Hot off the heels of Hernandez’s last graphic novel masterpiece, Winter 2019’s Is This How You See Me?, comes Tonta, a stand-alone graphic novel that shines a light on the family tree of one of Hernandez’s most memorable characters of the past several years, the teenaged Tonta.
Though a self-styled loner, Tonta is forced to confront her fractured and damaged family history during a weekend stay with her half-sister, the self-absorbed Vivian. While visiting Vivian, Tonta’s stepfather is shot at home during a botched burglary, which leads to the discovery of family secrets that require Tonta to confront some unpleasant truths that she’s previously managed to suppress or remain ignorant of.
Through it all, Tonta showcases Hernandez’s brilliant talent for character, weaving a host of characters and milieus from his vast arsenal. Tonta’s halfsister Vivian gets involved with small-town gangster Mel Spropp, owner of the Cobia Club, while Tonta and her friend, Gomez, befriend the mysterious “Gorgon,” a young woman who keeps tabs on the neighborhood from the surrounding woods. Meanwhile, back at school, Tonta and Gomez discover that Coach Angel harbors a secret of her own (can you say, “lucha libre”?) while local punk band Ooot provides the soundtrack for a summer not soon to be forgotten.