A pop culture icon’s time in Mexico.

The 40s. Famous writer William S. Burroughs (Bill) began his career as one of the most mythical and mad characters of the slums of New York City.  He experimented with any and every drug he could get his hands on, and quickly turned into a heroin addict, a habit he maintained until his last days.

Joan and Bill were never a normal couple. Bill created a dysfunctional family thanks to his affairs and drug addictions, but even so, Bill adores his wife. They understand and accompany each other. Bill settles his family in Texas where he sets up two large marijuana plantations. Bill briefly passes through New Orleans, hanging out with bad company and having numerous run-ins with the police, eventually being caught with a large stash of marijuana and weapons in his home. This landed him directly in jail. However, the police never got their hands on the plantation that Burroughs had in Texas. Burroughs’ lawyer got him a leave of absence on personal business to go to Texas to see his family and advised him to cross the border into Mexico and never come back. It was at this point that Bill, fleeing from American justice, moved to Mexico in 1949 with his wife Joan, stepdaughter Julie and young son Billy. However, Burroughs soon becomes fed up with his life in Mexico. After going to rehab for his heroin addiction, he decides to live an adventure touring South America with Joan and some friends with the sole purpose of trying Ayahuasca. Once he succeeds, surrounded by shamans, he looks for a place to set up a plantation and profit from the experience. Loving his wife does not prevent Bill from meeting and falling in love with Luis, a man he meets thanks to this trip through South America.

Burroughs’ life goes awry when, two years later, drunk Bill shoots and kills his wife “involuntarily” during a stupid game of “Guillermo Tell”. They had already played this game on numerous occasions and Bill always demonstrated spectacular precision and aim… an aim that did not fail him until that very night. Burroughs is a completely changed man after this episode in his life. He gets off scot-free after a two-week stint in jail and from this point on, Bill isn’t even a shadow of his former self. Whilst in Mexico, he maintains his parents and is uninspired to write. And if that wasn’t enough, he contracts Hepatitis. To take care of Bill, Luis goes to live with him and the grandparents, both maternal and paternal, fly to Mexico to take care of the children. Neither illness, nor Luis, nor parole stop Bill when he decides to flee Mexico. He manages to cross the border to say goodbye to his son Billy and his parents, and soon reaches his destination: Tangiers.

It was at this moment when Burroughs wrote the work that would make him transcend and become the icon of counterculture that he is today. A character who, at the end of his life, returned to New York and did not miss out on parties with the likes of Kurt Cobain, Warhol and David Bowie.


RELEVANT DATA: The publishing house advertises Uncle Bill as a biography; however, the author defines it as a fictional autobiography. In fact, it is a graphic novel that, with a satirical tone, intertwines the biography of William S. Burroughs, a legendary figure of 20th century American literature, with the autobiography of the author himself, Bernardo Fernández.

It is Bernardo Fernández who, in this reading, unveils the life and work of William S. Burroughs as he investigates him, discovering a controversial character in his passage through Mexico with his family.

Bernardo Fernández, also known as Bef, is one of the most recognized authors of graphic novels as well as science fiction writers in his country. He is one of the most considered Mexican writers, cartoonists, and graphic designers of the current scene. He has collaborated as a cartoonist and writer in underground and commercial newspapers, such as: Día Siete, Nexos, SUB, Hemofilia, Molotov and Complot, of which he was art director, which earned him a National Journalism Award.

Outstanding in all three fields, he won the Una vuelta de tuerca en México and the Memorial Silverio Cañadas Award at the Gijón Noir Festival. He also won the Ignotus Award in the category of Best Short Science Fiction Novel.


What the critics have said:

“Bef ventured into one of the most dramatic episodes in literature -the turbulent youth of William S. Burroughs in Mexico- to achieve a masterpiece. An investigation into a murder and the mysteries of creativity, this graphic novel is also the autobiography of Bef, the hallucinating artist who captures in black and white all the colors of the mind.” Juan Villoro

“The story that every Mexican underground culture lover knows (more or less), told in the best way by our comic star: Bef. A must read.” Joselo Rangel (Café Tacvba)


AUDIOVISUAL POTENTIAL: TV Series, Miniseries, Film, TV Movie.


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