Sequential State – the comics criticism archive of Alex Hoffman

Review: Hotel Rompo by Talya Modlin

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the comics work published in 2016. I think, despite the generally accepted fact that the year was horrible, the creative output for the year, especially in comics, was startlingly good. One of my favorite comics from 2016 is Hotel Rompo, a 3 foot accordion book from Perfectly Acceptable Press. The book is three color risoprint on one side, one-color comics on the other, and contained in a semitransparent, screenprinted, hand numbered sleeve. I reviewed another Perfectly Acceptable comic earlier this year and talked about the quality of the print object, but Hotel Rompo is quite possibly the most beautifully constructed comic I’ve seen this year.

Hotel Rompo is a hedonistic fever dream, part Hieronymus Bosch painting, part Where is Waldo illustration. Fruit- and vegetable-headed people have sex while onlookers gawk, a small man canoes down a slide made slick with tears (which are later collected in tea cups), a woman argues with a frog, and bathers hang out by and in a heated pool while the news plays from a TV floating in the pool. These are just a few selected images from the beautiful book. The oddness of the physical object, its stature and its size, seem perfect for the fantasies contained within. The risograph colors are blended from yellow, navy blue, and fluorescent pink, so the entire book has a faux-CMYK look to it. Hotel Rompo screams color and vibrancy. 

On the back side of the book, scenes from the front are fleshed out with loosely drawn comics. A woman at the top right hand of the illustration gets a long backstory; as she stares into her own reflection, she reflects on her memories and the people she has met, including an old boyfriend. Three stories out of 50, maybe 100 characters in the comic. The effect is that of a broadening. By giving a selection of characters their own stories, the rest of Modlin’s cast is given depth because, surely if these characters have a story, then so do all the others.

If you can find a copy, Hotel Rompo is a feast for the eyes. Recommended.

Talya Modlin is an artist based in Chicago. You can check out more comics at Modlin’s website. You can also find more from the Perfectly Acceptable catalogue here – @perfectlyacceptablepress

(Images for this review were taken from the Perfectly Acceptable Press website because my scanner does not capture fluorescent pink risograph ink)


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