March 2006

Carrie Jones

fiction

Mome: Fall 2005 edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds

The summer 2005 issue of Mome was an exciting collection of narrative indie comics favorites like Chester Brown and Gabrielle Bell and a smattering of experimental offerings by artists like by Anders Nilsen and Tim Hensley. The fall issue of Mome is a shorter book, with a very similar line-up of artists and stories, but it falls short of the example set by Mome's previous installment.

Many of the comics that started in Mome: Summer 2005 are continued in this book. Standout serials like "Overpeck" by David Heatley, a psychedelic story of abuse and magic, and "Life With Mr. Dangerous" by Paul Hornschemeier, a slow take on twenty-something loneliness, really carry this volume. One positive addition to Fall 2005 are the faux-advertisements by Tim Hensley. They have a bombastic Mad Magazine feel and the bright colors recall the pulpy glory of back-of-the-book comics' advertisements, but below the exclamation points and silly ad-speak, something sinister lurks.

The disappointments of Mome: Fall 2005 come from the same artists who had interesting pieces in Summer 2005. "Toughskins '77" by Kurt Wolfgang is a nasty little series of incest jokes whose kiddie characters look like mutant squirrels. Jonathan Bennett's "Pins and Needles" is navel-gazing at its most boring, though the drawing is clean and pretty and his incidental drawings throughout the book are cute and effect a strange nostalgic. Gabrielle Bell's "Happy Fuckin' Birthday" is about social confusion and awkwardness and is uncharacteristically forgettable. The interview, a part of the Mome structure, is with Bell and while the drawings they include with the text are awesome (including a few panels from her great comic "Cecil and Jordan in New York" published in Kramer's Ergot 5), the interview falls flat.

Strangely, evil punk rockers seem to be a theme in this volume. "Happy Fuckin' Birthday" features mean mohawked party crashers; Sophie Crumb, who often focuses on the characters of the West Coast street punk lifestyle, offers two uninspired stories: one about a punk urban legend and one about an uptight vegan chick with a punch line you can see coming from the first panel. Crumb's story "Tanya" in Summer is a great example of graphic biography and she seems to focus better when she steps away from her usual territory.

Andrice Arp's "The Jewels of the Sea" and "Cormorant Feathers" end the respective volumes of Mome. These beautiful blue-toned interpretations of Japanese folktales transport us far from parties and park benches and into a world apart. The strong female lead character is a surprise and her plight is a nice fantasy to dip into after all the comics that require a bit of self-identification to enjoy.

Mome has certainly got a great group of artists together for their compilations so far. Hopefully the Fall 2005 volume was just an example of sophomore slump, and the editors will get the best from these artists for the next volume and maybe throw in a few newbies to raise the stakes.

Mome: Fall 2005 edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds
Fantagraphics Books
ISBN: 1560976845