It’s hard to even know where to start with Marble Season. From the first few pages, it feels like Peanuts mixed with Love and Rockets. Beto writes it with a child’s wonderment–the graphic novel is set in the late sixties, with lots of pop culture references and inferred growing pains–and draws it with something similar. He even uses off panel or white backgrounds to keep the too adult things out of the book. There are no adults in Season, something he makes clear when one of the characters hears a parent yelling in that old “Peanuts” television fashion.
Season follows Huey, the second of three brothers, as he makes new friends, discovers new comics, debates Bozo versus Jimmy Olsen. It’s set during a school year, but Beto never shows the kids at school. Huey’s his stand-in, which I guess makes Huey’s younger brother, Jaime; it’s not actually important to Season. There’s a list of all the pop culture references? Those aren’t important either. Beto knows what he’s doing, which is sort of creating this entire world (there’s a huge Latino against white subtext, not to mention the girls being ready for boys and the boys still wanting to be stupid), which makes it very hard to discuss Season concisely.
The book is meticulously crafted, subplots running gently through it–their payoffs usually left understated or just unsaid. It’s a brilliant piece of work. My inability to discuss it shouldn’t imply it’s too complex, it’s just too perfect.
Writer, artist and letterer, Gilbert Hernandez; publisher, Drawn and Quarterly.