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Some artists don't settle for a single success and continue to seek new outlets for their talent. Tom Toro is no different. You might remember him from our last post where we featured some of his single-panel cartoons. Today, we're thrilled to present you with Tom’s adorable comic series, ‘Home Free.’ This series is quite different from his other works, featuring heartwarming situations in the lives of kids, particularly the main character, Milo Szabo, who discovers the world together with his friends—both human and animal—adding even more cuteness to the series.

We wanted to learn more about this wholesome series directly from its creator. That's why we reached out to Tom, who kindly answered our questions. First, the artist shared the inspiration behind 'Home Free': “The genesis of ‘Home Free’ began during the pandemic. We were holed up at home with our 5-year-old boy, desperate for ways to entertain ourselves without becoming totally addicted to screens, so I dug up my old collections of Calvin and Hobbes comics. Over the next year, we probably read them from beginning to end a dozen times. It was pure joy. Experiencing the comic anew through the eyes of my kid, while discovering a deeper appreciation for it from a parental vantage point, was revelatory. I had always wanted to create a comic strip, but this rekindled my desire to give it a shot, and I was very lucky to find a creative partner in Andrews McMeel to develop the concept of what would become ‘Home Free.’”

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Then, the cartoonist shared some insights into the recurring themes in his series: “The major theme is facing hardship but overcoming it as a family. The Szabos, my resourceful but often ridiculous heroes, face an uncertain future when their home renovation goes completely awry. This sense of precarity, of existing in a constant state of flux, but somehow summoning the spirit to persevere, is at the heart of the comic. We live in an age of deep economic anxiety. I'm a millennial: the first generation of Americans in recent memory to have a worse financial forecast than our parents. Housing in particular is unaffordable, or at best a crushing burden. In Home Free, I try to tap into these recognizable anxieties, while hopefully offering some comic relief.”

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Mimi La Souris
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

lucky ones... I miss my little cornerof nature, now everything is tarred and my little stream became underground before arriving in the sewers

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Asked how he comes up with ideas for new comics, Tom said: “It all stems from character. Each family member copes with their situation in a different way. Milo, the youngest child, feels liberated by the demolition of their home. He loves the outdoors and befriends the local wildlife in a neighboring nature area, leading to all kinds of feral adventures. While Julia, his older sister, is utterly mortified by the debacle and does everything she can to distance herself from her embarrassing family. Their dad, Mr. Szabo, is an irrepressible optimist and tries to put a positive spin on the chaos. But his reckless attempts to hurry the home renovation along only result in further delays. Mrs. Szabo is the glue of the family, the voice of (exasperated) reason, who struggles to maintain a degree of normalcy in their absurd circumstances. Every comic I create starts with these characters as a basis, and I do my best to listen to where they want to take the story next.”

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We were curious about the artist’s approach to character design. Toro told us: “‘Home Free’ gave me the wonderful opportunity to grow artistically. I wanted to experiment with a looser style for the comic, something kinetic and bold, since it involves hectic situations in a tumultuous context. Demolition; destruction; reconstruction; messiness; adventure. I wanted to give myself permission to make mistakes, to spill some ink, to draw crooked lines, to ditch my tendency for perfectionism and replace it with an embrace of error. I wanted everything to feel a bit like a work in progress: these characters are in the midst of finding out who they really are, as their home is collapsing around them but also being sporadically rebuilt. I wanted that aura of experimentation, risk, and freedom, to imbue the characters and their world.”

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I AM A LOLLY SNEK (she/her)
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2 weeks ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

We will eat until someone tells us not to. Well, mainly the younger kids, 10 and under.

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J K
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I never knew I needed a hamster wheel in my life.

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Lastly, we were curious about what Tom considers the most rewarding aspect of being a comic artist. The creator of ‘Home Free’ explained: “Creating comics every week that get viewed by tens of thousands of readers is deeply, deeply rewarding. Knowing that my characters are resonating with an audience, that my drawings are a joyful part of people's daily lives, is genuinely a dream come true. And since the Szabos' house doesn't look like it'll be rebuilt anytime soon, there will be lots more Home Free comics to come!”

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Auntriarch
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This was me and my brother. And the vibe is still there, if not the exact circumstances...

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Kimm Goding
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I always thought it was "Tic Tac Toe" I couldn't wait to see what they used for that lol. But I think I missed that one.

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Danish Susanne
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I do hope snakes are not aware of how many people hate them simply for being snakes.

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Danish Susanne
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2 weeks ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I live a mostly happy life, but often I also feel like my head is hidden somewhere not in the close proximity.

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