"Mould Map 3: A Review", by Marc Pearson

 

When my futurechildren find my rotting corpse in their futurehouse, I expect they will experience shock, then grief, then pleasure, but not pleasure derived from having seen the rotting body of their father, more of a pleasure brought on by the finding of this comic book anthology, Mould Map 3, which I have left to them, in their futurehouse, next to my rotting corpse.

“What a gift” they might say as they leaf through the pages for the first time, much like I did, 400(?) years ago, with my friend Michael Hawkins (pictured below).

 

 

But we can’t really know, can we? When Michael and I flipped through the pages, I knew what he thought of it, just as he knew what I did, namely because we had a conversation about it.

Travelling through time to the day of my death, I sat down with my daughter, Doctor Pearson, to hear what she really thinks of the book.

Marc Pearson: Hello!

Doctor Pearson: Oh my goodness.

MP: Now, considering Mould Map 3 is an anthology so concerned with its place in “the present”, how did it fare in your time?

DP: It’s just strange to see you like this.

MP: I guess, yeah, it probably would be. Did you get the book that I left by my body?

DP: Uh… yeah, there was a book. It was just an old comic book anthology. Why didn’t you leave a note?

MP: Ah well, I guess there’s our answer, “just an old comic book anthology”.

“And Time, that gave, doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.”

Of course. Everything ages, everything dies.

DP: Was that one of Shakespeare’s sonnets?

MP: Uh… yes. Yes, it was. It was about how nothing survives the ravages of… time…

DP: Looking through this book now, it’s actually quite nice. Why did you leave it for us?

 

 

MP: Well, I’m happy you like it! Mould Map 3 (edited by Hugh Frost & Leon Sadler) is a comic & sequential art anthology released around January in the year that I’m from, 2014. It collects 35 contributors over 224 pages in 9 Pantone colours. It’s an impressive book.

DP: It is kind of impressive.

MP: It definitely has a lot of presence as a book. If, for instance, you saw it from across the room at your high school prom, through balloons and jocks dancing and pink lights, you’d be all like “Woah, what is… that?” and then your friend would lean over and say, “That’s Mould Map 3, it was just kickstarted here by 823 people”, and you’d be chewing your linguini still and you’d say “I have to read it.”

DP: I don’t really know what any of that means, but I definitely feel like I want to read it now.

MP: Well, who wouldn’t? Once you get inside, it’s kind of bursting with interesting approaches to things, before you even read anything. Gloss papers, matte papers, a cheeky dust jacket that doesn’t quite cover the whole book, four tiny inner booklets that are evenly dispersed throughout, and yeah, all of the colours seem to have made it into this book. If you were wondering something like “Uhhhh, will Turquoise be there?”, the answer is yes, Turquoise will be there, it’s one of the colours, and it’s there, with what appear to be all of the other colours.

DP: The books we read are predominantly made of holograms.

MP: Highlights include Olivier Schrauwen’s 6-page contribution. A comic where an amateur technician, Armand Schrauwen, desperately tries to communicate from 1986 (via time machine) with a nameless, bald, epicurean citizen of the future, whose path crosses with his for a time. If you haven’t heard of Schrauwen, he has a book called Arsene Schrauwen coming out later this year through Fantagraphics Books that will be the best comic book that’s ever been released.

 

Image: Olivier Schrauwen

 

DP: You mean in 2014?

MP: Oh, yes. It’s probably been out for a while… for you. Have you read it?

DP: Is it on Hologram?

MP: I don’t know how I would know that.

DP: Well no, I haven’t.

 

Image: Lala Albert

 

MP: Lala Albert’s 6-page “Educational Demo” is another particularly interesting piece. It’s about some people who live in an ultra arid future world, and they’re talking about water, and I don’t wanna give too much away because I don’t like it when people just talk about plot, but hey there’s a Demonstration of some kind, which leads to something Educational. It’s a really nice comic.

DP: Okay.

 

Image: Angie Wang

 

MP: Without naming everybody, there are also some great pieces in the book by Angie Wang, C.F., Stefan Sadler & Jon Chandler, Simon Hanselmann, Blaise Larmee, Lando, Sammy Harkham, and Joe Kessler.

 

Image: Sammy Harkham

 

DP: I don’t really know why you came here.

MP: The anthology’s tagline was “Comics for THIS present”, and the reason I’m here is to review the cultural worth of an item that is so concerned with “THIS present”, considering that soon it will no longer be “THIS present,” it will be “the future” or “THAT present,” or you may have a different name for it in your time.

DP: Well, we call it “THIS present”.

MP: Oh, how peculiar. I assumed you would’ve changed the name, but I guess that’s fine. Who am I to go against the greatest minds of “THIS present”?

DP: So I just read it while you were talking, because you were talking slowly. There’s a lot of pessimism that I’m picking up in this book, did you pick that up?

MP: I guess?

 

Image: Lando

 

DP: Even though the initial sub-title was “Trans-Hopeless”?

MP: Well, editor Hugh Frost actually almost addresses that in an interview where he says, “Part of the original direction was taken from Mark Fisher’s idea of breaking out of cyclical ‘hedonic depression,’ to move beyond hopelessness, as our ill-fated working title TRANS-HOPELESS suggested.”

But I guess, when they started getting submissions coming in, you can never be sure of what you will get back, and understandably, it was dropped by the wayside in the final product.

DP: Well I think it’d have to be, hopelessness and “hedonic depression” appear to be recurring themes in the anthology.

MP: I don’t really know if you can blame anyone though, it’s pretty dark out there.

 

Image: Aidan Koch

 

DP: I guess so, it’s just strange for an anthology with the tagline “Comics for THIS present” and the theme “An exploration of the ways in which network technologies mediate our experience of each other and our surroundings” to feel so dark. It seems like a lot of the comics exude a hopelessness that I guess was probably synonymous with moods culturally at the time. If people were so afraid of authoritarian control in those days, why did they allow it to get that bad? Does it serve as a full exploration of the ways in which network technologies mediated your experience of each other and your surroundings? Was it really that dark?

MP: Well, the editor Hugh Frost said editing comic anthologies was “…like capturing a specific moment / time / place…” Which was more of a response to a question about the their (Hugh Frost and Leon Sadler’s) roles as editors, but I guess it fits in with what you were saying about moods. I guess any collection of art from a period of time will tell you something about “moods.”

Wait, shouldn’t you know if it was that bad? Why do you have so many questions about the past?

DP: Oh, I don’t know much. This simulation was activated shortly after your time, I’m just software written to respond like your daughter.

MP: What?

DP: I do live out a full life though, here on this satellite, orbiting the now lifeless, burning husk of Earth.

MP: Oh my…

DP: There are also some funny things in the book, and it is very colourful.

MP: It is, isn’t it?

DP: It is.

MP: Thank you for your time.

 

Mould Map 3, edited by Hugh Frost and Leon Sadler, is available through Landfill Editions.