The Incredible Story of Two Moms in Love: A Motherlover Review

Motherlover is a webcomic by Lindsay Ishihiro about two moms from very different worlds who will eventually fall in love. It will be published in print by Iron Circus Comics in 2023, but is free to read online, updating at the rate of one full-color page a week.

Motherlover

Lindsay Ishihiro
Iron Circus Comics
2023

cover page of motherlover by lindsay ishihiro

Motherlover stands out among queer webcomics not just because of the unusual subject matter, but also because of the incredible level of technical skill and attention to detail put into it.

The story follows Imogen, a stay-at-home mother of four who had her first child in college and is now struggling to find a new direction now that all of her kids are in school; and Alex, a single mom and professional cellist who moved back to her hometown after the death of her parents. Their lives and experiences are very different, but they bond quickly as next door neighbors and moms whose children are the same age.

panel from chapter 1 page 16 where imogen says "we're both kinda not good at this making friends stuff, huh?"
They have so much in common!

As the story unfolds, other tensions in Imogen and Alex’s lives come to the surface: Alex is dealing with the complicated feelings left by her parents’ deaths, while Imogen’s suspicious that her husband is hiding financial difficulties from her. The subplots of Motherlover help create a full, rich world beyond the slow build of the romance.

There’s only six and a half chapters out so far, so I don’t know how much of the story is still to be published, but so far Alex seems to be getting most of the character development and backstory. We’re introduced to many of Alex’s friends and connections, while on Imogen’s side we’ve only met her husband and her children. I want to see more of Imogen’s backstory beyond what she tells Alex in conversations. Maybe we just haven’t gotten to that yet, though.

I’m not a mom myself, but I have been quarantined with my single mom and seven-year-old half sister for the past few months, so I have some idea of what parenting small children is like. It’s clear Motherlover is written from experience, which makes sense given that this comic is a spin-off of Ishihiro’s autobiographical webcomic about motherhood, How Baby. If my mom read comics at all I would probably recommend this to her.

Most of the queer webcomics I can think of off the top of my head are about teenagers, or college students, or hip single twenty-somethings. It’s rare to see a webcomic discuss parenting at all, much less how raising a child intersects with that identity. Motherlover brings a different and valuable perspective to the webcomics scene.

The real highlight of Motherlover is the art. Each page is beautifully drawn, colored, and lettered. The lettering impressed me the most. I love how dreamy and languid the long, winding balloon tails are, and how easily they can be twisted to emphasize the emotion in a scene. It’s rare to see a webcomic with this much consideration for the word balloons.panels from chapter 6 page 11 of Motherlover in which the word balloon tails are used to highlight how cold and stressed Imogen is.

Also, the backgrounds. The author’s notes at the bottom of each upload with a new background in it complain about drawing them, but it really pays off because they look awesome. So many of the webcomics I read have phoned-in backgrounds relying on stock photos or generic pre-made models, but the environments in Motherlover feel distinct and personal and real, like places I could see in the outside world.

panels from chapter 3 page 2 of motherlover, showing the interior of a quirky cafe
Every time I look at this page I just think “wow!”

Motherlover is just so pretty. Every page is a joy to look at, and a pleasure to read. I recommend this slow burn story for any fan of romance or slice-of-life comics.

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