Mother, Come Home

Created by: Paul Hornschemeier

Published by: Fantagraphics

ISBN: 1560979739 (Amazon)

Pages: 128

Genre: Drama, Illness

Sample Pages

Mother, Come Home

It has to be a hard decision for an author to begin a book with something that moves in the direction of North-by-North-Impenetrable. Especially when the rest of the book is engaging and enjoyable. And moreso when the author hopes to secure readers.

(Those who don’t write to be read are more than welcome to make not just their introduction but their entire book a roadblock to diligent readers.)

Personally, I’m working on a novel and the first chapter is a bit… high concept. And therefore, a bit obnoxious to the casual reader. It’s important that it be this way, of course, but I do worry that those who might otherwise love the book will be turned off by its introduction. It was keeping that in mind that helped me through the introductory pages of Hornschemeier’s Mother, Come Home.

Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier

Mother, Come Home's opening set is a bit oblique and I feared I had picked up another bout of art comix childishness, that kind of book where you feel like you’re spending time with a stereotypical high school theatre student (something infantile like Monologues for the Coming Plague, perhaps*). Hornschemeier continues on like this for six pages and by the fifth I had almost gotten into the flow of what he was doing. I was even able to sort of appreciate it. But I absolutely did not want to read 128 pages in the same vein, so turning that seventh page was like a boon from heaven. As if God in his wisdom had known exactly how much I could take and inspired Hornschemeier to rein it in at exactly the right moment.

Of course later, according to the ordo apocalypsis, I came to deeply appreciate what Hornschemeier does in his opening. This is because Mother, Come Home is a Very Good Book.

Mother, Come Home by Paul HornschemeierFig. 2: “My mother loved to give presents.”

It won’t be revealing too much to say that Mother, Come Home deals with some heavy topics (as seen in figure 2, above). Told largely through the eyes of a child, the reader gets a rare sense of a very difficult set of extraordinary circumstances. Hornschemeier gradually unveils his narrative topography, controlling revelation in a way that should satisfy most readers, leaving them both affected by the story told and conscious that literature was absorbed.

One of Mother, Come home's great charms is Hornschemeier’s artwork throughout. His work is clean, uncluttered. I have seen more than one review compare him to Chris Ware, and while I cannot know how indebted the present author is to one of the obvious luminaries of the medium, common ground is aptly noted. Even beyond the book’s muted palette, which recalls Ware’s work in the nineteenth-century portion of Jimmy Corrigan, his panel focuses and strong linework evoke Ware’s own. And of course the submerged tone, hollow of emotion by its very flood of emotion, is also evocative of Jimmy Corrigan (which some may characterize as a stoic sort of work).

Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier

Mother, Come Home is a work deserving reflection. Hornschemeier has filled his pages with mysteries of life, some demanding interpretation, others commandeering their own liberty from such shackles. In many ways I feel inadequate to speak for it, having only read the book once so far. I am going to rectify this lapse.

*note: if you are Anders Nilsen, we can just shake hands and believe that I didn’t understand.

 

Good Ok Bad features reviews of comics, graphic novels, manga, et cetera using a rare and auspicious three-star rating system. Point systems are notoriously fiddly, so here it's been pared down to three simple possibilities:

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I am Seth T. Hahne and these are my reviews.

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