At a slim 66 pages, Hobo Mom can seem a little underwhelming as a graphic novel, given that most mainstream comics are about twice the size. However, as the old adage goes, one should never judge a book by its cover — or, in this case, its thickness. Sure, it’s cliche, but that is beside the point. In a fraction of the pages of a typical graphic novel, this story packs an unquestionable emotional wallop leaving its readers with one contextually complex story of heartache.
Hobo Mom follows the story of Natasha, a homeless mother who returns home to her estranged family. After many years apart, the wayward matriarch seeks to mend the past with her embittered husband and rekindle a relationship with her daughter, Sissy. Disguised as a friend of the family, Natasha begins to fashion a strong bond with her young child, much to the displeasure of her spouse, who still harbours a chip on his shoulder. However, as the family begins to come together as it once was, Natasha cannot help but feel drawn to escape the life she has just returned to.
The strength of the narrative rests not on what is provided in the story, but on what is missing from it. While a lack of exposition can in many situations contribute to confusion on the part of the audience, it works to the strength of Hobo Mom, enriching the overall experience for its readers. Part of what enlivens the tale is coming up with your own theories and ideas surrounding the origins and motives of each of the story’s characters.
Another one of its strengths lies in its three main characters, all of whom help make the reading experience both balanced and captivating. We can enjoy different levels of perspicacity as they focus on each character’s story arc coming full circle. Interactions between the story’s leads are poignant and tender, serving as a strong reason for the comic’s success.
Most engrossing of all, Hobo Mom explores the implication surrounding the right for all of us to be happy, and how this concept is inherently problematic. Through its pages, we can see firsthand the proof that happiness comes at great personal sacrifice — a price not as easily paid as some would have you believe.
It’s short and bittersweet; Charles Forsman and Max de Radigues have put together an engrossing and emotionally draining masterstroke of fiction. Chalk full of near-infinite depth and complexity, Hobo Mom might look like a graphic novel to pass up, when in actuality it is worthy of remembrance well after its final page.