Mome 15: Spring 2009

By various (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-152-7

The latest volume of the inimitable showcase of alternative graphic narrative features the landmark conclusion of Tim Hensley’s Wally Gropius; a fixture since the fifth issue (Fall 2006) among the usual unusual treats of comics and art illustration, and also sees the debut of T. Edward Bak’s enchanting pictorial biography of Georg Wilhelm Steller, the German naturalist who with Polar explorer Vitus Bering endured so much on the Second Kamchatka Expedition in 1741. There’s also a translated classic from Spanish cartooning master Max…

After three stylishly intriguing Nipponese Bestiary illustrations, Urashima and Tarô, Ryûjin and Ningyo from Andrice Arp, (who also provided the evocative cover image) Hensley concludes his contemporary saga of hip modernity with Jillian in “Spoilers”, Gropius Besieged and Nondenominational, all nicely book-ended by one more Arp creature, Umibôzu.

Sara Edward-Corbett explores the pressures of childhood romance in Pool Party, Ray Fenwick once again provides a telling exercise in design and narrative typography with How I Do It, and Conor O’Keefe shows his impressive virtuosity and quirky sense of humour with Ducks.

Bak’s Stellar then begins, a tour-de-force of black and white illustration techniques married to a challenging narrative methodology that is funny, sad, terrifying and utterly absorbing, followed by the third and final part of legendary underground cartoonist Gilbert Shelton and the enigmatic Pic’s Last Gig in Shnagrlig, featuring that lost music super-group Not Quite Dead in a valiant escape bid from a desert nation pummelled by Uncle Sam’s unwanted attentions… and tanks.

Delia’s Love by Nathan Neal beguilingly examines the pitfalls of modern romance whilst newcomer Noah Van Sciver impressively relates some spooky urban history in The True Tale of the Denver Spider Man, Robert Goodman delineates a charming fable of reincarnation in Living Like a Pig and Dash Shaw treats us to a wonderfully imaginative and uniquely expressive experience in the dream-like My Entire High School… Sinking into the Sea!

The superb Paul Hornschemeier ends the book with the penultimate instalment of Life with Mr. Dangerous (part 10) and that aforementioned Max story The Confederacy of Villains (first published in Spain’s legendary El Vibora (#93, 1987) is stitched into the back as a complete colour and black-&-white mini-comic. Fabulous!

Mome is more magazine than book and features strips, articles, interviews and graphic artworks from a variety of earnest and dedicated comics creators – both internationally renowned or soon-to-be – from the capital “A” end of the art form. It is intense, occasionally hard to read and produced to the highest production standards. Considered by many to be the successor to Art Spiegelman’s seminal Raw, it doesn’t come out nearly often enough.

Whether you’re new to comics, just now exploring the areas beyond the mainstream or merely want something fresh and clever and honest rather than ingeniously recycled; these strips and this publication will always offer a decidedly different read. You may not like all of it, and perhaps the serializations should provide recaps (they still don’t) but Mome will always have something you can’t help but respond to. And since copies of all volumes are still readily available, you really should try it…

Mome © 2009 Fantagraphics Books. Individual stories are © the respective creator. All Rights Reserved.