Review by Graham Johnstone
This is the seventh paperback book anthology of new comics from the esteemed Fantagraphics. It’s shifted here from ‘slice of life’ to dreams and mysteries.
David Heatley adapts some more dreams in his mock-childish style. The first is set in an ‘Office Building’ and has a nice large architectural view (like Chris Ware) of the glass walled building, complete with visible elevator, escalator, atrium and mezzanine. His second ventures into the same disturbing areas as ‘Overpeck’ serialised in earlier issues.
Andrice Arp gives us a dream about a ‘Hollow Leg’, and one where she thinks she’s still asleep. Sophie Crumb’s ‘Lucid Nightmare’, is substance fuelled. Having had the set-up last issue, here we reach the nightmare itself. This isn’t very inspired: there’s some clouds and anthropomorphised confectionery, and just like that it’s over, and back to not very glamourous reality. This heavily toned style looks better than her earlier, hesitant yet messy line work.
In Kurt Wolfgang’s ‘Nothing Eve’ a cool-turned-cynical youth tries to make the most of what might be his last day. There’s a little more character and expression in the rendering of his cartoon-punk vision this time.
French cartoonist Lewis Trondheim continues his mid-life hiatus meditation ‘At Loose Ends’, written and dated as diary pages and drawn directly in ink. He’s self aware and gently self-critical. There are plenty of interesting anecdotes, but they’ll be most interesting if you’re steeped in French comics. Recognising this, the editors supply biographical reference for the mentioned creators.
‘It’s Okay, you have Everything you Need’ by Anders Nilsen is one of the more satisfying of his philosophical vignettes. It’s a well captured power play, reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s later books and plays
Paul Hornschemeier’s ‘Now Then’ in it’s four minimal pages is about several things: the idea of a moment, the question of volition (how far is our next moment a matter of our choice and will), and how do you represent this in a comic? The images are minimal, symbolic, diagrammatic: a house, a desk, a leaf hanging on a tree, a leaf falling off a tree. There are no people until two similar drawings in the last row, of people walking. Are they each alone? We’re prompted to ask: does one set seem less lonely, and how are they affected by the actions and volition of others. It’s a mystery, satisfyingly unresolved.
New to Mome are Eleanor Davis, Al Columbia, and Tom Kaczynski. Davis’ ‘Seven Sacks’ refers to the brain-teaser of how a ferryman transports a fox, a rabbit and a sack of grain over to an island without any of them eating the other. Here the fares are fantastical creatures, each stranger than the last, and carrying a sack with signs of struggling within. Another mystery happily unresolved.
Kaczynski depicts a drive to work, but it’s more a meditation on traffic, architecture, and society. Having grown up in Poland he’s sees the strangeness in what others accept as normal in the USA. His art is traditionally realistic, with an diagrammatic, architectural quality that suits the subject: the clean lines of modern buildings, and vast scale of out of town business sites. It’s intellectualised, distant, only coming back to personal experience at the end as the traffic frustration builds up.
Al Columbia effectively pastiches old pop culture images, like 1930s cartoons (complete with white gloves on four fingered hands) then does what he says in ‘Chopped Up People’ – chopped up artistically, but sometimes literally.
This is the most satisfying issue of Mome so far.