by Simon M.
Not a comic for those wanting something fast paced and action packed, or indeed those wanting a story, since Smoo is a collection of short, introspective pieces by the artist where nothing much happens and the dialogue is all through think pieces from the artist’s head.
In Smoo #2, Simon M gets a haircut, goes walking, goes thinking, reflects on his place in the world, remembers a tale of a cat and a vole and the need to put the vole out of it’s misery once the cat had had it’s way, then spends some time on a sofa fretting about an argument with a loved one.
And that’s about it. Nothing monumental, no plot to speak of, just ideas, moments, thoughts on paper. But the important thing is that they’re good thoughts, interesting thoughts, all contributing to the cumulative mood of the piece.
I first saw Simon M’s work in Rob Jackson’s recent Gin Palace anthology, where he has a slight “man tries to get served in a bar” strip that was enough to get me to seek out more based purely on the strength of his art, specifically the interesting layouts he adopted. But one page into Smoo, right there on the inside front cover and I think I may have made a mistake, since the strip is a mess of bad layout, starting mid right of the page and then rolling anti-clockwise to tell the story. No, no, no.
Thankfully, that’s an aberration and everything after that merely reinforces the promise I saw in the Gin Palace strip. The art’s spot on from there on in, full of detail but playful, with panels that flow very nicely in unusual ways across the pages. It’s light, open panel style, short on blacks is very much in the style of Adam Cadwell and Marc Ellerby (certainly no bad thing). And there’s some delicious turns of phrase throughout Smoo, as Simon drifts and thinks and contemplates his way through the pages giving the whole comic a reflective, near dreamlike state.
The book ends with Schrodinger, just 4 pages and 5 panels long, but the perfect distillation of everything I enjoyed about Smoo; very understated art, yet full of interesting visual effects and important/inconsequential extras, and a relaxed internal monologue as Simon contemplates the morning after the unresolved arguament the night before in the moments before his girlfriend wakes up.
Smoo # 2 is the only thing Simon M has in print right now and the two issues of Smoo so far have taken a few years to put out. Jobs, real life and everything else gets in the way of course, but something this impressive really needs to be on a more regular schedule. Smoo#2 is available from Simon M – get in touch through his website.