Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The End of Mome

The cat has been let out of the hydroplane. Eric Reynolds, editor of Mome, Fantagraphics head honcho #3, and overall fantastic human, recently confirmed the whispers via several comics news sources, (Comics Reporter, Robot 6, Comics Journal). Mome will indeed cease to exist with issue #22, which is due to see its debut at the big San Diego shooboodoowop (July 21st). I was informed of all this earlier, as were all of the Mome artists, via an explanatory email which concluded with a request for final contributions from everybody past and present.

I was very sad upon hearing the news. I took the ideas behind Mome very seriously and experimented with all of my submissions, trying out various storytelling methods and drawing techniques that were not always comfortable but very necessary in order to find out where my boundaries were.

The first story I turned in, Parallelograms (Mome12), was an attempt to merge my usual fine art pen and ink technique with the comics form. It was a rough adjustment, although closer to my liking than my previous mini-comics efforts that ended in 1997. Essentially I felt like I wasn't bringing anything to the party back then and so I stopped. Parallelograms was my first comics work since 97' and was I was quite smitten with the idea of coming back to the fold. I'm very thankful to Eric for giving me that opportunity.

For Mome 13 I chose to submit The Marriage Tree, an ink and coffee wash story done in a very jigsaw layout. I had felt confined at various points during Parallelograms, and deduced that I needed more room, more paper to experiment with and destroy if needed. The Marriage Tree was my first submission using the method of cut up and joined panels and I have employed this method for most of my subsequent stories.

Mome 14 contained a shotgun blast of one page stories, each one rendered in a different style. I had delivered 10 pages and 7 of them eventually saw print. For these stories I utilized watercolor, ink wash, coffee wash, computer color, and plain black and white ink. The content of the stories had all come from my short fiction. I was curious to see how they would work in contrast to Parallelograms and The Marriage Tree, which both utilized fable type subject matter. The results were mixed, but the lessons learned proved valuable.

Mome 15 was trouble for me. I had given Eric a two page story, The First Blush of Hope(which eventually appeared in Smoke Signals as a one pager), a one page color piece, The Lying Bastards of Xeta 8, a black and white one pager, These Days I'm Not So Sure, and 17 pages of a serial called The Devil Doll. Obviously I gave Eric too much stuff and quite frankly I hadn't warned him about the serial. This more or less lead to my absence from #15 and #16.

Mome 17 saw the eventual release of The Devil Doll and These Days I'm not So Sure, which was great as it allowed for me to contrast multiple working styles again. The Devil Doll was done in heavy gray ink washes for that old movie moody noir experience. These Days was a story which was more in line with the stuff I do naturally and quickly, short absurdist situational fiction, rendered in stark black and white. The Devil Doll provided a challenge to do something that I had never tried before, extended genre material that was more methodic and rigorous. It was also material that I was always enamored with, as I had been reading books like House of Mystery, Weird War, and Tales From The Crypt since very, very early on. The experience has been an ass kicker to say the least, as there's nothing like working outside of the normal artistic repetoir to strengthen the chops.

Mome 18 had the second chapter of the Devil Doll and no accompanying pieces. The work for part 2 was noticably crisper, with better shadows and more mood. I also chose to disrupt my rigid, self imposed 6 panel square grid by the end of the story. I think at this point I had come to realize that the serial was going to hog up my submissions in Mome due to competitive space.

Mome 19 saw almost all of the new regular artists bumped in order to allow for a special theme issue to occur. Mome 19 in effect had a roster and look that was very similar to another Fantagraphics anthology, Hotwired.

Mome 2o had the third Devil Doll installment, this time featuring a slight browinsh tone, further grid deviations, and a two page color interpretation of one character's D-Day trials, utilizing symbols, repeating patterns, multiple mediums, and a larger grid against white instead of the usual black.

I figured there were about three more chapters, and so I decided to jump into full color for the next Devil Doll installment (Mome 21). For this chapter I used live models and painted every panel with watercolors which was a real twist as I hadn't really messed around with them extensively. Developments also included further character definition and a mood enhancing muted color palette.

And alas, we are back to where we started, issue 22- the end. Now, the announcement that the series was ending struck me a couple of different ways. I was bummed out that The Devil Doll was my last story as I had many other kinds of stories to tell, but I was also struck by the notion that I still has two chapters left of this story to draw. I asked Eric if he could fit in a double sized last chapter and he confirmed that he indeed could. I then set to begin the work, again using live models, watercolors, and other mediums to express the growing paranoia and disintegration within the story. I had various false starts, and a pile of panels that I scrapped for various reasons. Finally, the deadline hovered and I delivered the last 31 pages using two weeks of uninterrupted studio time. The work is among my finest and I feel it caps a long and strange journey in experimentation that began with Mome 12. It's unfortunate that Mome comes to a close, but I am indebted to Eric for the experience, his open natured approach, and his understanding.

1 comment:

insideabox said...

love your work, can't wait to see what you do next. like the new blog layout as well.