PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

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

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.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.