Comics

Mother, Come Home

Mike Martens

When our order crumbles, we rely on external constructs, masks, to protect us not only from the encroaching world around us but also from our own minds.

Mother, Come Home

Publisher: Dark Horse (originally published by Absence of Ink)
Length: 128
Price: $14.99
Item Type: Comic
Publication Date: 2004-01
Amazon

How the Lion Lost Its Pride

If I am to trust my Saturday afternoon forays with nature documentaries on television, the basic survival of a pride of lions is reliant on its lionesses. While the males sit around acting as figureheads, the females hunt, raise the youth and, in general, do all the work. Even if the males exude order and principle from their heavy manes, it is the lioness that acts out that essence, turning it into something tangible. In short, the lioness gives the pride its worth.

Of course, you're not reading this review for secondhand zoology lessons. The cover of Mother, Come Home, however, is adorned with a solitary, lion's head doorknocker. This is our entrance to the imagery of this collected edition of the first stor arch in Paul Hornschemeier's Forlorn Funnies series, and so it seems to me a fitting place to begin.

To wax on PBS and the animal kingdom for just a second more, then… If the lionesses were removed, the pride would be doomed even though its symbols of social and political order held their place. At least, that would be the case if the pride were unable to adapt.

At the center of Mother, Come Home is a human father and son who (as the book's title suggests) have lost their lioness. Despite their greatest efforts to adapt, their love prevents them from moving beyond the old order of things. From the book's opening pages, we see into the fantastical psychosis of the father as he drifts across a desolate landscape searching for her. The shadowed sea in this search reflects the father's consumption by the darkness in his mind. He is unable to accept a permanent separation from his wife and wanders into the void of depression because of it.

While the father aimlessly floats through sorrow, his elementary-school-aged son, Thomas, has been given a role to play. Before her death, his mother presented Thomas with a plastic lion mask; after her passing, the mask's air-brushed mane becomes Thomas' authority. At first, Thomas simply takes command of the lioness duties of his mother, viewing himself as groundskeeper for the family residence. The mask gives him his purpose, but Thomas discovers over time that he is not fit to be a lioness. At one point, we see his mother's grave thickly coated in grass, and then the garden Thomas has taken the responsibility for, withered and muddy. Thomas' intended provision for his father takes similar course. Even when he picks up the role of the male lion, leading his father through the wilderness, Thomas is forced to realize that real authority still remains in the errant mind of his father. The mask is only a mask. His role was only play… something to let his mind survive the inevitable dissolution of the family he found so much pride in.

Hornschemeier presents the story to us with exceptional command of a dull color palette, bringing bright emphasis to Thomas' mask as it guides us through the tragic epilogue of a family or, as the author frames it, the prologue to life of Thomas Tennant. Visually, the book is saturated with careful imagery (something Hornschemeier winks at in "The Garden" vignette where we see a book titled Evolving Symbols on a shelf), and Hornschemeier is, occasionally, deftly verbose in analysis of the rudimentary emotions of the characters.

Mother, Come Home is on one level an argument that although it is in our nature to build close families, it is absent in that nature to deal with the collapse of those units. When our order crumbles, we rely on external constructs, masks, to protect us not only from the encroaching world around us but also from our own minds.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image