"Home Free" Turns One!by GoComics Team
It's been a year since the Szabo family joined GoComics! And what a year it's been: "Home Free" has taken readers on a journey through the hilarious escapades of this family, who have been forced to inhabit their backyard due to numerous home renovations.
Over the past year, we've witnessed the youngest member of the family, Milo, discover that he can—*gasp*—talk to animals! While he emulates Dr. Dolittle and befriends backyard woodland creatures, his older sister Julia takes a couch-surfing crusade around the neighborhood to escape her quirky family. Clumsy Mr. Szabo builds a work-from-home treehouse space (and unsuccessfully avoids renovation-related accidents), and Mrs. Szabo does her best to maintain some semblance of "normal" family life.
We had the privilege of catching up with Toro as the feature reaches its first birthday; he reflects on the Szabo family's adventures so far and hints at what's ahead.
Congratulations on one year of "Home Free"! What have been some highlights of the journey so far?
A major highlight has been watching the characters grow in unexpected ways. That's when you know the comic strip has really taken on a life of its own. Milo, Julia, and the whole Szabo family have surprised me constantly, which is something that I never could have anticipated when I first started drawing them a year ago.
Another highlight has been the actual drawing itself. I'm so much more comfortable sketching, inking, and coloring the scenes. It's very gratifying to hone the techniques for making each strip feel alive and vibrant, and to keep pushing myself artistically.
Have the strip and any of its characters evolved throughout the year? If so, how?
Definitely! Who knew that Milo would summon the courage to stand before the Supreme Council of Critters? Who knew that Julia would tell the spookiest stories around the campfire? Who knew that their parents would communicate to each other via tin can telephone? The Szabo family have adapted to the fallout of their endsless home renovation in a manner that's both amazing and stupefying. I thank them sincerely for providing me with constant comedic fodder.
What are some memorable responses you've received from GoComics readers and how does this feedback influence your work?
"I feel seen!" is always the best response that a creator can get. So far, readers have reacted to the family's home renovation disaster by sharing with me stories of their own remodeling misadventures (which I've tucked away as possible inspiration for future strips!). Also, nature lovers have said they particularly enjoy Milo's enthusiasm for the outdoors.
While I think it's vitally important to follow your own instincts as an artist, "Home Free" is something that I create for readers to enjoy and identify with, and their positive feedback is what gives me the encouragement to keep going. (Please keep those renovation horror stories coming!)
Have any of your personal experiences made their way into "Home Free" this year?
Here's a hint: my kid and I enjoy making up silly songs while roasting marshmallows.
Are there any story arcs or specific strips you've created that hold a special place in your heart?
It's so hard to choose! Basically, I'm a huge dork. So whenever I can pull off a terrible pun, or do a Weird Al impersonation, those are special moments for me. (The highest compliment is when someone says, "It's so bad it's good.") Be on the lookout for more cringe-worthy dad jokes next year!
As "Home Free" turns one, are there any plans or surprises you have in store for readers?
The kids are going back to school! (Technically, in the world of the comic, they were attending school this past year, too. But I chose not to address it directly while I focused on establishing the family and their "home" life.) It will be very entertaining to see how Milo and Julia navigate academia and attempt to either conceal (in Julia's case) or flaunt (in Milo's) their unique living situation.
Do you think you can camp out in your backyard for a year?
I'm a method cartoonist. I've been camping out in my backyard this whole time—and I'll stay here as long as "Home Free" lasts!