September 7th, 2010

Magstar

Mome 19 review

i posted this review on Goodreads, but not all of you are on there, so here it is again. Anybody planning on going to SPX this week-end? If so, see you there!

-- MZA.

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Mome Vol 19: Summer 2010
My favourite Mome yet -- a diverse collection in its approach to storytelling and style (which is the norm for comix anthologies), but united in resisting narrative resolutions in the pursuit of mysteries and new kinds of emotional experience.

Josh Simmons and Shaun Partridge begin a new serial, "The White Rhinoceros", that fuses Technicolor mushroom-tripping to Simmons' trademark sense of creepy disquiet.

In "The Imaginist", Olivier Schrauwen, who might be the world's greatest cartoonist, incorporates his effortless surrealism into a simple tale of a day in the life of an invalid. The story uses a cliché formal demarcation between the man's inner life and outer life, but Schrauwen's fluid renderings and messy colours make both worlds look as if they might erupt at any moment.

Gilbert Hernandez (who also might be the world's greatest cartoonist) contributes "Who Are Your Heroes; What Are Your Heroes?" -- a shaggy hero story starring Gilbert's recurring mop-top fat guy, Roy, who endears himself to me by his dogged cluelessness. In mining comedy from the tragic universe of a trickster God, Gilbert Hernandez is a real pioneer (and a real hero).

D.J. Bryant, whom I'd never read before, blew me away with "Evelyn Dalton-Hoyt", an appreciation of fear of death and emasculation that takes the form of a Lynchian crime/sex thriller. Bryant's drawing looks like a full-grown hybrid of Brian Bolland, Charles Burns, and Daniel Clowes; he'll be famous if he keeps doing this.

Tim Lane channels Charles Burns, too; in "Hitchhiker", he subverts the menace signaled by the Burnsian sharp focus, realism, and heavy blacks, and takes the story a sentimental direction. The trick is not entirely satisfying, and the story suffers by having to follow Bryant's mindfuck; but Lane's ability to capture details such as a windshield wiper in action during heavy rain is pretty transporting.

Conor O'Keefe's "Vote Lily at the Dog Show" is the biggest surprise in a book full of nice surprises -- drawn in a pastel, children's-book style; written in its own off-kilter dialect; built with unconventional but natural-seeming page layouts; and concerned with found love and cultural hypnosis; the plot (such as it is) follows two wrens who become entangled in human affairs, but the story defies description. Read this thing.

Robert Goodin's "The Spiritual Crisis of Carl Jung" appears to be a biographical account of an episode in the psychiatrist's childhood, but it's also a great excuse for Goodin to go hog-wild with symbolic imagery -- v. nicely done and much wilder and more visually interesting than "The Man Who Loved Breasts", the only other thing I've read by him. A good case for giving a cartoonist a second try.

I really like T. Edward Bak's drawings, but his story here, Part 3 of a serial titled "A Bavarian Botanist in St Petersburg", is the only one in this book that failed to engage me. To be fair, I might not have read Parts 1 and 2, but the fact that I don't remember if I did or didn't doesn't bode well for my continued interest. Anyhow, the editor put it last, so it's easy enough to skip.

In summary, I love comix 'til the day I die.

josh simmons,comix