Friday, April 13, 2007

THIS BOOK IS BUT A DREAM (MOME 7)

I was going to do this whole thing about dreams, dream comics being the disproportionate device used in Mome stories. I had the whole structure ready to go in my head, and was prepared to seriously deliver the goods. But then I didn't. So you'll have to settle for what I did write, an attitude that might make me a perfect candidate for the next artistic shakeup in this anthology.

MOME VOL. 7 Ah, Mome. I was quite prepared to leave this one on the shelf for a while until Jog pointed out that Eleanor Davis would begin contributing to the book. Added to that, Tom Spurgeon revealed that Al Columbia would also have work in it. This meant I was fully primed to read it right away. Well, Mome never fails to disappoint at least a little bit, and this issue continued that grand tradition.

The Davis piece is absolutely gorgeous, and the story does have a little more going on below the surface, but it's not the most evocative piece she's ever done. In a way, it's more reminiscent of Slow Form to Worm, her comics scrolls. There's nothing wrong with it, but this isn't a story that's going to blow you away. You'll simply enjoy it.

Kurt Wolfgang's Nothing Eve is still entertaining. He seems to be the one person most at home withing the format.

There's something funny about Al Columbia's pages. They're the only ones set off by their own title page, as if announcing a major event, but then we just get 8 pages. Beautiful, wonderful pages, but I do feel a bit cheated. We've waited a long time for new work, and I expected a full song, not a short jingle. But that's the fault of my expectations, not the work as presented.

David Heatley supplies two dream comics that sort of just sit on the page without ever getting too psychologically revealing. There's one panel in the first story that's a visual treat (the elevator descending through an office), but nothing else really seems to take off. Adrice Arp and Sophie Crumb deliver more dream comics (Arp's is the more successful, Crumb still hasn't done anything I've enjoyed). Anders Nilsen and newcomer Tom Kaczynski provide two dream-like comics. You can count me as one of the people who found Kaczynski polemics, as Jog says, "a bit much", but the whole thing does have a car-crash quality to it. It's visually lovely, and wonderfully Ballardian, but the philosophy never seems to rise above itself.

Trondheim continues to be introspective, but funny and entertaining. In his quest to prove his theory that all cartoonists become crap once they reach a certain age, he manages to find and provide evidence to the contrary. Possibly trying to prove Trondheim's point for him, Gary Groth interviews Nilsen. Groth's interviews are more interesting when he's combative or when he can come across as incredibly knowledgeable about a topic. But all of these interviews have been puff pieces more than engrossing works of journalism and he spent so long out of the emerging cartoonists loop that these conversations are more like the sort you might find yourself in when an aging rock fan decides he needs to tell you how hip he is while simultaneously telling you how much better it was back in the day. "Oh, now this, this is Skynard. SKYNARD. Do you know Skynard? I mean, I like U2 and Bon Jovi just like you kids, but you should've been around when Skynard was in it's PRIME. I bet they'd STILL rock the house. Or do you all say, "crib" now? Skynard would rock this crib." You can almost see him gasping for air while Nilsen discusses gallery shows and installations, and he even says, "Oh good" when Anders throws him a Jules Feifer bone. Unfortunately, Nilsen never quite gets the opportunity to say anything he hasn't said in other interviews.

Oh, and Paul Hornschemeier may have rendered himself must-wait-and-see with his two pieces.

Al in all, worth it for the Wolfgang, Trondheim, Davis and Columbia, as long as you're expectations are lowered a bit for the latter two (it's very good, but not pedestal worthy). But still not an entirely satisfying experience at all.

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