February 16, 2007

Comics: Not Just for Kids

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Did you grow up loving Peanuts, but now think comics are “Wah Wah” boring? Were you ever taken to the Far Side or driven Mad? Maybe you still get your kicks from the New Yorker strips. However you feel about comics — love them, like them or miss them — the Winter 2007 installment of the Fantagraphics Books collection MOME is sure to be a hit.

MOME is a seasonal collection of graphic short stories, drawings, interviews and other work compiled from everyone from up-and-comers to underground favorites — 60 pages of new, original and exciting work. Published four times a year, MOME gives fans a chance to keep up with their favorite artists and to see improvement and changes. The collection also serves as a way for people unfamiliar with alternative comics to gain a quick and exciting introduction.

The issue begins with “Iacocca High.” The expressive pen of Tim Hensley creates this mannered and vibrant short. Pinks, yellows, reds and greens neatly fill the panels, as Hensley gives an introduction to a pretty, yet incoherent and macabre world. The story is only one page long, a colorful but quick introduction.

The second story is “Hopscotch” by Martin Cendreda. The tiny stars of this story adorn the cover of the collection and may be the most endearing duo in the issue. Cendreda creates his strip out of minimal pen scratch, but instantly evokes a living world.

The two stars of the story, a little boy and girl who live in the dumpster behind “Joe’s Italian,” scurry out of the alley and into the street during the night. The kids arrange a pile of cardboard boxes into a three-dimensional hopscotch pattern, and then play the game. With this simple story, which is reflected in the minimal colors and lines, Cendreda manages to evoke feelings of nostalgia.

Another highlight of the issue is Jeffrey Brown’s bold 15-page story, “Everyday Terrorists.” Brown has shifted from his familiar minimal line and expressionistic figures and here pays close attention to composition and shading. Brown’s story mocks traditional comics, politics and people — a satire that is genuinely hilarious.

Brown’s friend and TheHolyConsumption.com partner, Paul Hornschemeier also delivers ingenious new work. Hornschemeier’s story, “Life With Mr. Dangerous, Part 5” is as stylized and bold as his previous work, Mother, Come Home, but here Hornschemeier gets whacky, dreamy and almost demented — the bubble shapes, lettering and figures reflect a newfound light-heartedness and optimism.

Èmile Bravo, the famous French cartoonist, embraces illustration to the fullest in “The Brothers Ben Qutuz in ‘Frustration Land,’” as he replaces text with more pictures. Not only are scenes illustrated, but characters’ thoughts and words are all illustrated as well. In this way, nothing is lost in the translation from French to English. With this unique approach, there is some difficulty following the plot. It does not matter — the work is visually stunning, and Bravo establishes himself as creative, unique and exciting.

The issue also includes work from Andres Nilsen, with pages akin to those in his “Monologues for the Coming Plague.” Politics, people, culture, horror and comedy are all covered in the work of the remaining artists: David Heatley, Sammy Harkham, R. Kikuo Johnson, Sophie Crumb, Lewis Trondheim, Jonathan Bennett, Gabrielle Bell and Kurt Wolfgang.

Within MOME Winter 2007, there are comedy and comics for everybody. From the comic enthusiast to the nostalgic adult, this alternative comic collection is worth a look, and a laugh.