This Love and Rockets Spin Off Puts Gay Life Center Stage

Julio's Day, the new graphic novel from Love and Rockets creator Gilbert Hernandez, follows one character, a gay man named Julio, for 100 years. The result is astounding.



Julio is a gay man, but the kind of gay man who would never call himself gay. After all Julio is a man of his times, and — in his day — gay men often lived their entire lives in the closet. Julio never verbalizes his orientation and neither does Hernandez. Still, the artist/author is able to hint at same-sex encounters and gay love in the imagery and dialogue. Remarkably, the book includes no descriptive narrative; there are only images and dialogue to tell the reader what time period it is and what is going on.

Julio reflects his time. But, as Julio’s Day clearly demonstrates, times change. Thus, Julio’s great, great nephew — who not only shares Julio’s name but his desire for men — is presented much differently: his homosexuality is blatant. Hernandez explicitly illustrates his romantic and sexual encounters.

The differences between the older and younger Julio’s is captured in this brief exchange:

“It’s no secret that I sleep with men, Julio,” says the younger man. “I’m not ashamed.”

“Stop talking filth,” elder Julio replies.

The younger Julio opens a gay night club and deals with the impact of AIDS, yet remains happy, well-adjusted and — perhaps most importantly — partnered as the story comes to an end. Meanwhile the older Julio dies in the same house where he was born, alone but for the woman who brought him into the world. His mother is there at both ends, to usher Julio in and out of his life.

Julio’s day is past. It is now the younger Julio’s day. And ours.

Tags: Books