A book like no other, HoBK is very tough to concisely describe, but we'll give it the old college try: It is a meditation on ideas concerning knowledge; specifically on what constitutes authority in the realm of knowledge, and how this authority is represented. It is -- whether consciously so or not is open to debate -- an examination of the perception that an innate authority lies in manuscripts -- literally "writing by hand" -- the medium through which all traditional knowledge was stored and distributed during the millenia preceding Gutenberg's invention of movable type and the printing press which ushered in the era of print (which era, we hasten to add, is now coming to a close -- what better time to revisit its precursor?). Fenwick employs walls of irony and sarcasm to seal off the reader into chamber of darkness wherein he lights a single candle and everything is illuminated.
Yes, it's another issue packed with swell contemporary comics, as MOME continues to deliver. The unquestioned highlight of this issue is the first new extended comics work by Jim Woodring in several years: Part I (of 2) of the 45 page piece, "The Lute String." (This issue provides the first 25 pages and the next issue will provide the 20-page conclusion.) There's no one like Woodring, and "The Lute String" proves that he still has the magic touch. He's joined here by team-MOME: the relative newcomers Ray Fenwick, Tim Hensley, Al Columbia, Eleanor Davis, Joe Kimball and Tom Kaczynski, along with the stalwart veterans Gabrielle Bell, Kurt Wolfgang, Paul Hornschemeier and Sophie Crumb.
MOME 8 - Summer 2007 is edited by Eric Reynolds and Gary Groth. This issue pretty much completes the transition to the new "Team MOME." Original members Jonathan Bennet, Sophie Crumb and Paul Hornschemeier are joined here by new comers (some of whom showed up last issue) Eleanor Davis, Ray Fenwick, Tom Kaczynski, Al Columbia, Émile Bravo and Joe Kimball, while Lewis Trondheim wraps up his three-part "At Loose Ends." Davis is the featured artist this issue with her work gracing the cover and providing the lead story, while she is the interview subject as well. Her story, "Stick and String" is a moody meditation on exogamous bonding that shows her work moving a bit in the direction of Sammy Harkham (although, in her interview, she identifies Joann Sfar as her current fave). The Copacetic pick for this issue is Tom Kaczynski's "10,000 Years," a mordant take on contemporary alienation that, while clearly indebted to Clowes, brings an original perspective to the table with its smart synthesis of dialectical materialism and post-industrial consumer culture. And we can't sign off on this issue without mentioning Émile Bravo's "Young Americans," which is certainly one of the cleverest short comics we've read in a while.
This issue is a mix of oldtimers and newcomers: rugged MOME veterans, Andrice Arp, Paul Hornschemeier, Ray Fenwick, and Tim Hensley deliver a basket full of tales, each in their own inimitable manner, and, in Hensley's case, his last (at least for the time being) as his triptych concludes the long running (since MOME #5) saga of Wally Gropius; medium-term MOMErs, Dash Shaw, Sara Edward-Corbett, Conor O'Keefe, Robert Goodin and Nathan Neal each provide readers with memorable reads, with Neal turning in his strongest narrative yet; and Gilbert Shelton and Pic conclude their tale of rock 'n' roll at the world's edge. And then we have the newcomers: T. Edward Bak debuts here with the first chapter of his work in progress, Steller, as do Noah Van Scriver and noted Spanish cartoonist, Max, whose contribution is a nice, neat 16-page mini-comic that is precisely positioned (and presumably removable – although it's readable while in place) after the last page. All in all, another fine issue.