The annual guest Best of the Year posts unfold into the festive season; taking a break from his Yuletide work as one of Santa’s Little Helpers (yes, he cosplays as the dog from the Simpsons) it’s Simon Moreton. You can catch up with the previous BoY guest posts here:
FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Simon: In no particular order:
The End of the Fucking World (ongoing series) (Chuck Forsman) - Oily Comics is an outfit based in Hancock, MA out in the States and masterminded by Chuck Forsman. Every month they put out a bunch of comics, small A6(ish) sized things of around a dozen pages. Chuck’s own story is up to its 12th issue and charts, in a deceptively simple way, the story of teenage runaways, at least one of whom is certainly a killer. It evokes that intoxicating, teen slacker vibe, a cool, calm, detached horror and the intelligence of a well-paced, keenly told tale.
Lou by Melissa Mendes (ongoing series): this one is also an Oily Comic. Mendes’ Lou centres on the titular Lou, her siblings, and their lives in small town America. It’s simply drawn, cartoonish but profound, with a strong heart and a vibe of childhood and play. It’s like a 1980s adventure movie (and I hope Melissa takes that as a compliment).
Laterborn #8 by Jason Martin. Jason Martin draws zines of great weight. Sure, they’re simply drawn, understated autobiographical tales, but they also resonate with a kind of reflective power. They’re important comics but simple and unpretentious. The new issue, his first in a few years, tackles memories of the quotidian; going to work, living and breathing. But he tackles other themes, like mortality, misogyny and religion with a delicate touch. Never preachy, never explicitly invoked, the stories read more like Martin’s experience moving through a world where those things exist, and recognising how it is to be someone in relation to those things.
Extra Time no 1 by Jeff LeVine (yes, that is actually four, but we will let Simon away with as he offered to bribe us with a box of Maltesers -Joe). LeVine works in that soft, contemplative autobiographical vein so dear to me. This comic contains stories from 2007 onwards. Between the gently repetition of imagery in the stories about his routines in his apartment, and the way he renders the vibrancy of the outside world in which he walks, the whole thing is about slowing, living, breathing and changing. I read this book one day when I was feeling very anxious about how complicated things were. Then, suddenly, they didn’t seem so complicated
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Simon: I’m not very good at getting round to reading. I read a lot for work, so actually, comics are a nice antidote to all the big words. That said William Faulkner’s Sanctuary was verbose and dusty and evocative and alarming.
Michael Azerrad’s ‘Our Band Could be Your Life’ is also a good read. It documents the rise of bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Beat Happening, Dinosaur Jr and Minutemen (and more). Once you get past some of the slightly more dated and obsequious descriptions of what the music sounds like, and get to the stories of the people who made it, you have something at once sad and exciting; sad because that time is done, but exciting because DIY punk was about making something new to suit your own needs, not rehashing the past.
The thing I keep coming back to is that DIY punk thing: think about how you live, think about what you can say, think about what you make, and try and live in a way that honours that and those around you. I’m a long way off knowing how to answer those questions but I’m trying. And that’s way I make the comics that I do, the way that I do.
FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Simon: For all the TV I watch I can’t seem to think of anything other than obvious things so I’ll stay quiet on this matter.
FPI: How did 2012 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Simon: This year has been incredible. In January I found out that I had a table at Toronto Comic Arts Festival. I scrambled to get Smoo #5 done in time for the event in May, throwing out my earlier approach and instead adopting the pencils and things I’d started using in Smoo #4 and Derik Badman’s 30 Days Comics last November. Smoo #5 was a very personal account of mental illness and loneliness that I’d been trying to share in comics form for years (you can read Richard’s review here on the blog – Joe). Then it all came out and it was hard, but I think people liked it. I met some amazing cartoonists out in Toronto, too.
I then did a bunch of stuff for anthologies, including š! #11, a comic put out by amazing Latvian publishers Kus!, and containing comics from artists about the theme “Artventurous”. I also got Smoo #6 finished and launched that in New York. I also finally got a job, moved house and could take a breath and look around. It felt like things were crystallising. That’s what Smoo #6 is all about.
But overall, the thing I’m most pleased with this year, is rediscovering drawing. The act of it. Of scribbling, of loving what happens when you try and transfer energy onto a page. Not technical, penciling, inking drawing, but just DRAWING. I’m finding confidence and a voice and that’s amazing for to me. I’m learning all the places that can take you, the things you can learn about everything, and the things you can say, but I’ve got a long time to carry on that learning.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2013?
Simon: In Spring I’ll have a comic coming out on Box Brown’s Retrofit imprint. I’m very excited by that. Also long-time partner in crime, Nick Soucek and I have a story in the up-coming Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends: a collection of unsolved mysteries anthology put out by US imprint Hic and Hoc. I think that’s due out in February. I imagine there’ll be Smoo #7 later in the year. I’ve also got my eye on a couple of other projects, too, but I’ll have to see where my life and my pencil takes me next.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Simon: OILY COMICS!