Bumperhead

Gilbert Hernandez. Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-77046-165-9
Following up on his portrait of childhood in Marble Season, Hernandez returns with this heartbreaking, ambitious, and fascinating portrayal of Bobby, a kid growing up in Oxnard, Calif. The book is broken into five parts, each focusing on a key juncture in Bobby's life, that together span the period from childhood to middle age. Bobby falls for and loses girls; he's manipulated and beaten up, then broken down and wounded by his father and his boss at the office building where he's a janitor. He is brought into and pushed out of various music scenes and groups of friends, and we're with him every step of the way; his frailties are as universal as his dreams, as revealed through first-person narration that expresses his confusion, anger, and, sometimes, joy. "When you can talk to a beautiful woman about stupid shit like UFOs then you know life is good," he says at one point. Hernandez's art is characteristically gorgeous—clean lines and strong contrasts, with expressive, unique characters, subtly changing as Bobby's situation does. Bobby comes to life as a sympathetic but complicated character, and the book's darker elements—the nightmarish sky, Bobby's father's secret down in Mexico, and the tablet owned by one of the characters that can predict the future—create a creepy, textured, and mysterious background to his mostly disappointing life adventures. Do not miss this delicate, heartbreaking masterpiece. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/04/2014
Release date: 09/16/2014
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