Review: A year in miniature… SMOO #8

Published On March 18, 2015 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

SMOO issue 8

By Simon Moreton.

smoo8-cover

My word, it’s been eighteen months since SMOO issue 7. So long. Too long. I hadn’t noticed the gap purely because we’ve had the Days collection and Moreton’s successful Kickstarter for new book Plans We Made in the interim. But the drought is over now, SMOO issue 8 is available right now, 36-pages including covers and a gorgeous fold-out middle page, and it’s a pleasure to report it’s everything I love in Moreton’s work, everything and more in fact, eighteen months providing both content and improvement to Moreton’s already fine craft.

SMOO#8 is a year in Moreton’s life, September ’13 to September ’14, a year told in emotional shorthand, a year told in minimal art, a year of so much; bird-watching in Washington DC, walking in urban Brooklyn, thinking, drinking, wildlife, relationships, sadness. Moreton calls it “sort of scrappy but honest” but I call it beautiful, emotional, elegiac, a melancholic piece of reflection that ultimately lifts the spirit high.

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The comic is broken into five months, five short movements, five sections of a year, of a life, of trauma, grief, recovery, a year of a relationship failing.

September‘ sees Moreton alone and wandering…

“I think I knew..
what was coming…
but…
somehow…
it was ok…”

That’s the entirety of the narrative here, twelve words across twelve panels, but it encapsulates all that is so good about his work, the sparsity of both image and text isn’t something that upsets, or feels too slight, no, the sparsity encourages, forces even, the reader to glean every tiny bit of meaning from the page, even line, every word, analysed, pored over, the resulting cumulative experience incredibly powerful, the imagery given added meaning, added beauty. I love Simon Moreton’s work because it gives me so much, it rewards my reading, it lightens my spirit. That final “It was ok” is a revelatory moment, a simple walk abroad, you read into the words what you want at this point, but the impact is joyous. That’s the power of these few words, these few lines.

December‘ finds the artist in the end-times of a relationship, the art de-constructed, the words falling apart, a clever effect….

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February‘ deals with the fallout, the depression, the drink not helping, but the double page centre-spread, of ghostly shapes inhabiting a bar, empty vessels, devoid of anything but the most basic of form, is incredible imagery, whilst the words are desolate things, the pain coming through so clear. You open up that centre-spread, unfold the bar scene, and the sheer isolation and desperation claws at you. Thankfully, by ‘August‘ and a second ‘September’, things have recovered somewhat, the cycle of loss, grief, recovery nearing completion. Moreton’s imagery in the final parts still simplistic yet meaningful, lines dense with information, his own image more detailed than recent imagery…

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It says something about the emotional involvement of reader in the art that just that line “the weight of a year lifting” can ease worries and lighten a mood. But that’s so true of Moreton’s work, it gets inside, affects you, makes you care. It’s powerful, emotional stuff. These are small comics, but they have a impact of something huge. Beautiful work once more.

Smoo Issue 8 is an A6 b&w comic, with a fold-out centre spread and is available from Moreton at his online web shop.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

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