New review for Smoo #5 from Rob Clough

New review from Rob CloughforSmoo #5. He writes:

"… Moreton’s increasingly confident voice and line have made his quiet, reflective and poetic comics a rich and rewarding experience… When drawing figures, he has a new economy of line that gets across the bare minimum of human details but still does a tremendous job with gesture and body language so as to convey emotion."

You can read the full review here. You can buy the comic from my shop.

Smoo #4 and The Escapologist #2 Reviewed by Rob Clough

Two of my comics have been reviewed by Rob Clough at High/Low. Of Smoo #4 he says, “Moreton takes the reader on a recapitulation of his perceptual journey of Marlow, going from the awe of childhood to the contempt of his teenage years to the ways in which he and his friends tried to create meaning. The revelations Moreton provides about his sense of growing old externally but not feeling it internally are not especially innovative, but that does not diminish the impact of the revelation as he feels it, nor the beautiful way that he expresses it on the page”. Here is a page from that comic:

Of The Escapologist #2, he says: “this is a comic about being from a particular place and knowing particular people, and how the sum total of our personality is constructed in part by our relationships with others. It’s a short and sweet depiction of a feeling and a sense of loss, of being connected and feeling apart.”

He also reviews recent work by Derik Badman and Jenny Zervakis. Having actually read the other comics Rob has reviewed, I can also whole-heartedly recommend chasing them up. Speaking of which, if you’d like to chase my comics up, look no further as you can buy both these titles here.

Why not buy some comics? New review of The Escapologist #2

Richard Bruton of the Forbidden Planet International blog has reviewed The Escapologist #2. Richard has been very supportive of my work in the past, and this is review is no exception. He writes,

"… there’s just an irresistible pull to [the images], they draw me in, over and over and over. Each image has meaning no doubt, but it’s the beauty of the image in isolation and the cumulative effect that wins me over. I could stare happily at each panel for so long, lost in the ideas it helps form as my own thoughts wander and fly, connecting, imagining."

Above all, he seems to derive from the zine what it intends to give, which is very encouraging:

"Repeated readings / viewings don’t necessarily glean new information, but they do encourage my mind to wander, reflective and open, a glorious, uplifting experience brought out by such simple lines, but so beautifully done."

You can read the full review here. Issues #1 and #2 are available from my shop for just £1.50 (ppd, UK) or £2.50 (ppd everywhere else). If you order now, you may very well get them before Christmas…

The Escapologist #1 gets reviewed…

…this time by Kevin of Optical Sloth. Kevin has said nice things about Smoo in the past (and in fact, may well have been the first person to ever publish a review of one of my comics). It’s also nearing the ten (TEN!) year anniversary of his work reviewing comics online. Might I suggest you head over there, browse his review archive and maybe even pick up a couple of comics from his store while you’re at it? Y’know, just to say thanks.

Anyway, this time round, seems like Kevin enjoyed The Escapologist. In particular, he concludes his review by writing,

"…to me this comic was both a chance to escape for a minute or two (as the title implies) while also contemplating the manner in which the entire world fits together. That’s damned tricky to accomplish, and it may or may not have been what he was shooting for, but that’s what I saw."

This makes me very happy, because what Kevin describes is exactly what I’m shooting for with this one. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing and sometimes I don’t know whether people read the same thing that I write (which is a whole philosophical can of worms which I won’t open here), but knowing at least a few people dig it in the way it’s intended makes it all worthwhile.

As for the rest of the series, three pages of #3 loosely pencilled: #2 due end of September. No idea how long it’ll go on for, but it will end at some point.

Thanks, Kevin!

Sorry Entertainer gets reviewed

The Sorry Entertainer gets a review from Justin Giampaoli! He writes:

The Sorry Entertainer (Things In Panels): The Bristol-based duo of Simon Moreton and Nick Soucek join the newsprint revivalist movement, and I’ll say that I was immediately sold when I read that the contributors included Noah Van Sciver and Lauren Barnett. They are two of my favorite mini-comics creators working in the industry today. Noah’s done-in-one crime story is an effective storytelling tutorial about concise functionality. Paddy Lynch’s piece was full of inky emotion, Thom Ferrier examines our knee-jerk inclination to document everything we see in the New Media Era, and we get a big full page of Rock N’ Roll ‘Restling from David Ziggy Greene. It’s a thing of rare beauty, full of influences from people like Sammy Harkham, Brandon Graham, and Paul Pope. Chris Fairless dazzles with ink washes, and Sam Spina playfully addresses audience expectations, while Richard Worth and Jordan Cullver display a beautiful turn of the century aesthetic, which is a tad hard to read due to the scale. There’s actually a lot more, but those are my favorites. Simply put, this is the way to do an anthology. It doesn’t matter that there really isn’t a unifying theme, and it doesn’t matter that some of the creators are more popular or bigger names than some of the others. They key is that you find really good pieces, you put them in a unique format, and suddenly you’ve accomplished that rare feat, an anthology with few, if any, weak links. I hope we can look forward to future installments of this venture. Grade A.”

Review of the Escapologist #1!

This short review is from Mr Justin Giampaoli: Thanks Justin!

"The Escapologist (Self-Published): Simon Moreton has really been improving his craft lately, and The Escapologist is no exception. The style is full of his usual intricate fine line, with generous backgrounds and crosshatching technique on display. Where he really pours it on is the confidence with which he tells the story. There are several pages without any sort of dialogue, all capturing the disconnect between body and soul. It seems he’s fascinated by our ability to consciously experience the world around us with these different parts of our being. There’s even some suggestion that reality is merely an illusion, being a man-made construct. It’s a terribly quick read, but extremely thought-provoking, and I quite liked it. Grade A.”

I think this sums up pretty much what I’m trying to achieve with The Escapologist. But don’t forget: unlike my other mini-comics, The Escapologist is a serial, and the story will be building across a fair few issues, the second of which will be available soon.

New review for Smoo #3

There’s a new review of Smoo #3 up on Optical Sloth. Kevin writes…

"It’s depressing to think that this comic only has a print run of 50 copies. Oh sure, Simon can always make more, and he has plenty of free comics up at his website, so it’s not like his work is barely visible. Still, it’s a sad testament to a lack of any sort of financial reward for doing really exceptional work."

Read the full review here.

I’ve printed some copies of Smoo #3, so do take the plunge and order if you’re curious - we are in stock! As for Optical Sloth, it’s a great resource for minicomics fans - and I’m saying that as a reader, not a creator. You should go check it out!

Black-jawed Living Room Couch Professor

Here are some things beginning with ‘S’ that I’ve been enjoying of late. First up is Sam Spina. I traded some comics with him recently, and oh my, did I enjoy them. He also does illustration work, and has done a piece for our Sorry Entertainer Newspaper Anthology. It’s awesome. Anyway, here’s how Sam welcomed in the New Year:

© 2010/2011 Sam Spina

I’ve also been listening to Sam Amidon (that counts as an ‘S’, right?). He’s been revisiting a variety of old American folk music traditions, updating them for a more contemporary audience - but the way the music emerges goes beyond ‘playin’ the classics’; it becomes timeless, visceral, intimate, old and new, all at once. Plus, I am a sucker for a banjo. His last release, All is Well, is fantastic. His newest, I see the Sign, arrived on my desk this morning, and I expect it to be similarly good. He’s good. He also draws comics sometimes.

© 2011 Sam Amidon

I’m also very much listening to a great deal of Sebadoh, because Sebadoh are amazing. So there.

More about Smoo news, coming soon.

A year in comics

The year so far

Oh, 2010! What a year you’ve been for Smoo. To start with, it has been, almost to the day, a whole calendar year since I started distributing Smoo with any sense of commitment. We were in Amsterdam visiting friends, and I stopped into Lambiek, sweatily clutching five copies of Smoo #2 and building up the courage to approach the shopkeepers. Thus began the publishing and distributing powerhouse that is Things in Panels.

Since then my confidence to distribute and have strangers actually read my comic has grown: we’ve had tables at Bristol International Comic and Small Press Expo, and Thoughtbubble 2010, I’ve got stuff in shops, and even people I’ve never met have been using my online shop to buy things. This is an exciting development. I’ve also managed to publish Smoo #2, Smoo #2 1/2, finish Lisbon, compile and publish my old diary comics, and complete Smoo #3. Quite productive, I guess - and the reviews have been good, too (in fact, there’s a new review up for Smoo #3 from Matthew Murray. You can read it here.)

In other news, I finished my PhD and ran a half-marathon too, both of which I can say with some confidence will be one-time events. Running is a silly idea at the best of times, and running a long way is a very silly idea. However, a lot of people did a lot of silly running for a lot of good causes, and I’m glad I could help in some small way. But that is by the by. This is about comics.

What next?

See, I’m a sucker for the idea of the New Year: fresh starts, reinvigorated after the holidays for the onset of January and the rest of the year. Just as well really, because no matter how many times and in how many ways I list the things I have accomplished this year, I must say I don’t feel as though I’ve done that much: I’ve got so much more that I want to do, but don’t really know what that ‘more’ is or how to go about doing it. I got a bit overwhelmed towards the end of this year with various working and self-imposed comic-pressure, but a good bout of the flu helped me stop, take stock and calm down.

So what are my plans for the New Year? In the short-term, we’ve got The Sorry Entertainer anthology to put together and get printed - we’re aiming to get it released sometime in May: I’m working one or two submissions for other people’s anthologies, so we’ll see happens there: we have tables at the Small Press Expos in London in March and Bristol in May. We’re also trying to organise our own event here in Bristol, but more on that another time.

But what about Smoo #4? Well, I’ve reached a funny sort of impasse here: I don’t really know what I want to achieve with my next issue of Smoo. The amazing thing about self-publishing is that it can be anything I’d like it to be: the annoying thing about self-publishing is that it can be anything I’d like it to be (i.e. too many options). So what will happen next? What stories will I tell? Comics? Writing? Poems? Autobiography? Fiction? To be honest, I really don’t know, but it might be something quite different - and equally, it might be more of the same. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Happy 2010. I’m off to think about things some more. I’ll see you on the other side.