*Wet Moon: Feeble Wanderings — Recommended

In Ross Campbell’s Wet Moon, Cleo’s just moved into a new dorm room at college. When she and her friends get together, they gossip and worry about what other people think of them. The point of this book isn’t what happens, though, but mood and atmosphere, captured through believable actions and conversation.

The way Campbell draws Cleo is terrific. She’s chunky, a solid presence, but cute, and she looks even younger than she is, emphasizing her vulnerability. Her pierced nose and lip together resemble a gate, keeping her thoughts trapped inside her mouth. Her heavy mary jane shoes and studded belt are typical goth trappings, but on her, they don’t look scary or outrageous, more like remnants of dressing up.

Her friend Trilby combines a nose and multiple ear piercings with braces, making me wonder if she fears magnets. She’s clearly still growing into her interests and personality, adopting this outrageous look to draw attention to herself and because it gives her a group to fit in with. She plays at being aggressive and uncaring, but her gawky tomboy attitude, topped off by mostly shaved head, shows her to be covering for her own uncertainty. She hides one of her favorite hobbies from her friends, afraid of being discovered a geek.

It’s refreshing to see a cast made up of so many different young women with so many varied body types, and they’re all firmly grounded in realistic, detailed settings. Campbell combines the perfect facial expressions with everyday dialogue (or the lack of it, when silence is called for). Everything’s ultimately physical, with the girls joking about the disgusting state of the school restrooms and characters identifying one another by smell. The attention the author pays to outfits and poses is refreshing, especially during a silent scene where Cleo examines her body in the mirror, trying to make herself something other than what she is. Every young woman has done something similar, wanting to reconcile herself with what she’s supposed to be but obviously not.

The clothes are often skimpy, but the wearers aren’t sexualized for the viewer. They’re teens, dressing as teens dress before they realize sometimes it’s more attractive to show less skin. Cleo’s halter top and miniskirt looks less seductive than quietly pathetic, a girl playing adult before she knows what it means. As the reader realizes what she’s recovering from, the costume becomes even sadder. The kids work so hard to look like they don’t care, properly goth by turning their dislike in on themselves with their piercings and fetishwear.

Pervading everything is the slow, oppressive feel of the weight of a Southern day. This book is gothic in more than one sense; beyond the characters’ costumes, it’s a sprawling story of a variety of unusual characters, combining to create a mosaic of their experiences. For many, it works beautifully as a glimpse into another world, one outgrown or never experienced. This is labeled Book 1, and the open ending gives hope the author carries through on the promise to create more stories with these fascinating characters.

(Book 2 is titled Unseen Feet and is now available. In it, Cleo makes a new friend as cast interactions become more complicated.)

More information is available at Ross Campbell’s website or the publisher’s website. Campbell has also created The Abandoned, a zombie comic in manga format, and previously contributed art to Too Much Hopeless Savages.

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8 Responses to “*Wet Moon: Feeble Wanderings — Recommended”

  1. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Avigon: Gods and Demons Bone Sharps, Cowboys & Thunder Lizards Capote in Kansas Owly: Just a Little Blue Tramps Like Us (books 4-7 out in 2005) True Story, Swear to God: This One Goes to 11 Wet Moon: Feeble Wanderings And Planetes, which concluded in 2005. [...]

  2. Dave Carter Says:

    I just read The Abandoned over the weekend, and really enjoyed it. Best darn zombie comic I’ve read in a long time. Even if you don’t like zombies, you may like it. I’m looking forward to reading Wet Moon

  3. Johanna Says:

    I was impressed by the way that it was mostly black and white with those splashes of red. Very effective technique, I thought. I don’t typically like reading zombie comics, but this one kept me involved because of the art.

  4. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Oni Press continues as my favorite publisher by offering two anticipated books this month: a sequel to Wet Moon and a new romance series. Ross Campbell’s Wet Moon: Unseen Feet ($14.95, APR06 3295) continues the story of Cleo and her college friends in his unique style, while Love the Way You Love ($5.95, APR06 3293), by Jamie S. Rich and Marc Ellerby in the format used for Love as a Foreign Language and Northwest Passage, looks at romance among the rock’n’roll set. [...]

  5. Comics Worth Reading » Spooked Says:

    [...] I sought out this older graphic novel because I so much enjoy Ross Campbell’s art (as seen in Wet Moon). It was a worthwhile quest. [...]

  6. Comics Worth Reading » Ross Campbell Quits Tokyopop Says:

    [...] stories, so I didn’t enjoy Ross Campbell’s The Abandoned as much as I have some of his other works. However, I’m sorry to hear that he had publisher problems (as revealed in the comments at [...]

  7. Slush Pile: SLG: Sisters’ Luck, Shadoweyes, Captain Long Ears » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] enjoyed Campbell’s previous series, Wet Moon, but I eventually gave up on it when I wasn’t clear on where it was going and I wasn’t [...]

  8. All this and a cup of hot punch. « Books do Furnish a Room Says:

    [...] Wet Moon – Feeble Wanderings – by Ross Campbell. [...]

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