Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mome vol. 1 and Mome vol. 2

Mome vol. 1
Ed. by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds

Fantagraphics, 2005

Mome vol. 2
Ed. by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds

Fantagraphics, 2005

«Mome» is an anthology of comics coming out four times a year. This year the twentieth volume arrived on the shelves, and I'll start with the first two books.
Anthologies have their advantages and disadvantages. They open up new names (at the same time allowing to read works of already well-known authors), they can be read from beginning to the end, or starting with any story, stories in them are usually short, so they do not overtire even those who have distracted attention. By cons I would took the lack of completeness of some stories: to see what will happen next, you need to buy the next volume. And if you started with the second, then it is unclear how this or that story began. It would be much better to print the fully finished stories. (We should also mention that in addition to comics, there are also long and fairly thoughtful interviews with someone from the contributor of the book.)
In the first and the second volume there are a lot of things to enjoy. Stories differ both in length (there are one-page strips, too) and in narrative technique.

In the first volume in a simple black-and-white depiction of «I Feel Nothing» Gabrielle Bell presents her protagonist, a young girl who called to visit, just to sit, a young man, kind of a rich drug addict. In the midst of the evening the young man invites the girl to become his girlfriend, sniffing with powder, to quit work and sit at home all day in his company. This is a story, perhaps, in the vein of Jeffrey Brown (he is in this book, too), even in style. Brown himself is presented here in «Part Time». It is very funny story about how Brown makes procrastination at the time, as he is pressing by deadlines. It is great comics, not even just comics, but metacomics! His comic strip in the second book is a real mystery. What not takes away from Brown is his self-irony.

Direct narration in the first volume is also in Sophie Crumb’s comics. She is represented by three things here. The first, «Eddy Bear Takes His Share», is a short story about how a girl brings home a beggar. The second, «Tanya», is about almost the same thing - the mysterious corners of life (Crumb writes and offers us a graphic story of the history of our compatriot trapped in the U.S. in the hope of a happy life). Crumb’s stories are almost always about one thing, but this is understandable: her comic are parables with clearly derived moral. Andrice Arp in both volumes contributed graphic stories on the material of Japanese mythology. They are well drawn, but they don’t have enough energy. In a completely insane way drawn story of Kurt Wolfgang «Passing Before Life's Very Eyes». These are memories of the old man, already almost breathing his last, and here in front of his eyes sweeping the whole his life. This is a comic about the opposition: in Wolfgang’s each fragment of page vie angel and devil, Robinson Crusoe and Friday, the old man and a young man, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. This is a story in yellow tones on how quickly you live and quickly die. In «Mome vol. 2" Wolfgang has more mundane story about two young punks in 1977. In the second book Martin Cendreda (in vol. 1 he had great one-page strips) has story «The Magic Marker» about, well, a magic marker, a kind of analogue of a magic wand. Of course, possession of a marker does not bring brightens to a faceless character, who looks like Pinocchio.

Two of the most bizarre stories in the first two volumes of «Mome» are "221 Sycamore Ave» by John Pham and «Overpeck» by David Heatley. Overpeck is the name of a town, where live a girl-duck that walks down the street completely naked, eternally quarreling Negro children, drawing pictures autistic girl. In Heatley’s all the time something moves, flashes, and the pages are like a scattering of colored beads in the form of dogs, bicycles, broken swings, trees. The three parallel storylines unfolds in this story. Where they will lead to, it is not clear, but it is still terribly entertaining. "221 Sycamore Ave» is drawn as if the comic book was made by the drawing teacher: solid right rectangles, circles, and prospects. In the first part we are introduced to a girl named Mildred Lee, which makes the lessons, and then crawls under the table and stays there. In a room at the same time there is the most mysterious character of all that are found in two books - a man-bag. All the time he just sits on the couch and never says anything. Soon, we are presented another hero, Vrej Sarkissian, who enjoys all the smells of the outside world.
In these two books there are a lot of interesting and confusing, enjoyable and intriguing.

Do not be a mome, read these first-rate collections of comics.

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