real. It tells the story of one man, Julio and his family over several generations spanning from Julio’s birth in 1900 to his death in 2000.

In the very beginning before the story starts there is a key of faces for Julio and each of the family members as they age so you can tell who is who. It can be a hair tricky with the art style to figure that out, but the key is very helpful and I referred to it several times throughout my reading. 

The story primarily follows Julio, but there are tangents that follow his sister Sofia, and then her daughter Renata and her son Julio Tomas, and then his son, Julio Juan.

Julio Juan is gay (there is a very nsfw sequence surrounding this), and towards the end it’s implied that Julio is as well but has been closeted and was in love with his best friend Tommy all his life (Julio is quite elderly at this point.) 

Both World Wars, the Korean war, and the Vietnam war, are touched on within the story. With various family members and other townsfolk and friends joining up and what happens with that. 

Other recurring things include a poisonous blue worm that causes problems throughout generations, starting when Julio’s father gets infected after eating a taco that was infested. If you have issues with parasites you might have a problem here. The portrayal of the illness the worms cause is also pretty graphic with bleeding and bloating. 

It is also heavily implied that Julio’s uncle Juan is a child molester and that he did things to both Julio and his sister Sofia, though Julio doesn’t remember. Children go missing and then Juan is always the one who finds them. Sofia has been vocal about her dislike of uncle Juan from the very beginning, though it’s never explicitly stated it is heavily, heavily implied. 

It’s a heartfelt and touching story, all of the characters feel incredibly real. It’s an excellent read if you can handle the darker parts.

You can find the book here.