One way to look at the upcoming Hobo Mom from Fantagraphics is as a superstar indie comics tag team. It’s a collaboration between Charles Forsman and Belgian cartoonist Max de Radiguès. Forsman has found acclaim with The End of the Fucking World and I Am Not Okay With This, the former also being a BAFTA and Grammy-nominated Netflix series and the latter being developed by the streaming network. De Radiguès has a number of comics titles to his name, most recently Bastard, which took a prize at the 2018 Angoulême International Festival of Comics, and as the writer of the well-received 2016 biography Weegee.
Forsman and de Radiguès first met in 2008 when Forsman attended the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT, and de Radiguès was doing a fellowship there. They first teamed-up when Forsman ran the mini-comics label Oily Comics and in 2011 serialized de Radiguès’ Moose, which was later collected by Conundrum Press. But that isn’t the only collaboration between them.
“We had done a few small things together and always meant to do a book together,” Forsman told me. “I learned a lot from him. I consider him a mentor.”
The two collaborated not just on the story for Hobo Mom, but the art as well. Forsman says their styles “mix quite easy” and they began their long-distance creative partnership by sending drafts of thumbnails to each other and then adjusting along the way.
“I digitally penciled the pages and Max digitally inked them,” Forsman said. “Then I took them back and added halftones. It was really natural. Even though drawing digitally was new for us. It helped to have two sets of eyes passing the pages back and forth.”
Hobo Mom tackles territory that is common for both cartoonist — dysfunctional families. Circling around Tom and his daughter Sissy, who have been abandoned by wife and mother Natasha in order to travel around and hop onto trains, the book examines the emotional reunion of the family when mom returns and her husband and child need to grapple with their own damaged emotional needs weighed against Natasha’s desire for independence. Once broken, can the family find another life as one unit together?
Hobo Mom will be in stores on January 22. Here are the first five pages to check out.