Synopses & Reviews
A new quarterly anthology of the best new talent in the sequential arts.
Written and Illustrated by Andrice Arp, Gabrielle Bell, Marc Bell, Jonathan Bennett, Jeffrey Brown, Sophie Crumb, Sammy Harkham, David Heatley, Paul Hornschemeier, Anders Nilsen, John Pham, and Kurt Wolfgang. Designed by Jordan Crane. Edited by Gary Groth & Eric Reynolds.
MOME: (mome) n. 1. (archaic) blockhead; fool. 2. The cutting-edge of literary comics for the 21st Century.
Every "period" in modern comics history has had its anthology that tapped into the zeitgeist and foreshadowed a new "generation" of cartoonists (Zap in the '60s; Arcade in the '70s; RAW and Weirdo in the '80s, etc.). For the new millennium, there is MOME. This accessible, reasonably priced quarterly book will run approximately 136 pages per volume and spotlight a regular cast of a dozen of today's most exciting cartoonists. Designed by acclaimed designer and cartoonist Jordan Crane, MOME will feature an iconic design and consistent format that should quickly establish the anthology as the most distinctive and accessible anthology of literary comics available.
Awareness of comics with greater aesthetic ambition continues to rise simultaneous to the rebirth of the literary journal, as seen with publications like McSweeney's (which features several MOME contributors) or The Believer magazine. Though virtually every cutting-edge literary journal these days has flirted with comics, MOME is the first all-comics literary anthology designed to sit alongside publications like Granta, The Baffler, McSweeney's, et. al., and is designed to appeal as much to fans of contemporary literary fiction as longtime comics fans.
Like R. Crumb's legendary Zap anthology, MOME will feature the same collective of artists every issue, allowing the artists and audience to grow together and build an ongoing identity that is highly unusual for the world of contemporary comics (where many authors publish sporadically by literary standards, given the labor intensive nature of comics). The first volume of MOME will feature the following:
- John Pham's (Epoxy) "221 Sycamore Street" follows the lives of five main characters who live in a single, two-story "craftsmen" style house in Los Angeles. The strip will be comprised of stand alone one-pagers that overlap storylines to create a larger narrative. Presented in the form of a big, vertical Sunday newspaper page, Pham's mix of form and content harken back to classic serial strips like Gasoline Alley.
- Paul Hornschemeier (Mother Come Home and Forlorn Funnies) contributes a six-part graphic novella titled "Life with Mr. Dangerous." This full-color narrative centers around two characters, Amy Breis and Mr. Dangerous. Amy struggles to define a life outside of the example her mother provides (working as a retail clerk all her life). Amy's past and present romantic life are a mess, the only person she cares about lives half the country away in San Francisco, and she finds herself spending far too much time watching a cartoon, "Mr. Dangerous."
- Anders Nilsen's (Big Questions) "The Beast" is a full-color, 12-page absurdist monologue by a single character on the push-and-pull of art and politics, aesthetics and state violence, freedom and responsibility. Things happen around him, he is imprisoned and set free, there are conspiracies, intrigues, but his attention scarcely leaves the philosophical problems. Presented as a series of two-page spreads, each spread features a color landscape photograph, with characters, actions, and objects superimposed by Nilsen.
- Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, McSweeney's) contributes a brutal character study about a young man who turns up missing. His car is found a week later, his body days after that in an abandoned warehouse. The possibility of foul play looms large, but what really happened is both simple and senseless and makes one question how much or little friendship can mean.
- David Heatley (McSweeney's) contributes the first of a series of stories revolving around a cast of characters in a town called "Overpeck" (also the name of the strip). Originally conceived in a dream, as are many of Heatley's comics, he has fleshed out his initial, unconscious creations into a developed cast of characters that inhabit this town, with each self-contained story focusing on a different character or characters.
- Andrice Arp adapts a Japanese fairy tale called Jewels of the Sea. A prince loses his brother's best fish hook and travels to the bottom of the sea to find it, only to discover treasures beyond his imagining.
- Kurt Wolfgang (Where Hats Go) delivers a wordless, two-color comic fable, starring a boy who makes a wish by throwing a coin from a bridge into a creek. The coin sets off a chain reaction of unexpected events that eventually lead to his wish being fulfilled before his very eyes.
- Gabrielle Bell contributes The Upstairs Cowboy, a short story and period piece focusing on a conversation between a young struggling artist and a successful but troubled entrepreneur, at the height of the 1990's dot-com boom.
- Jonathan Bennett (Esoteric Tales) delivers a tale about a man who looks out his apartment window with binoculars and sees a promising bunch of trash out for pick-up on the corner. What he finds upon further inspection takes him in unexpected directions...
The first volume is rounded out with autobiography from the Harvey Award-nominated "Best New Talent" Sophie Crumb (Belly Button Comix
), as well as new comics from Marc Bell (Shrimpy & Paul
) and Sammy Harkham (Kramer's Ergot
"This new anthology highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of a new generation of alternative comics artists. Today's art comics scene seems to offer a variety of unusual, nuanced drawing styles on the one hand, but a lesser variety of wan, hyper-quirky narratives on the other. The comics in this volume can be engaging, but they can also be too opaque for clear meaning or just elegantly aimless. Anders Nilson's genially surreal story 'The Beast,' in which a faceless cartoon figure roughly drawn on photographs delivers an absurd tale, falls into the later category. So does 'Passing Before Life's Very Eyes,' Kurt Wolfgang's cartoon meditation on impending death, though its comic intent and lively drawing rescue it from complete oblivion. Gabrielle Bell's 'I Feel Nothing,' in which diffident girl meets passive-aggressive boy, and '221 Sycamore Ave,' John Pham's enigmatic story of an utterly ordinary girl and a boy with an utterly unusual nose, are two of the best examples of thoughtfully rendered artwork combined with an engagingly oddball story. Also of note is Paul Hornschemeier's 'Living with Mr. Dangerous,' a methodically paced story of individual torpor. Additional work by Jeffrey Brown, Sophie Crumb and Jonathan Bennett add up to a very good selection of new art comics." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] handsome collection, the size of literary journal, mixing color and black and white all in service of throwing the spotlight on a lot of the more interesting young cartoonists....The bulk of the cartoonists provide solid primers to their work as seen to date." ComicsReporter.com
A new quarterly anthology of the best new talent in the sequential arts in color, part-color, and black-and-white. The regular roster of artists gives the series a concrete identity. Quarterly schedule allows readers to look forward to favorite artists on a regular basis. Created for a general audience of literature fans, with a focus on contemporary fiction and narrative.
About the Author
Gary Groth is the founder and president of Fantagraphics Books.
Eric Reynolds is a longtime editor whose credits include The Complete Crumb Comics, The Comics Journal, Dirty Stories, and Hysteria In Remission.
Both live in Seattle, WA.