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Mome is a new quarterly
release from Fantagraphics featuring work by some of the best new graphic
artists around. Some of the pieces will be in serial form, and so the
continuations of their stories will appear in future issues. Among the artists
featured in the first issue are Gabrielle Bell, author of When I'm Old and
Other Stories; Kurt Wolfgang; Paul Hornschemeier, author of Forlorn
Funnies; Anders Nilsen, author of Ballad of the Two Headed Boy;
Sophie Crumb; John Pham; Jeffrey Brown, author of Clumsy and AEIOU,
David Heatley, publisher of Deadpan; and Andrice Arp, publisher of Hi-Horse.
Some of the pieces are in black and white, while other are in color, and the
format of different contributions is quite varied, including an interview with
Paul Hornschemeier by Gary Groth.
The first piece in the book, by Bell,
is one of the best. A wealthy man living in an apartment building invites a
young female artist who lives down below him to drink with him. He offers her
cocaine and then suggests that she call in sick at her job in the video store
so she can keep him company. He even offers her all the money in his wallet
for her to do this, which is much more than she would earn by going to work.
But she imagines her life if she accepted his offer, and declines. It is a
subtle piece from a woman's perspective, giving the sense of the options and
choices available to her. All the time, she remains impassive and unimpressed
by the man who treats her with such little respect while still flattering her.
The drawing works very well to enhance the depersonalized sense of her
David Heatley's "Overpeck"
is a more bizarre work, narrated by a girl who is a duck and was forced by her
father to have sex with a dog. She endures the taunts of children and has a
panic attack. The vivid colors and idiosyncratic art make the work really
distinctive, and one could see it as a post-modern surrealism. Jon Pham's "Mildred Lee" crisply drawn and colored in orange and blue,
is equally bizarre, especially because in Mildred's apartment is a guy,
Terrence, sitting on her couch, who looks like he is just sausage cylinder with
legs. He doesn't say much. Mildred needs money and she sneaks into Terrence's
room and gets his piggy bank. The piece is disconcerting because it isn't at
all clear what is going on. Presumably the story will clarify some of its
mysteries in future issues.
The contribution by Anders Nilsen, is one of the most conceptually ambitious, although
it is also very puzzling. Over a background of photographs, simple drawings
show a man puzzling over his existence. He starts talking about his aesthetic
philosophy, yet then he shows that he is unclear about his identity, and he is
slow to explain why he is wearing handcuffs. Then it gets really strange. It
is hard to say what connects the photographs of mountains, city skyscrapers, a
dead forest, and other striking images, or how they illuminate the content of
the text. They do provide a very distinctive feel to the piece though.
Mome is an exciting new
project in comic book art that should make more people aware of the talented
young artists who are doing exciting work. All the work here is good, and some
of it is really memorable. Fantagraphics is doing a great service in putting
this together, and the editors should be congratulated on doing a fine job.
Link: Mome at Fantagraphics
© 2005 Christian Perring. All
Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the
Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology
Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in
medicine, psychiatry and psychology.