The Collected Sequential
A few things to say about Sequential. First of all, it's juvenilia, which is weird because I think Paul Hornschemeier is younger than me and yet he's already collected his juvenilia into a $25 book. Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge him; I'm impressed that over the course of seven issues and two and a half years, Sequential went from a xeroxed zine of 35 total copies to a four-color comic available in most alternative comic book stores. Adrian Tomine did something very similar with 32 Stories, actually. But it's just unsettling that in the introduction he credits Dan Clowes's great Ghost World as his inspiration for drawing alternative comics, because I was reading Eightball before Ghost World appeared in it.
Okay, enough about me feeling old. On to the next thing: isn't there a word for things that have the structure of a joke but aren't actually jokes? I feel like there is, but I can't remember it. Hornschemeier uses that construction a lot. In fact, one four-panel story titled "Where is the Punchline?" reads like this:
Little boy picking up a piece of paper: "Mother! Oh, Mother! Is this it? The punchline?"
Mother: "Foolish boy! Have I not told you that you must wait? In the next panel..."
Man addressing someone behind a desk: "...I am older! Now may I have the punchline?"
Woman behind a desk, laughing off her chair: "Hah Hah! How sad! There is no punchline, my boy! Your hair grows thin and your bones weak! Nothing more!"
Sometimes in these kinds of stories you can see him ripping off Chris Ware, sometimes Dan Clowes, sometimes Chester Brown, but only a little tiny bit. Others are more experimental, as with a story called "The Devil's Lonely Day," which mixes three narrative strands without differentiating them. Although he does not always do it, in several short stories he shows himself capable of interesting and unexpected visual presentation--not exactly unusual drawing, more like innovative graphic design.
After Sequential, Hornschemeier started a comic called Forlorn Funnies. Issues 2, 3, and 4 have been collected into a straight narrative book called Mother Come Home, which is pretty good. I'd start there.
Preview here because I can't get the image to show up properly when I copy it.
Tags: comics, comic books, Paul Hornschemeier, Sequential, culture