Thursday, May 25, 2017

Moreton Of The Week, #4: Days

Days, from Avery Hill, is a collection of some of Moreton's earliest work with his Smoo series, issues four through six. As much as I enjoy Moreton in minicomic form, it was nice to look at these pages blown up and breathing a bit more. That's especially true since Moreton's earlier work depended a lot more on naturalism and detail than his current comics. I reviewed issue four here, and issue five here. I wanted to talk about the sixth issue, the supplemental material and overall what's changed with Moreton's work since his earlier days.

I had forgotten how much more naturalistic Moreton's work was in his early comics. The houses he draws had not yet been abstracted to geometric shapes, and he actually drew in things like bricks and windows. You could see him leaning toward the John Porcellino side of the fence and allowing his work to become more immersive and poetic, but he wasn't quite there yet. Still, there's plenty to see and hear: Moreton's smudged pencil technique is incredibly evocative, and his voice was still similar in the way that he processed the past and pain in particular. Issue five was the first fully realized comic he did, as it was conceptually more sophisticated, funnier and in general more daring than his past work.

The sixth issue features work that most closely resembles his current output as an artist. It opens with a classic Moreton "walk" comic, as we see the world stripped down as he passes by. One nice flourish is how he imagines he hears his Husker Do song coming out of every window, with blank word balloons emanating from them. The next story is rare in that it features some incredibly detailed drawing from Moreton in the form of water on sidewalks and the way the sun catches them to create blurry reflections. Matching that particular bit of naturalism with the slightly abstracted surroundings made the effect all the more prominent. "Houses/Homes" is a nice silent poem aided by simplification in showing how the process of moving puts one in a strange limbo state, until order (symbolized by a hot mug of tea) is finally restored and a new steady-state is established. "Routines" starts with typical Moreton solitude on a walk and ends with a swirl of lines representing a crowd surrounding his figure, head slightly bowed so as to avoid direct interaction. "Holiday" combines those lovely smudges with his stripped down figures; it was actually beautiful enough on its own visually to not need the text.

With regard to the anthology pieces, the earlier ones are very pencil-heavy. Some of them look fairly stiff, even if the actual technique is aesthetically pleasing. A strip he did for Secret Acres' Leon Avelino that's drawings inspired by a Pixies song is excellent: fluid and striped-down. A strip he did for Kus is unusually dramatic and calculated (it's about trying to get out of an office and into the woods, where the main character can paint), especially since as Moreton notes in the helpful endnotes that making a distinction between work and art can create a false dichotomy. I'm glad that Moreton had all of this material collected, because it's fascinating to watch his voice develop and see him make leaps of quality from issue to issue. He experimented with a lot of different approaches before he found one that worked for him.

No comments:

Post a Comment