Summary: An unusually usual day-to-day story in the Deep South, set in the gothic, swampy southern town of Wet Moon, a place fraught with lousy love lives, teen angst, and shadowy rednecks.
As Cleo Lovedrop heads off for college at the local art school, she’s haunted by her melancholic past: a lost love, a lost child. Friends and enemies live their lives around her, as trouble and dissent brews amongst them: an unseen social assailant spreads slander about Cleo, she is forced to deal with her two brusque roommates, and discovers unsolved mysteries about the girl who lived in her room previously. Elsewhere, Trilby deals with unsettled emotional and sexual issues, and keeping her secret habits hidden from everyone. And Audrey comes to the realization that, despite all her efforts, she always causes her friends distress, while Fern, a peculiar, deformed girl who lives in an isolated mansion in the bayous, begins to notice Cleo and her friends. As the moon grows full and lunar rays shine down, lunacy and moon-calves run free.
Goths, friendship, romance, sex, betrayal, gossip, cats, murder, guilt, a squirrel monkey, and all the terrible and wonderful things people do to each other.
Wet Moon, vol. 1, by Ross Campbell 7.5
It’s only in recent weeks that I discovered that ‘Wet Moon’ existed. Even though it was originally published a decade ago, and that it appears to be an ongoing series (the most recent offering, Book 6, was released in 2012), somehow it never made it onto my radar – even at a time when I hung out with a lot more goth friends.
But late to the party I am, and I found this first volume at a local second-hand bookstore. I hesitated before buying it, given that I knew absolutely nothing about it (buying a graphic novel for the art alone is short-sighted), and ended up getting it from the library instead. The good ol’ library… always there to save the day.
Having had my fill of ‘Chew‘, I was looking for another quirky book to change things up from my series of gritty Brubaker/Phillips crime books. Based on the wonderful black and white artwork, which showed signs of a small degree of silliness between the covers, and the fact that the characters are from different subcultures, I thought this might do the trick.
It certainly did: while it’s nowhere as nutty as ‘Chew’ was in even its most sober moments, ‘Wet Moon’ was rather quirky, and amusing.
Our story takes us to the town of Wet Moon and is primarily set in a local art college that Cleo and her best friends Audrey, Mara and Trilby are attending. It introduces us to each of them and sets up the various dynamics, with roommates, siblings, exes, and casual acquaintances all making their appearances throughout the book.
The story is relatively mundane, consisting mostly of our protagonist, Cleo, and her friends hanging out, shooting the shit and talking trash. It’s a pretty accurate account of how some young adults are: insecure, flailing about wildly in life, trying to find their place in the world and trying to surround themselves with people who care about them.
I adored the artwork. There’s so much detail on the page; it’s rather impressive. While the proportions were sometimes off (ex: all the characters have stubby thumbs, and their mouths often open far too wide), the style is delicious. I had a hard time imagining that Campbell wrote, drew and inked this whole book by himself. That must be so time-consuming.
In particular, I really enjoyed seeing references to bands that only a few people I know have even heard of. The countless nods to The Birthday Massacre and Bella Morte was simply astounding to me. How had he heard of them? Does he have goth affinities himself? Or does he simply immerse himself in his fictional world so well that he understands it?
But, even more amazing, is how adoringly he poses his characters and lights them. He really does seem to love them in some fashion. The fact is that many of them are not traditionally beautiful people, but he embraces every fold, every imperfection as though these characters were perfect, as a parent would love even their ugliest offspring.
It’s this ultimate acceptance and the “warts and all” approach that Campbell brings to this world that makes it such a joy to read. I love how real it felt. I may not have purchased the book merely at first glance, but it’s on my radar now, and I look forward to finding the full set someday. I plan to explore ‘Wet Moon’ in depth.