Serendipity, my friends. I happened to see Mooncop by Tom Gauld at work, it looked vaguely familiar and like something I would enjoy, and I had a spare half hour, so I read it. And it was great and I’ve now read the only other two I could find at the library and I love Tom Gauld and will have to buy more of his books. You’ve probably seen some of his comics online, he does the often-literature-themed ones with the people who look like this:
So, here are the three books I’ve read so far, all published by Drawn and Quarterly.
The daily rounds of a policeman on the moon. It’s beautiful and quiet and sad and I want to cry while I read it over and over again. Gauld’s art and style are distinctive and his pacing is perfect — he uses a lot of wordless panels to create an atmosphere, all in shades of dark blue, and it feels like every panel has been thoughtfully designed to give you exactly as much plot as you need. The moon, as a science fiction site, tends to be used as a place of stillness and solitude, and that really comes through here. I love it.
This one collects some of Gauld’s weekly comics for The Guardian, like the one above. As you might expect, it can be hit and miss. Some things you’ll find funny or on point, and others won’t connect with you. I still enjoyed the immersion in Gauld’s signature style though, and the opportunity to see more of his work than the handful of comics always circulating on social media. My favorite is the one from the title.
Another graphic novel in much the same style as Mooncop, quiet and minimalist in a way, but this tells the story of David and Goliath from Goliath’s perspective. In this version, Goliath loves admin and can’t fight, but gets pushed out to challenge the Israelites because of his size. Instead of Mooncop‘s dark blue, it’s done in shades of beige with the occasional bit of red. I loved the atmosphere, as always, but this one didn’t have quite the same coherence as Mooncop. When it was over I was angry at David for his sudden brutality against an innocent, but it’s not like Gauld is saying this is what “really” happened, so I’m still not sure what the takeaway was supposed to be. Maybe there isn’t one.
Mooncop was definitely the best of the three, and I may have already found one of the best books I’ll read this year. But all three were very good. Gauld’s colors and timing draw you in and hold you, but his work also has content that wants you to think, if only for the space of a panel. It’s compelling in a lot of ways, and I want all of it. There’s at least one more comic collection, and several other books besides.
Tom Gauld’s website: https://www.tomgauld.com/.