Mome Vol. 18: Spring 2010
Jun 16, 2010 Web Exclusive
Is it weird that I'm not super crazy about Mome Vol. 18, the latest edition of the much lauded, arty anthology? It's an apprehension that goes a bit beyond the typical "it's an anthology and the level of craft varies" caveat that I gave for recent high-quality anthologies Popgun and Hotwire (see recent print issues of Under the Radar).
Almost to a story, the bits and pieces of Mome just suck the careful reader in. Indeed, almost every contribution practically begs for critical examination, not to mention a different frame of mind. I guess I'm wondering why these stories are all in the same tome; other than each being created by highly competent craftspeople and artists, their juxtaposition seems a tad arbitrary.
Some of the individual stories are just stunning. The very first one, The Neurotic Nexus of Creation by Nate Neal is almost a mini-anthology unto itself—a collection of little collections, but each speaking to the broader topic of creation itself. It's pretty wild, and quite varied, and the threads bleed into each other here and there, providing coherence to the seemingly, at first glance, incoherent.
There are other gems as well. I fell in love with Conor O'Keefe's art and sense of place in Autumn; I was tickled by by Joe Daly's Burrow World (which is admittedly quite on-the-nose in its humor, and thus a bit of a refreshing break); enjoyed the weirdness (helped out by the odd color scheme) in Chocolate Gun Cold Heart; and I have to admire the craft in Jon Adams' The Jerk Machine, even if it's a bit distrubing.
Granted, great art often is disturbing (for example, Pim and Francie. But pulling a reader this way and that with stories that do so powerfully might inspire motion sickness. Sequential art here, a series of splash pages in another offering, going from clever to too clever to symbolic to grotesque—it's not easy to digest. I suspect it's not meant to be.
At 16 stories for 15 bucks, you definitely get a lot for your money. This is great art, good comics, and, in my opinion, odd when taken as a collection. Your entertainment mileage and enjoyment may vary. (www.fantagraphics.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 7/10