March 15, 2006

Grief Visualized

I picked up Paul Hornschemeier's Mother, Come Home mainly in order to add to our very short list of graphic novels, but I was surprised and touched by this quick-reading gem of a story.

I was first attracted by the spare, flat, simply-colored drawing style that reminded me immediately of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. The melancholy, introspective tone also seemed a nod to Ware's graphic novel classic. However, where Hornschemeier really comes into his own is that he is taking a cryptic look back at an autobiographical event--the tragic loss of his mother when he was seven--and turning it into something that is beautiful, almost poetic, both visually and verbally. It has the feel of an older writer looking back on his childhood, but it also captures the sensation of a young boy who doesn't yet fully understand death or grieving. There's a feeling of distance, of numbness, conveyed in the spare writing and muted color palette, making the unexpected ending all the more shocking.

This didn't take long to read, but I found myself flipping back through it again, just to think and absorb and appreciate the hidden depths that lurk between the words and images. An excellent example of what the graphic novel form can accomplish. Just keep a tissue box nearby.

1 comment:

tanita s. davis said...

It sounds beautiful and actually very Japanese somehow, that pairing of grief and beauty and poetic function. Very cool for graphic YA-ers, and somewhat different than what I've come to expect from the graphic novel entirely.