Updated: Jul 10, 2021
Writer: Julio Anta
Illustrator: Anna Wieszczyk
WHAT IS IT?
This drama-oriented comic grounded in unforgiving realism merges with the superhero genre. Home #1 paints an unflinching look at American immigration policies and its devastating effects on both individuals and families.
Think of the mother-and-son dynamics in both the bestselling novel, American Dirt and the Netflix superhero drama, Raising Dion.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Young Juan and his mother, Mercedes Gomez, journey through Guatemala City, dreams of asylum in sight as they approach the U.S.-Mexican border. Unfortunately, the U.S. President's new "zero tolerance" policy for immigrants throws an unprecedented roadblock in their path to asylum. Unfair sanctions, cruel authority figures, and apathetic prison guards imperil Juan and Mercedes.
How will the mother-and-son migrants manage the tragic consequences of the family separation policy at the border? How are superpowers intertwined into the narrative?
Julio Anta writes from a personalized angle within the comic medium – without having previously ever written in a comic format beyond a few self-published shorts – to speak bluntly about the difficulties of immigration.
Anta heavily researched locations around Guatemala City and the U.S.-Mexico border, providing artist Anna Wieszczyk with reference photographs. Wieszczyk replicates these settings, including the horrific "Icebox," in a stylized format. Accordingly, her artistic talents further the atmosphere of authenticity Home induces.
Colorist Bryan Valenza ensures readers discern the ominous tone of the narrative through solid tinted colors in the background or in scenic panels. Conversely, Valenza colors the human characters with vibrant shades, strengthening the comics' theme of showcasing the sheer humanity of these migrants.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou cranks up the intensity level to 100% in his lettering choices. Otsmane-Elhaou illustrates screams of grief in thick orange letters vibrating on the page. He even slants the letters toward the direction of the separating speakers in corresponding speech balloons in a moment that will strike your heart with emotion.
While Home #1 preludes a dive into the superhero genre during the rest of the miniseries, this issue stands alone as a stalwart and sonorous portrayal of the immigrant experience and lasting repercussions of the family separation policy.
Home #1 is a comic that begs you to feel. Hopeful dialogue spoken by Theresa to her son as they travel to the border and illustrations showing a wide-eyed Theresa holding Juan in her arms in a vehicle are achingly remindful of reality.
The places, items, and outfits Wieszczyk illustrates are not merely cosmetic. The portrait of the former President on the wall or the composition work inside the holding facility unilaterally present the devastating reality the characters encounter.
Wieszczyk's artistic depiction of body language and facial demeanors – as well as Valenza's coloring choices – are an incisive means to elevating the fervor behind Anta's dialogue.
Letterer Otsmane-Elhaou's weightier, orange-hued letters deftly delineate the language barrier between the American Border Patrol agents and the Mexican immigrants. This lettering decision astutely accentuates the dissonance between the cultures.
Not once does the comic make light of the situation. Anta's writing is unrelenting, challenging readers to see the lives of these people as they presently exist.
Home succeeds in every category of craft, but exceptionally in its characterization. The dialogue, art, and lettering veritably present how physical impediments only strengthen the emotional fidelity of a mother and son facing separation.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Home reads almost like a newspaper article from the last few years. Because the main plot about immigration and border captivity includes depictions torn directly from present-day reality, the comic can be a difficult read for those impacted or emotionally invested in this ongoing plight.
Because of the increasing immigration control regulations, the practice of migrant parents sending their children across the border alone has become more common. Home was written before this current year of 2021. Thus, the exact scenario of a mother and her son trying to seek asylum together proves less timely, but still massively important to remember in the long-term.
The basic premise of this issue is laid out in any synopsis you'll find about Home. As such, this first issue delivers exactly what it promised without further expansion yet. Essentially, Home #1 establishes significant character introductions with the final "twist" – already known to most who have heard about Home – pledging further plot development later on.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Home should be read by like-minded individuals, but also by people unsure about the reality of immigration at the border. The comic is a difficult read because of its subject matter, which makes it an imperative piece of writing. Anta sheds light on politics, the "zero tolerance" policy, and the heartbreaking ramifications sprouted from immigrant family separation at the border.
Nevertheless, Anta and the creative team convey these hot-button issues accessibly. Children who read Home will find intimacy with Juan. Mothers will feel companionship and relation with Theresa's vital desire to provide for her son. This comic series could motivate crucial discussions about these very real issues between parents and their children.
Home #1 should not spark political divisive controversy, but should instead incite conversations. Anta is a Latinx voice giving a Latinx young boy a voice in the comic medium. The five-part Home miniseries promises to be heuristic, teaching about trauma, aggrievances, and interpersonal relationship dynamics to an all-ages audience.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Penultiman by Tom Peyer & Alan Robinson
Power Pack: Grow Up #1 by Louise Simonson & June Brigman
UltraMax by Doug Wood & Michael Pickard
If you like the art:
Lucid by Michael McMillian & Anna Wieszczyk
John Doe #1 by Haigen Shelley & Anna Wieszczyk
Project Patron by Steve Orlando & Patrick Piazzalunga
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Julio Anta – Writer (@JulioAnta)
The Latinx writer is from a Cuban and Colombian family, and has authored many short stories, focusing heavily on the intersection of Latinx identity and American life.
Home is his debut comic series, and his YA graphic novel, Frontera, is set to be published by HarperCollins in 2023.
Multitalented: Julio also runs a DIY record label entitled, The Native Sound.
Anna Wieszczyk – Illustrator (@wiescyk)
Anna is a comic book illustrator whose work has appeared in over a dozen comics.
She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Katowice, in the graphic design department.
Although she specializes mostly in illustration and comics, Anna has some experience with traditional media.
Bryan Valenza – Colorist (@BryanValenza)
Bryan has worked as a comic book colorist since 2013, featured in comics by several comic companies, such as Marvel, DC, Image, AfterShock, Valiant, and BOOM!, to name a few.
Outlander: Bryan hails from Indonesia.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou – Letterer (@HassanOE)
Award Winner: He is the editor of the PanelxPanel digital magazine, which has won an Eisner Award. He also hosts the YouTube channel series, Strip Panel Naked and is passionate about sharing lettering techniques and information.
Prolific: Hassan has worked on over twenty comic series, despite only entering the comic industry in 2016.
Outlander: Hassan hails from England and occasionally creates films.
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