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MOME Volume 19 - The White Rhinoceros

Volume 19 of Fantagraphics' anthology title MOME is possibly the best yet. There is a reduction in the number of artists contributing, but this makes the issue more tightly focused and allows a few real gems to shine through. To do this title justice I'm going to post separate reviews of each of the stories I felt where worth examining in a little detail.

The first strip encountered is “The White Rhinoceros” by Shaun Partridge and Josh Simmons, which starts off with a very retro, 1970s looking couple of pages with a little black boy chasing the scent of “racial magic” to a psychedelic title page.

We then abruptly cut to a young teenage girl in bed, and Josh Simmons changes the lighting to both reflect the fact of it being night time, and to ensure that the light from the moon falls in such a way that the reader's eye is always drawn to the appropriate part of each panel. It's a well executed technique and keeps things clear. We assume the girl has lost her mother, either to divorce or death as she answers “Oh mommy, you've come back!” to the call of her name. Unfortunately the voice belongs to one of her toy rag dolls that is climbing over the end of the bed, and again the advance of the doll up the bed to a terrified Rosie is effectively handled.

As the doll advances on Rosie she says that there is a secret which is “Right here” pointing at the red triangle that serves as a nose for the doll, and the contrast of the bright red triangle on the rather dull face of the doll indicates that this may be important as we progress through the story.

The scene switches as Rosie, now middle aged, wakes up, we think, into a strange landscape, which we find out is called Racelandia, next to a little naked pink girl who calls herself a Baby Pink Polack. There then follows a series of strange encounters and conversations as casual abuse and racism is thrown around by the Baby Pink Polack:

“...you have such a big, round belly”

“You could probably eat a baby Jiggaboo!”

The two are spat on by “Paddies” before the Paddies are chased, and some eaten, by a Paddy Wagon, before the wagon turns on them and they run away.

It's hard to judge a strip when you've only read one part. There's enough wit and invention within both script and art to keep me coming back for more, and it will be interesting to see how Shaun Partridge brings the disparate elements of his script together, if indeed he does.

The art is very effective, with large areas of flat, bright colours emphasising the cartoonish quality to the art which is the only really attractive way such a story could be depicted. Reading it put me in mind of Paul Honschmemeier, and Josh Simmons manages to get good expressions on the faces of his characters so that their feelings are easily read, a skill not as prevalent amongst comic artists as it should be.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 26th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
Was this a comic book of the month?
Oct. 26th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
No. It comes out every quarter and usually has some really good artists and some dross. The quality outnumbers the dross but it can be a difficult read sometimes with some experimental strips. It's put me onto a few people I never knew about.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )