Friday, October 31, 2008

13 for Halloween: Giving Mnemovore a piece of your mind

Mnemovore deserves a lot more credit than it gets.

The 2005, six-issue limited series has a well-paced script loaded with dread, combining seamlessly with art that skates between cartoony and otherworldly — yet is always dark, moody and menacing. Together the creative team tell a story I never get tired of reading (and which I credit for kick-starting the current wave in mainstream horror comics).

Especially effective is the use of design as a storytelling technique. Fading type, word balloons and eventually whole pages reinforce a sense of mental haziness and a gradual wearing away of what we perceive as real. The loss that the characters are experiencing is brought out to readers, making them an active part of the story. It's clever, and provides both a nice "a-ha!" moment and a disorienting sense of displacement, a brief literary vertigo. You actually find yourself asking, "Wait — what's going on?" ... just like the characters. It's something that could easily come off as gimmicky, but works like a charm in Mnemovore.

Mnemovore is the story of Kaley Markowic, a competitive snowboarder who has lost chunks of her memory following an accident on the slopes. Back at home, Kaley is starting the frustrating process of putting her life back together with the help of friends and family who are essentially strangers to her now. Worse, she starts suffering blackouts and wakes up to find oily black creatures that are all tentacles, eyes and teeth reaching into her head. And then they start attaching themselves to the people around her.

At the same time, Mike is having a nervous breakdown. After winning an award for advertising and marketing, he gives the weirdest speech ever and rails on about media saturation and information overload. Thought, he says, is overpopulated — and overpopulation is a precondition of plague. Mike is an alcoholic, though, and everyone assumes he's just drunk and politely usher him off stage.

Soon the stories of these two characters merge and are tied together by something they have in common; brain damage. With gaps in their memories and misfiring synapses, the mnemovores don't have much to hold onto. Mike quickly becomes a puppet who longs to forget, but Kaley is able to fight it off and sets out to rescue her grandma, ironically enough one of the only people who still remembers her thanks to Alzheimer's. It's not long, though, before Kaley finds herself armed only with ...


Panels from Mnemovore #5, #6
Hans Rodionoff and Ray Fawkes, writers; Mike Huddleston, artist

Click here to see more 13 for Halloween!

And with that, the ghosts and monsters are wrapped up until next year. Oh, and I almost forgot! HAPPY HALLOWE

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