Author ORCID Identifier
Prof. Mercedes Fernandez-Asenjo
While questions of misrepresentation are starting to be addressed in academia — acknowledging racial, cultural, gender, and artistic diversity — there is still much work to be done to close the gap between the literary canon and what contemporary literature actually looks like. These efforts have been a step in the right direction, but representation of unconventional literatures is often spotty, boiling down entire literary scenes into one book. This is especially true for those that offer formal or structural challenges – including multilingual and graphic narratives that don’t easily fit into a canonical “box.”
Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar comics, serialized in Love and Rockets and later collected into graphic novels, demonstrate literature that is difficult to categorize and is thus excluded from academic attention. The three graphic novels that make up the bulk of Palomar tell funny yet tragic stories of individual passions and community responsibility in a small Latin American village. As the series progresses, Hernandez transforms from an author dominated by his influences — Hispanic literature and 1960s comics — to an artist at the forefront of both “scenes,” subverting the expectations of each to great effect. Palomar’s last novel, Poison River, is a masterpiece of graphic fiction that should be considered among the best of all twentieth-century literature – Chicano, graphic, or otherwise. Though the canon has traditionally excluded unique voices like Hernandez, his work deserves to be reevaluated academically and have its complexity considered a strength, not a reason for exclusion.
Dolan, M. (2022). Questions of Canon in Gilbert Hernandez's "Palomar" Comics. Binghamton University Undergraduate Journal, 8(1). Retrieved from https://orb.binghamton.edu/alpenglowjournal/vol8/iss1/5
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