When in the 1980s Beto Hernandez (Oxnard, California, 1957) began publishing in the comic magazine Love – which he made with his brother Jaime – the stories around the fictitious town of Palomar, somewhere indeterminate in Central America in the On the other side of the border in the United States, many readers compared it to Gabriel García Márquez’s Macondo, but he, although he had heard of it, had not read it. “In the end I went to the bookstore, bought Cien años de soledad and read it, and I was surprised how similar many things were. Maybe it’s because of the heritage of Catholicism, maybe there are the same interests, although obviously his work is more fantastic and much more intense”, recalled a few days ago the author, one of the star guests of Comic Barcelona, ​​where he presented the recent re-edition of the first volume of the comprehensive Palomar published by La Cúpula.

Son of Mexican immigrants, but educated entirely in English – he does not speak Spanish, although in his stories there are some words in this language -, Hernandez’s stories make up a large fresco of characters that develop with time, based on family stories: “I took things about when I was growing up, from uncles and aunts and cousins ​​and also friends from school, I put them in Palomar and changed them to make a story”.

“I love connecting the characters and creating new family members, it’s an obsession that I have and I have to control, because otherwise I keep creating characters. Luba was my first major character, and she had a few children who have had a few children, and I like it because that’s what family is, it grows, it expands, and the characters I’m interested in will write themselves themselves”, he assures.

Hernandez is proud of the empowerment of her female characters: “Many people seeing Luba would decide that she is bad. And no, he is a good character, which I continued because he has many dimensions. Now, there is also indulgence, because I love to draw attractive women, but we felt that if we wanted to tell stories with beautiful girls, we needed to give them personality. It just seemed normal to us, but we found out it wasn’t, and for me it’s important to have influenced other comics in that sense, that really makes me happy.”

He didn’t think it would be an international success, “I thought it would reach a small group, a few hundred people, but people were interested in this different kind of comic, because in the US most people are used to superheroes, even though the underground comic was already there from the beginning”. It has not been an easy path in a country “that despises comics if they are not mainstream, where commercial comics want to sell toys and series and movies, and ours is a small market, but we accept it, because the readers are wonderful”. “Comics are also culture, and we are on the margins, we make art and communication”, he says, happy about the new edition, not only because it means that “young people not only expect new things, but they still like old stories ”, but also because “I really like that they are published in Spanish, because in California a lot of people ask me about it”.