Eric Reynolds & Gary Groth, ed., MOME 6: Winter 2007 (Fantagraphics 2006)
Mome [mohm], n. Archaic a fool; blockhead
Edited by the Fantagraphics guys, and proudly defined by a rotating roster of contributors, the sixth volume of the successful comic anthology MOME contains work by Sammy Harkham, Martin Cendreda, Anders Nilsen, R. Kikuo Johnson, Jeffrey Brown, Gabrielle Bell, Sophie Crumb and Tim Hensley, to name but a few.
Hensley, aka cult musician Vic Hazelnut and Victor Banana member who soundtracked Daniel Clowes’ Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, and also the subject of the 12-page interview in this issue, draws colourful, highly stylised Archie type comics. Here, an assault of pinks, yellows, reds and greens colour Hensley’s ‘Wally Gropius’ saga, a continuing story of a teen millionaire who has to marry the saddest girl in the world or loose his money, that basically runs as a series of non-sequiturs but written with killer dialogue like, “These kids today. Back then, we couldn’t afford photosynthesis. We had to build oxygen from scratch with an atom smasher”, and, “I know the type–combs his hair with a fork, all halitosis and premature ejaculations”.
The interview with Hensley, conduted by Gary Groth, is both illuminating and hilarious. Asked if the name Walter Gropius is influenced by the Bauhaus architect, Hensley replies: “I really was not familiar with his work at all, but I thought his name was funny — his last name because it has the word ‘grope’ in it, of course…I did end up doing a little research on Gropius and there’ll be little titbits — like if you look at the ‘Iacocca’ panel, the very first one, that’s actually a Gropius building, a factory…The whole gist of it, the running joke in it though, is that people are always mistaking him for the actual Walter Gropius when he isn’t.”
[Image: from 'Life with Mr. Dangerous, part 5' by Paul Hornschemeier]
R. Kikuo Johnson, a fast rising star of the comics world, shines with his apocryphal take on clichéd love comics of yore as does Martin Cendreda with ‘Hopscoth’, an image from which graces the MOME cover. Drawn in maroon, blue and white, his magical and affecting tale is of two kids who live in the dumpster outside Joe’s Italian restaurant, who come to life at night when they make a three-dimensional game out of cardboard boxes. Anders Nilsen’s ‘The Notary’ is barely a comic at all, instead a stick figure delivers a monlogue drawn over out-of-focus maps. It works, though, much the same as last year’s Monologues for the Coming Plague.
Not exactly themed, but there is a distinct war thread running throughout the MOME, coincidental, we’re told but nonetheless acknowledged in the editor’s notes: “The references to war and conflict by at least four contributors this issue are the result of sheer happenstance and not a concerted effort to court readers from the military industrial complex. Please, no wiretapping.” David Heatley’s ‘Iraq’, based on a dream and featuring the artist join hands to form a protective ring around a mosque; French cartoonist Émile Bravo’s wordless 10-pager on the Israel/Palestinian conflict, ‘Ben Qutuz Brothers in Frustration Land’, has plenty of jokes but even thought and speech balloons are illustrated; nods in Jeffrey Brown’s ‘Everyday Terrorists’ and Anders Nilsen’s ‘The Notary’; even in R. Kikuo Johnson’s faux teen mag ‘First Teen Fancy’ features a G.I. Jane.
Like most anthologies, MOME is a bit of a mixed bag. I don’t care much for Sophie (daughter of Robert) Crumb’s (and I’ll bet she’s sick of that) sketches and L’Association’s Lewis Trondheim’s ‘At Loose Ends’ does nothing for me, but that’s just a question of taste perhaps aided by the fact I am unfamiliar with the previous instalments. Then again, maybe not—I enjoyed Paul Hornschemeier’s ‘Life with Mr. Dangerous, part 5′. Despite this, MOME is a solid, enjoyable collection and I, for one, am glad to have been turned on to Tim Hensley’s work.
Susan Tomaselli lives in Ireland where she edits the inimitable Dogmatika and is Comics Co-Editor of 3:AM.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, April 17th, 2007.