April 26, 2016

Abbreviating the Moment: A Review of Simon Moreton’s MINOR LEAGUES #1

Much of our life is spent trying to recapture that which we missed: moments lived but not appreciated, instances of importance we misunderstood, people we loved but didn’t understand, places we inhabited but never called home. Such is the stuff that infuses the work of Simon Moreton and is the focus of his latest zine, Minor Leagues #1.

Minor Leagues seems to be the next step in Moreton’s development as an artist. It is the spiritual successor to his long-running zine Smoo, combining short prose and poetry with his beautiful abbreviations of comic panels. Moreton’s art is as much about conveying the movement of moments as it is a paring down to the essentials of form necessary to convey both meaning and heart. A wisp of an inked gesture in Moreton’s hands is enough to convey the unremitting sense of time passing and what it leaves in its wake. There is a profound isolation to his art, and its limited line-work only serves to carry the weight of this sensibility -- as if the page would buckle if he were to apply any more. What he leaves out, the reader can only help but to fill in and, in that moment of connection, understand instinctively that which Moreton feels as well.

Adding ballast to the mood of this zine is Moreton’s prose, short pieces that contribute poignancy in their realization of how junctures in one’s life elicit insight into the past. Lovers are far away. Friendships were formative. Life is fleeting. Change is inevitable. Through Moreton’s lens, we are reminded of how much we understand where we are when we finally understand what we have been through.

Sometimes the indelible mark of experience is only seen in reflection.

But it is the silence within which Moreton frames his work that makes the gravity of this truth so welcoming. There is no hand-wringing or wailing into the night sky in Minor Leagues #1. Rather, herein there is a quietness of acceptance, an affirmation and acquiescence to what is, not so much a longing for what could have been. The scarcity of his drawing and the precision of his prose emphasize the present while looking to the past, and in all of Moreton’s restraint, a particular beauty is uncovered.

It is affirmation through understanding, a concise picture of an artist in his life, in the landscape in which he lives.

At the end of last year, I picked Moreton’s Plans We Made from Uncivilized Books as one of the best comics published in 2015. Minor Leagues #1 clearly indicates that Moreton continues to grow as an artist in his facility to convey the universal through the personal. His ability to hush the cacophony in order to abbreviate the importance of reflection is extraordinary.

In an age where we are given less and less time and quiet in order to process and comprehend, Minor Leagues #1 serves as an important reminder of what we have begun to lose in our haste to move forward. The opportunity to pause, to reconsider, to celebrate, and to appreciate is, perhaps, the most valuable commodity there is. It is a richness available to us all, and yet so often we forget we own it in the first place. Simon Moreton helps us cash that check.

For more on the work of Simon Moreton visit his site here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.

To purchase Minor Leagues #1, visit his online store here.

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