I talked a little bit about MOME last week, and mentioned that Iâ€™d finished reading VOLUME 7 and enjoyed it, and I just finished volume 8 the other day. All of the real reviews have been done and everyoneâ€™s already remarked at what a treasure Eleanor Davis is (all deserved) and debated over whether or not old cartoonists really do start to lose it as per Lewis Trondheimâ€™s assertion in â€œAt Loose Ends.â€ In fact, over at his blog, Jog has done a bang-up job disassembling MOME VOLUME 8 already, and has also done a lengthy review of MOME VOLUME 7.
But before this came out a few months back, I questioned here on my blog, in reference to Trondheim and previously serialised artist David B: â€œIâ€™m not sure how promoting the book on the strength of established talent fits their mission statement, other than maybe goosing the sales a little (a noble pursuit).â€ Eric Reynolds e-mailed me afterwards to thank me for paying attention and ask me my further thoughts, and here they are:
MOME is a complete connundrum to me because, despite thoroughly enjoying it, I feel like itâ€™s supposed to be something else. I keep comparing it to DRAWN + QUARTERLY SHOWCASE (which was originally going to be called the â€œNew Talent Showcase,â€ actually) because both books have a similar format of 120-200 pages, both have(had?) a mission statment of bringing work to market from new and emerging cartoonists, and both are giving a high-profile venue to these works with great production values that place the work right alongside other great graphic novels and anthologies. But I think that on the whole the D+Q SHOWCASE has been more successful in its stated aims, by consistantly delivering excellent, genuinely different and self-contained work. I also think that, with a quarterly schedule to start and a mandate of serialising work (with many serials dropping out of the anthology or going on hiatus every volume) each issue of MOME, despite a square binding and lush production values just feels like a more ephemeral thingâ€¦ I can happily recommend one of the showcase books due to the inclusion of a complete narrative by Sammy Harkham, or Genevieve Castree, or Kevin H. or Martin Cendreda or whomever. I find that with MOME, no one (or even two or three stories) is strong enough for someone to purchase volume 7 (if they havenâ€™t picked up the first 6) (though many will happily stand and read the story I tell them is good for the 3 or 4 minutes it takes). Even getting behind things like AT LOOSE ENDS by Trondheim, or the serialised DAVID B stuffâ€¦ Iâ€™d much, much rather each volume of MOME included the whole story from beginning to end to complete theâ€¦ wholenessâ€¦ of each volume on the shelf.
(Maybe there are plans at some distant point in the future to collect these stories though, and running the whole story as opposed to serialising it would clearly harm the eventual sales of such a projectâ€¦? But then I feel like ANY appearance of a Euopean work in English would likely harm its further English-language sales in a different formatâ€¦ I dunno.)
But next month begins the serialisation of a short Jim Woodring story, for example, that certainly feels to me like it oughtta be read in a single sitting (and that kind of was the intended format for itâ€¦).
Which isnâ€™t to say that the anthology isnâ€™t successful, or that it isnâ€™t selling well for us, or that I donâ€™t enjoy it: It is, It does, I do. I even like anthologies conceptually, and want to see more of them. But if the book isnâ€™t going to just be a new talent showcase anymore, if itâ€™s going to have a lead feature, a cover feature to really hook us, then do it! Run with it and hook us! MOME 9: INCLUDES A COMPLETE GRAPHIC NOVELLA BY JIM (FRANK) WOODRING, plus 3 short stories and your 4 favourite continuing serials! But if this is serialisation before collection, a SHONEN JUMP for the art-school set (oh man, thatâ€™s gonna get me in trouble) then scale it back, include all the serials, the short stories, and maybe even beef up the interview and editorial content and really take advantage of the â€˜periodicalnessâ€™ of the format (but maybe work far enough ahead so that no one has to miss a volume (or two or three)). I just feel like its got its feet in two worlds right now, and despite a spectacular recent issue and â€™shake-upâ€™ of the book, it just doesnâ€™t feel â€˜thereâ€™ yet.
Anyway, thereâ€™s my two cents on MOME. I hope this does not cause an internet riot.