Saturday, December 18, 2010
By Simon M.
The cover to this issue of Smoo promises gorillas, Egyptian gods armed with ray guns, what appears to be a dwarven (dwarfen? My spellcheck is no help) warrior, and a giant monster releasing lots of ghosts. How exciting!
However, while all those things are featured in the comic, they’re not the focal point of a story. Instead Simon leads us through a tale of his anxiety and nervousness, something that many of us (or at least I) can relate to.
Simon’s story drifts in and out of fantasy imaginings, uses flashback interludes to help set the mood, and somehow manages to make a phone call seem interesting. The panels with the phone call feature tentacles of anxiety and swearing swishing around in the background, and appearing all over town, threatening Simon through the idea of what they represent. Simon’s nervousness is also represented in a horrible heartshaped monster that runs around screaming, presumably imitating the pounding of his heart at certain times.
The actual story that Simon tells isn’t that important (though it is a bit frightening just for the apparent randomness of it), what is important is the way he tells it. Simon’s panel layout is inventive and attractive. Panels overlap, are connected by tubes, use nonstandard borders, or sometimes don’t bother with borders at all.
I enjoy the random fantasy elements Simon has included in his story, but I think I would have enjoyed the comic even without them, as they way Simon lays out his pages is really nice and attractive. The interlude section is just landscape pictures, with big skies and telephone poles. But they’re well laid out and match the story that is being told in such a way that they help to put you in the same mindset Simon was in at the time.
I also enjoy the different lettering styles that Simon uses for the various sound effects and styles of speaking.
This isn’t a perfect comic, but I like the craft that Simon has brought to it, and examining the way he’s put it together. I am looking forward to reading more of his comics in the future.