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September 25, 2007

CR Review: Mome Fall 2007 (Volume 9)


Creators: Ray Fenwick, Tim Hensley, Al Columbia, Eleanor Davis, Jim Woodring, Gabrielle Bell, Andrice Arp, Joe Kimball, Mike Scheer, Tom Kacynski, Brian Evenson, Zak Sally, Kurt Wolfgang, Paul Hornschemeier, Sophie Crumb
Publishing Information: Fantagraphics, soft cover, 128 pages, August 2007, $14.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781560978725 (ISBN13)

imageThis is the first issue of the Fantagraphics mostly young cartoonists anthology MOME that I can remember not being noticeably better than the issue that preceded it. I think it's therefore fair to say that this issue perhaps more than most is an indication of the MOME we're likely to see from now on. You can kind of see the building process: a Zap-like collection of cartoonists in the early issues, adjustments to a looser more modular style as some cartoonists couldn't keep up and some cartoonists' career headed away from being able to use something like MOME to their best advantage, the use of some sublimely singular world cartoonists whose short work didn't have a home in North America as both a transitional element and a rallying point around which the other cartoonists involved could cluster, and finally the emergence of a new wave of cartoonists who can perhaps better take advantage of the regular showcase than some of those originally invited.

The best comics from the non-headliners come from Eleanor Davis and Tom Kaczynski, two of the relative newcomers. Davis blends some of the measure soap opera observations of her earlier work with a terrifying moment or two reminiscent of her more recent, exquisitely designed fables to fine effect. Kaczynski's 976 square feet slinks between multiple ideas about the modern urban neighborhood in a way that creates considerable thematic depth; it's the only comic in the issue I've read multiple times. This issue of MOME also boasts more great work by cover artist Jim Woodring, although one cut in half between this issue and next, perhaps by edict of the artist, which is a terrible way to experience a single Woodring comic, so dependent on establishing mood and building on previous moments. Al Columbia's two-pager is more dependent on subtle effects of design than maybe most are use to seeing from his work, but spotlighting a cartoonist's secondary or tertiary strength is something anthologies have traditionally done, and done well. Gabrielle Bell's one-pager "Nightmare Rescue" may be the best single page of comics in the issue, and both Tim Hensley and Kurt Wolfgang provide comics with amusing moments made memorable by choice in style and presentation.

I like MOME; even as it's cast about for an identity there's always been at least one or two works of note. Now there are several, and although there's still some work to come in perfecting its presentation, it's now crossed the threshold where I'm having a hard time imagining my comics reading life without it.

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