[The Umpteen Millionaire Club is our series which puts forth book club discussion questions for Fantagraphics titles. The Comics Journal interns Brooke Chin, Tom Graham and Toby Liebowitz put together this set of questions. Please note that this is intended for those who have read the book and contains spoilers. – Ed.]
Julio’s Day is a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez that spans the hundred-year life of one man. It opens with his birth; it follows Julio and his family and friends in a small farming village as successive generations are born and die. Packed within the pages is a range of human experience: a soldier goes to war and is changed; evil in the family goes unaddressed; and there’s the blue worm. We follow Julio to the end, which is much as the beginning, or, to quote Samuel Beckett, "the same day, the same second."
1. How does the blue worm function symbolically or metaphorically? What is the relationship of the blue worm with the rain and the mud?
2. What do you make of the dismembered soldier and the overall treatment of war?
3. The introduction to the book, by Brian Evenson, opens with the aforementioned Waiting for Godot Samuel Beckett quotation. Do you detect literary allusions and/or influences in the graphic novel itself, and, if so, which ones?
4. How are the cycles of birth/death treated in the story? How does the Beckett line that starts off the introduction resonate throughout the book?
5. How are gender roles and sexuality portrayed in Julio's Day? What comparisons can be drawn between the static characters and those that evolve?
6. Julio and Julio Juan are homosexual. How are their sexual identities shaped by the times they live in, respectively?
7. How do the splash panels of weather and landscapes serve as a contrast to the human interaction in the story? What other purposes does it serve? How do they function as transitions?
8. What narrative or artistic techniques does the cartoonist use to convey the passage of time, and how does that impact your reading of the story?
9. What is the significance of Julio's name being passed on through the generations?
10. Why is this graphic novel titled Julio's Day? What is, in fact, Julio's day?