Paul Hornschemeier was inspired to draw comics by the work of Daniel Clowes, and the indie comics master has clearly been a huge influence. Fans of Clowes’ work will immediately find something familiar in Hornschemeier’s work: in this book, there’s a little less weirdness and a few more straight-forward gags to accompany the Clowes-esque fatalistic sadness and occasionally familiar-looking artistic style.
This beautifully bound hardback book collects some of the strips from Hornschemeier’s Forlorn Funnies comics. They’re an intriguing blend of characters and stories – some just a couple of pages, others significantly longer – that bring together a quirky outlook on life. The design is faultless; the artistry is clean but deeply considered; the humour black, but not so far beyond mirth that it can’t muster a giggle. In fact, we struggle to come up with a better description than Hornschemeier’s own Forlorn Funnies.
The characters on show here are necessarily under-used – there are a lot of them in disparate pieces – but there’s still an overwhelming feeling of depth to some of them, which begs to be explored. We can’t help feeling that a longer piece, with fewer characters examined more closely, would have made for a more satisfying volume: the book is clearly hampered by the limited page counts of the original comics from which the strips have been drawn.
So perhaps this is one for the established Hornschemeier fan. It shows off his talent, his range and his potential. But as a result it feels more like a portfolio of characters for future expansion, rather than a wholesome, deeply satisfying read.
Other titles by Paul Hornschemeier: