Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Moreton Of The Week #2: Rain and What Happened

Catching up with some more by Simon Moreton:

What Happened. A Kilgore Books release (one of my favorite small publishers around), leans heavily on Warren Craghead in terms of some of the actual drawings, but in terms of composition it's very much something else. Like Craghead, Moreton uses a lot of extremely thick lines in his drawings as a weigh of emphasizing weight, space and presence. They are deliberately non-naturalistic, as they are designed to make the reader think about that space and the drawing that's there than actually represent something. He uses zip-a-tone for similar reasons. Moreton messes around a lot with different grid designs, going from a four panel grid in the early going to an open-page layout on facing pages and back to the four-panel grid. When the storyline took on a slightly added level of complexity, Moreton quietly went with a six-panel grid that then filled up the page (he left negative space with the four panel grid). It's all part of the fluid rhythm of the comic, that sensation of rising and falling, of going from calm to excited and back to placid.

The structure of the comic revolves around a spring and summer Moreton spent as a teen. Using very few words, he gets across that amazing feeling when you're old enough to organize activities with your friends, go over to their houses on your own, etc. He also details the ways in which teens are sort of emotional ticking time bombs. There's one scene where Moreton is at a friend's house, and his friend just launches into a brutal brawl with his younger brother, leaving Moreton sitting there stunned. Another finds Simon and his friend Hadyn renting a UFO video that freaks them out; it's one of the two page, open-panel spreads, along with the fight. There are first loves, walks in the woods, trips to the beach, games of football and a glorious concluding segment where Moreton and his friend sit in a car, absorbing the words and music to a song from a tape they put in. Moreton is recording not a season, but rather a chunk of time specific to his friendship, and it ends with this segment, this song, the images and words jumbling together until the memory fades and the book ends with a number of blank panels in a row. Moreton had told the audience "what happened" and no more.

Rain and Other Stories. This is a more spontaneous effort, drawn from cues provided by Moreton's friends. The first story is "Three Transgressions", which Moreton imagined as people in fancy dress jumping fences and climbing through windows. This slightly moodier, darker work from Moreton, but it doesn't quite coalesce as well as his other work, especially since the rhythm of the piece feels off. "Fizzy Drink" goes back to his well of childhood stories, where here the hope of a new soda turns out to be disappointing. It's the opposite of a special childhood memory; it's a memory because of the way it so strong affected the sense of taste. "Rain" is the true highlight of this mini, as it combines a nice looseness in Moreton's line with strong compositions with regard to the buildings and trees (I love the way they almost jut up against the rain), The rain itself is drawn in a simple way that varies in intensity from panel to panel, as we see it batter a pedestrian until the lines get shorter and fewer and the storm goes away. Here, the length of the story really works to its advantage, as it needed to be a bit long to give the shower a real lifespan that has the correct feel, while still whipping across the page quickly enough to follow the story's main figure through the rain. The result is a beautiful, visceral story about watching and experiencing a rainstorm.

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