The story follows a young sailor, Husk, as he washes up on a secluded Pacific island during WW2 after his boat is torpedoed. Once on the island, Husk finds the horrors of war have followed him and learns firsthand how it can cloud the minds of those who wage it.
My family is full of Navy Veterans so this title was on my radar, and my appreciation for what Alterna does as an Indie Publisher made reviewing this title a rare treat. Dan Hill provides a limited script for this book, however, it perfectly captures the emotions echoed by many of the Veterans I have spoken to about their experiences in combat. The story reads smoothly, as a man’s mind is stretched to the point of breaking, somewhat akin to a letter home. Having read such letters from my family I was immediately drawn to the moments where Mr. Hill shows cognitive latency as Husk corrects or modifies his own narration by striking out portions of text only to replace them. The book’s opening and closing at the train stop gave us a definitive wrap up, which is strikingly different from we comic readers are accustomed. We are generally in the second act for years.
Andrew Herbst handles the art for Go Home opting for strict black and white. The noir approach seems more than fitting for such a dark and somber story. I hesitate to call the art style simplified as it would seem to be hyper critical, but it fits. The art simply fits symbiotically with the script. They both take you were the story intends and I feel they do so while paying or perhaps lending an increase respect to our Veterans. I began this review at the end of the Thanksgiving season and in reading this title I found myself looking at the sacrifices given by those who have served with even greater esteem. I cannot think of a higher level of praise.
I contacted Mr. Hill and he graciously offered to give us a creator’s take on Go Home. Our quick question and answer session follows:
- First can you give us a brief bio including any other work you have done and anything fans can expect from you in the future?
Sure. I’ve written mostly shorts up until this point including some up online over at Challenger Comics, as well as contributing a story to the Eisner nominated ‘To End All Wars’. I’m also an editor, working on titles for Monkeybrain Comics and ComiXtribe.
- What gave birth to Go Home?
Like most stories, Go Home has a number of different factors making up its origin. When I first had the notion of writing comics I wanted to write this grandiose multi-part epic about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. It was a beginner’s folly, but I did do a lot of research, turning up tales of madness, hunger and paranoia amongst those in the water. That idea of sailors and marines battling against the elements, as well as each other stuck with me.
There are a number of other influences such as the unproduced Coen adaptation of ‘On The White Sea’, the Lee Marvin movie ‘Hell In The Pacific’ and even the Askold Akishin comic ‘Snow’. I’d probably say old back issues of Commando played their part in the comic’s inception too.
- Can you describe the rationale for choosing WWII as the setting?
I think it was two factors, really. The influences I mentioned, plus growing up listening to stories of various battles from World War 2 has given me a genuine interest in the era. But, mostly it was the idea there are some aspects of WW2 that are not often discussed. One example would be America’s treatment of its American-Japanese citizens and their subsequent internment. I think that aspect of the conflict, that mindset, is incredibly timely. It made sense to me to set it during that era as a way of illuminating the present.
- I enjoyed the narration of the book, especially the hesitancy shown graphically by crossing out sections of text. This really lends itself, in my opinion, to the overall psychology of the protagonist. Can you discuss this choice?
Oddly enough, I think this came from having my awkward teenage years occur online. Yeah, I’m talking about Livejournal (Google it, youngsters). Often when people would post things they’d be mini-confessionals. Some users would use the ‘strike through’ option on the text to cross out elements of their posts to make a point, usually as a hint at what they really thought.
There was also an issue of Jason Aaron and R.M Guera’s Scalped that included a conversation between the protagonist, Dash,and Carol. In the run up to this issue a *lot* of horrid things had happened to both characters. Aaron employed this device whereby the conversation was occurring but at the same time each character was shown to be thinking something else entirely in thought balloons. It was simple and clever and always stuck with me.
Also, when it came to the captions for ‘Go Home’ I knew they’d in the form of a letter Husk was writing to his father. He’s doing this whilst on a secluded island. There’s not a whole lot of paper, and Husk’s mindset isn’t exactly stable. There’d be a lot of mistakes. I wanted to use those mistakes to hint at Husk’s real motivations.
- I’m a sucker for the noir feel. What made you decide on black and white?
I’d spotted Andrew’s work on another war comic, ‘Wolves of Summer’, which was also in black and white. There’s something about his work that really pops in that format. Plus, I think black and white immediately evokes a certain kind of mood, as well as subliminally placing the events of the story in some kind of distant past.
- Given current events do you feel a resurgence of “War comics?”
You’d think so, right? I hope it’s the case. I think the last few years have shown us just how war has changed, as well as the repercussions of the West’s involvement in the ‘War on Terror’. We’ve also seen an erosion of civil liberties back home too, and a shift in attitudes politically across most of Europe and now the U.S.
I feel there’s enough…material for want of a better word for there to be lots more war comics covering some of the aspects we’re only just coming face to face with. The intersection of technology and combat, proxy wars, propaganda and social media, the list is endless. I feel the conditions are there for *more* war comics to be made. Whether that will come to pass or not is another thing.
Written by: Dan Hill
Art by: Andrew Herbst