Dôme is a 28 x 35,5 cm anthology published by French collective Lagon together with Breakdown Press. Wonderfully printed in risograph and handbound during the latest Angoulême festival in the presence of the majority of the featured artists, it collects in only 40 pages the work of 17 cartoonists among the most intriguing artists of the contemporary comics scene: Lando, Amanda Baeza, Simon Hanselmann, Jeremy Perrodeau, Bettina Henni, Sammy Stein, Dash Shaw, Hugo Ruyant, Antoine Cossé, Michael DeForge, Zoe Taylor, Amandine Meyer, Olivier Schrauwen, Alexis Beauclair, Jean-Philippe Bretin, Joe Kessler, Richard Short.
Olivier Schrauwen’s cover depicts indeed an ultramodern dome in opposition to a vague and mysterious external space. And we could say most of the stories take place inside or outside this dome, since the majority of the comics deal with the idea of “space” and with the dualisms between inside/outside and appearance/reality. Space is sometimes varied, indefinite and enigmatic as in Synesthésie by Hugo Ruyant, sometimes suggestively architectural as in the two pages in positive/negative by Jean-Philippe Bretin. The pond chosen by Lando for the three beautiful opening pages of the book is instead the territory of a game between prehistory and the near future, beautifully illustrated in detail.
In La Lettre Sammy Stein opens windows to boundless horizons in the screen of a smartphone while Antoine Cossé in his one-pager succeeds to tell a story of an extramarital affair representing the inside/outside combination through the huge glass window of a hotel room.
Still far from being monothematic, Dôme also showcases contributions by artists who, despite some concessions to the general feeling, insist on their own poetics: it’s the case of DeForge with the story of two angry and ungrateful children, Dash Shaw with the cosplayer girls already seen in the Fantagraphics series of the same name, Schrauwen breaking the borders of everyday paranoia with 140 panels in two pages, Hanselmann who pulls out of the hat three more irresistible pages of Megg, Mogg, Owl and Werewolf Jones, this time tabling at a Zine Fair.
Joe Kessler and Richard Short deserve a particular mention, as they blend the style of their books for Breakdown, Windowpane and Klaus Magazine, in Paws for Thought, full of dogs, cats, and dynamic shapes: the second and the third pages are particularly great, representing in shades of yellow, red and blue a dog running in the background of a hilly landscape.
Embellished by the idea of reiterating in the central pages an appendix of the different stories as single strips, Dôme is the best anthology of recent years thanks to the exceptional ability of the editors (Alexis Beauclair, Joe Kessler, Sammy Stein) to summarize in a few pages the greatest virtues of contemporary comics. If the eighth Kramers Ergot lacked an overall view, if Mould Map #3 over-indulged in an old-fashioned cyber aesthetics, if Volcan was a bit dispersive, Dôme in just 40 pages gives an example of a really rare aesthetic coherence.
The anthology, printed in 500 copies with a 25 EUR cover price, is currently sold out at Lagon but some copies will be available through Breakdown Press at the upcoming Millionaires’ Club in Leipzig, TCAF in Toronto, ELCAF and Safari Festival in London.