Mother, Come Home

By Paul Hornschemeier
112 pages, color
Issues published by Absence of Ink; collection published by Dark Horse

I’d been holding off on this review for a while because I wanted to see how it ended before I came to a conclusion. I’d never read a long-form story by Paul Hornschemeier before, and it almost felt precariously balanced as I read the first two installments; could the conclusion hold up to the promise? With the solicitation for a collected edition from Dark Horse Comics I found myself wondering if I was holding off too long, and if I should just review the first two parts… now, having read the story in its entirely, I’m glad that I waited.

Thomas Tennant is a very old seven, indeed. He recently lost his mother, and now his father David is slowly losing touch with reality. Thomas finds himself taking messages from his father’s assistant about lectures David Tennant did not show up for, as well as being the self-proclaimed caretaker of the parts of the house and grounds that were traditionally his mother’s. When an ill-timed comment exposes the shell that his father has become, though, Thomas finds himself losing the one person in his family that is still there for him, and slowly his plans begin to take form to make everything better again.

Reading Mother, Come Home serialized across issues #2-4 of Forlorn Funnies was a rewarding experience in its own right; feeling the tension and Thomas’s fears slowly build up as each new issue was released. Reading all three parts together really unlocked the sheer power of Hornschemeier’s story, however, with such strong evokings of loss and regret. Maybe it’s because of the innocence that Hornschemeier gives his protagonist, with his unclear comprehension of what’s going on with his father’s slow disintegration into grief. Maybe it’s the scenes with David Tennant talking to his therapists and his inability to accept his wife’s death. Maybe it’s watching Thomas’s aunt and uncle fumblingly try to help Thomas even as he pulls away. It’s hard to isolate a single reason on why Mother, Come Home works so well, and it’s probably because it’s everything as it all comes together. This is a memoir of grief and loss that will stay with you for a long time.

Hornschemeier’s art is unsurprisingly gorgeous in Mother, Come Home. He draws with such a smooth line, creating his characters so carefully that it’s hard to believe that they aren’t real people. What is especially wonderful about his art in this book is his ability to shift its style to view events through Thomas’s eyes. His childlike drawings actually look like they’re something that seven-year old Thomas would have drawn (instead of an adult trying to act like a kid), but they’re also very telling in the expressions and designs that Thomas assigns to the people in his life. In Mother, Come Home the art is as much part of the story as the words. Even the smaller details are meticulously created here; lettering is a combination of traditional word balloons and narration that floats on the backgrounds, feeling more like you’ve just uncovered a personal journal instead of reading a comic. Last but not least, the colors in these issues of Forlorn Funnies are near-perfect, each shade gentle and inviting to the viewer’s eye. You can tell the amount of care that went into selecting each color, and the end result is fantastic.

If you haven’t been reading Forlorn Funnies, you’re missing out on one of the best independent comics being published. Hornschemeier makes every issue feel like a piece of art in its own right; you’ll definitely want to own them all. While there is a trade paperback of Mother, Come Home scheduled for November, this is a comic where I’d actually recommending buying both the single issues as well as the collection. Each comic is a beauty in its own right, and heck, you can always use them to lend out to friends without (justifiably so) worrying that your so-called friends will fall in love with Mother, Come Home and never return it. Yes, it’s that good. Run, don’t walk to your nearest comic store and demand Forlorn Funnies.

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