Things We Like: Mooncop
Things We Like brings you the latest books, music, movies, and other work from artists and writers we are currently enjoying. Whether it be the latest release or a timeless classic, we shine a spotlight on our favorites new and old. This week, fiction editor Kimmy Whitmer discusses her discovery of Tom Gauld's new graphic novel, Mooncop.
This September, Drawn & Quarterly released Mooncop, the latest from British cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld. His previous graphic works include Goliath and You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, both published by Drawn & Quarterly. His work has also appeared in publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian.
Mooncop is my first experience with Gauld’s work, spurred by the mention of a quiet book about life on the lunar surface on a literary podcast. At first read through I felt a warm sense of recognition—this world and its protagonist felt so far away and yet so immediately part of me. For what could be misconstrued by some as simply a charming quick read, this comic has stayed with me long after.
Mooncop begins by bringing us panel snapshot by snapshot into the small perimeter of modern life on the moon—first the familiar rock in the sky, alone on its own page, then blocky standing structures reminiscent of vintage science fiction architecture. The titular mooncop glides over the endlessly gray landscape in a modest, hovering vehicle, patrolling.
It’s immediately clear this is not our moon colony at a thrilling beginning, but nearing a quiet end. The mooncop brings a lost girl home, learning her family is moving back to earth soon. He embarks on a short search for a lost dog that’s trotted off into the distance. At his desk, he has little to enter into reports. He haunts “Lunar Donuts,” because for all of his mildness, he is a mooncop. He quietly puts in for a transfer request as he realizes he’ll soon be the only person left. He’s denied.
The clip of Mooncop remains steady; no sudden conflict arises to shepherd you forward. Instead you swim dreamily forward, feeling like the silent passenger of the patrol car as it floats along. For all their simplicity, the illustrations are entrancing, offering a world easy to fall into—one with depth beyond the surface. It doesn’t hurt that Gauld imbues the moon with moments of humor—an old woman thanks the mooncop for keeping everyone safe, when it’s clear there’s few people around and little crime to fight.
The colony is shuttering, even as “Lunar Donuts” ironically expands into a mini cafe and a therapy robot arrives to offer our hero (short-lived) company. Everyone’s on their way out. The mooncop wants to be, too—but maybe there’s something yet to appreciate on the great rock still.
As a bit of a layperson when it comes to graphic novels and comics, Mooncop offered me something new. The landscape took residence in my head, offering a reprieve in an overstimulated workday. There’s something effortlessly meditative about Mooncop—there’s little dialogue, but much feeling conveyed in Gauld’s panels. The growing loneliness is oddly comforting; if the mooncop can keep up his beat and find some beauty in a bleak, dying world, well, so can we.