Mother, Come Home

By Paul Hornschemeier (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-56097-973-9

Back in print and in a magnificent deluxe hardback lending it even more gentle gravitas is Paul Hornschemeier’s dreamily magnetic exploration of grief and coping mechanisms. Mother, Come Home originally ran in the marvelous indie publication Forlorn Funnies before being gathered into a lyrically stunning collection in 2004. Now Fantagraphics have produced this beautiful edition of one of the best, most emotionally complex and graphically symbolic tales ever to grace our medium.

Tom is a seven year old boy whose mother has just died. His father, a deeply intellectual college professor of symbolic logic, slowly retreats into a nervous collapse and young Tom assumes the household duties – as much as he is able – bolstered by his love and sense of duty, as well as the innate half-word of fantasy that is the rightful domain of the very young.

Empowered by a dime-store lion-mask his mother bought him he becomes the head of his diminished clan and guardian of the home until his aunt and uncle discover how ill his father has become.

When his father voluntarily commits himself to an institution, Tom goes to live with them, but dreams of reuniting with his real family, even planning a meticulous escape and joyous reunion. But when he takes action the consequences are painfully revelatory, inevitably tragic and hauntingly real…

Rendered in a number of simple, powerful styles, with a mesmeric, muted colour palette binding ostensibly neutral images (that nevertheless burn with a highly charged intensity) with a simplified heavy line, this subtle, seductive, domestic tragedy is a perfect example of how our medium can so powerfully layer levels of meaning and abstract a personal reality until it becomes greater than itself.

Deeply moving, monstrously deep and overwhelmingly simple, Mother, Come Home is a true classic and stands comfortably beside such noteworthy novels as Maus, Barefoot Gen, Stuck Rubber Baby, Pride of Baghdad or Persepolis. This is a comic nobody could ever be embarrassed about reading, but they should feel ashamed if they haven’t…

© 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009 Paul Hornschemeier. All Rights Reserved.