January 25, 2009

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MOME Volume 2

Written by Various Writers
Illustrated by Various Artists
Fantagraphics

The second edition of Fantagraphics' anthology series brings back old friends Gabrielle Bell, Sophie Crumb, Jeffrey Brown, and others along with a few new contributors.

Crumb's work continues in the style of her dad's comics, with three short tales that are based in the reality of her life--a boy who faked his death, a very comical vegan punk, and yet another punk who raves the night away. In some of the very few reviews of MOME, I've seen her work singled out as being bad, but I think it's a lot of fun. But then again, I also read comic zines, and her work is very much in that style.

Jeffrey Brown's entry is strangely dark, as it springs from his work-life but branches out into a conspiracy to cover up a death at a jam session. See what happens when you try to form a garage band?

The multi-part stories are back in full force, with Paul Hornschemeier's "Life with Mr. Dangerous" kinda stuck in a bland-life neutral, David Heatley's "Overpecked" continuing to be disturbing, and John Pham's "221 Sycamore Ave." focusing on an instructor past his prime. Pham's story is the most interesting of the three, but I continue to be baffled by why a quarterly book needs to string stories out like this.

Jonathan Bennett pens a cartoon monologue in "Needles and Pins," as a man reflects on ravenous pidgeons and other things while Kurt Wolfgang gives us several one-page gags about crude children that are mildly amusing but nothing special. I'm not a big fan of being shocking just because you can.

Perhaps most adventurous is "Event" by Anders Nilsen, a story that tells everything with a series of colored blocks centered on the page with text. I'm still not sure how I feel about this one, as it is definitely thought provoking, but I am not sure the pages devoted to it were worth it.

Tim Hensley provides "ads" for the book this time, my favorite involving a street-toboggoning pontiff.

My favorite story was "Magic Marker" by Matin Cendreda. Reminding me very much of the work of Jason (another Fantagraphics artist), the lead character finds an ordinary magic marker, except that whatever he writes with it comes true. Like the Monkey's Paw, however, this is not quite all it's cracked up to be. These are the types of stories you can only find in an anthology and that's why I like them so much.

Gabrielle Bell, another writer/artist quickly becoming a favorite of mine, writes a tale of birthday woe and gets the interview slot in this issue. She's surprisingly dismissive of the genre, prefering to read "great literature." I find that kind of comment offputting as a rule, but as my friend Noah points out, it's okay to separeate the writer from the things they say. (If that wasn't quite what he said, it was close, and is very much a Noah-like thing to say.)

The anthology wraps up with another folktale (which I'm still not sure fits in with the rest of the material) and a parting shot from Wolfgang. Once again, I am pleased with the overall quality of the material, and if you are a fan of anthologies and indie comix work, I think it's a safe bet you will be, too.