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Thursday, May 15, 2008

MOME Vol. 11 and Amor Y Cohetes -- Here we have two collections packed with fantastic comics, both excellent examples of why Fantagraphics remains the best comics publisher in North America.

* MOME Vol. 11 is the Summer, 2008 offering of the company's anthology of new and established cartoonists. This time out we get excellent offerings from Tom Kaczynski (a truly riveting tale about corporate immersion, one of his best stories yet, and he's always interesting), Dash Shaw (an outstanding story about art and jealousy and fakery and self-deception), and an amazing text piece (illustrated, yes, but mostly text) by Paul Hornschemeier. Hornschemeier also contributes another chapter of his ongoing "Life with Mr. Dangerous" serial (actually the most intriguing outing yet), but the text piece, "The Guest Speaker," is a real stretch, a prose exploration of a single character that feels like Hornschemeier's creative voice, exploring new boundaries of his storytelling.

Gary Groth interviews lettertype cartoonist Ray Fenwick (coinciding with the release of Fenwick's new Fantagraphics release Hall of Best Knowledge, and the result is a fascinating look at his process and creativity.

Oh, I almost forgot, Al Columbia is in here with four pages of mood and colour that are worth the price of admission all by themselves. All this, and a lot more; MOME is your best artcomix value every time out, and this really is an exceptional example of its breadth and worth.

* Amor Y Cohetes is the final (for now) volume of the most recent Love and Rockets reprint series, closing out the entirety of the series first fifty issues in seven compact, amazing volumes. This one is an odds 'n ends catch-all, but it's far from optional if you love the cartooning and storytelling of Los Bros Hernandez. "BEM," Gilbert Hernandez's wild first longform saga, is in here, as is his take on brother Jaime's characters. Lots of short pieces, some political pieces by brother Mario (who seems EC-inspired, to my eyes), and perhaps my favourite thing of all, a plethora of Gilbert panels that remind me strongly of Steve Ditko's work (many of them in the aforementioned "BEM").

If I felt like dicking around with my scanner, and possibly damaging the book, I'd post some examples. But grab a copy and turn to page 39, panel 4; page 10, panel 2; page 14, panel 3; page 24, panel 5; page 178, panel 3. The Hernandez Bros have a number of influences that are especially evident in their early work (which "BEM" surely is), but for some reason seeing Gilbert's Ditkoesque stylings really made me love this book even more. And there's so much stuff in Amor Y Cohetes that you can pretty much open to any page and just start reading another wild, stream-of-consciousness tale. Oh, and would Tesla Strong have existed without Rocket Rhodes as an inspiration?

Get Amor Y Cohetes and take it to the beach, keep it in the car, read it on the train -- it's a great companion for the summer ahead, and like all L&R volumes, absolutely indispensable to any reader who loves great comics.



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