Cartoonist creates beautiful novel

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March 28, 2014 | 4:21 pm

Instead of measuring time in days or months, children often mark time in episodes.

“My obsession with garage sales,” for example, or “my huge crush on Sam.” These periods might last a month. Or two years. However, when it comes to novels, these smaller episodes are often sacrificed for the sake of one larger, arcing storyline.

This is not the case in six-time Harvey award-winning cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez’s beautiful new graphic novel, “Marble Season,” which follows Huey, the middle of three siblings, through his life growing up in a California suburb in the 1960s. Instead of following one plot line, Hernandez plays it true to childhood and explores a series of episodes (or seasons). It’s powerful, moving, funny stuff. Because it’s all here: childhood obsessions and superstitions; the beginnings of love; the fear of big kids and strange neighbors; the joy of pretend. With his spare drawings and lyrical storytelling (think Little Lulu meets Peanuts), Hernandez maintains his status as one America’s great storytellers.

Not only does Hernandez beautifully capture the dialogue and interactions between children, he even captures the way they stand — and the way they stop and reflect on a moment. There is a sense of awe and wonder present in children that is often forgotten — or neglected — in adulthood. Hernandez has not forgotten, and his careful drawings and occasional open panels invite readers to pause and remember when each day was a new adventure, and anything could happen if you just said the word: “pretend.”

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