MOME Interview 1: Paul Hornschemeier

gg: You have an elliptical narrative technique, where things are implied more than they’re stated. Actions almost speak louder than words. Were you influenced by anything in particular, or did you just come upon that as your natural way of…

{mosimage}ph: I don’t know, I think I’ve been realizing more and more that that was actually really heavily influenced by Edward Gorey, because he really does that in his books a lot. I’ve just been reading all the books that I have of his. I was actually reading some interviews with him and realizing “Huh, this was something that was massively important to him,” that he said was influenced more by Japanese sort of storytelling. To me, what was interesting was not showing, and what you didn’t show speaking volumes more than loud, obvious reality… Because most of life is just interpretation and assumption and extrapolation from things where we don’t necessarily know what was going on. I think that’s always been something that’s been more intriguing to me and a natural way to tell a story, because you don’t walk into a room where people turn and say flatly, “Oh, well, this is what is happening in my innermost mental life.” And you don’t say, “Ah, well, that makes me angry that you say that,” and you know, [laughs] what you really get is one facial expression, and then the person reaches for their glass and their hand shakes a little bit, and then you have to go to the bathroom because you had Mexican, but they don’t know that, they think you’re mad. [Laughs.] What an idiotic scenario that was, but you get the point. You’re never getting all the facts handed to you. That’s how things work, I guess. That’s always seemed like the best way to tell things for me. And it keeps it fun for me writing it.

gg: What cartoonists in your peer group do you have the most kinship to?

ph: Well, direct kinship is obviously Jeff Brown, I hang out with him all the time. As far as people’s work I just absolutely love, I think John Pham is one of the most ingenius people working in comics today. Unfortunately, If I go on listing names, it’s going to sound like I’m trying to sell MOME.

Jeff obviously is a huge influence on me because we are constantly trying to kick each other in the ass as far as, “You need to concentrate on this,” to which the other replies “Well, what about this? Why don’t you try this?”

I feel that most of the people I’m friends with,we all have this, I don’t know what it is exactly, it’s this need to push comics forward somehow. We’re all doing it in very different ways, but I think there’s some sort of feeling that “OK, we know what’s already been done, let’s really try to do something a little bit different,” but at the same time, really incorporating a lot of the things that have come before.

gg: You think you’re conscious of trying to do something fresh and —

ph: I think so. I think at the same time we’re all trying to figure out, “How do we really make this the most honest means of personal expression that we can?”

{mosimage}I do think the one thing that I’ve certainly noticed is pulling, and I think actually it was either John Pham or Sammy Harkham that was talking about this, really pulling influences from just everywhere; from film; from music; obviously other cartoonists, but modern illustrators, painters, things like that. Me and Jeff, for instance, I know he’s more influenced by German Expressionism and things like that. I find myself really influenced by British animation from the ’60s and stuff like that, so it’s all over the place.

gg: What were your influences, outside of comics?

ph: I really love old animation, not exceptionally old animation though there’s a lot of great stuff there, but a lot of the animation that was happening in the ’60s, ’70s, stuff like that.

gg: God, what would that be? [Ralph] Bakshi?

ph: Well, no not particularly.

gg: Sixties and ’70s.

ph: Well, some of the stuff is even later than that. A lot of the stuff that Jay Ward worked on, like Rocky and Bullwinkle. Rocky and Bullwinkle just, oh my God, half the stuff I draw is either a Muppet or Rocky and Bullwinkle rip off.

gg: Well, Jay Ward was great.

ph: Oh yeah, absolutely. Actually, something I’ve been realizing more and more had a huge influence on me was a lot of stuff that [Jules] Rankin and [Arthur] Bass [Jr.] did, sort of the weird stop-motion model animation, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and stuff like that. Richard Williams’ The Thief and the Cobbler, though of course I only have the butchered version. But one thing that just absolutely destroyed my mind at a young age was Heinz Edelmann’s designs in The Yellow Submarine animation. I don’t know why they aired that thing. It aired several times, too, and we didn’t have cable, but we would go to our grandmother’s house, and I remember that thing being on a couple times and it did not do good things to my head. Yeah, I think that’s something that’s affected me.