Page 45 Review by Stephen
Cleo Lovedrop! Possibly the best-named protagonist ever!
"If you can't judge a comic by its cover, then it's not the right cover," I began ten years ago. "This is the right cover."
It was a different cover!
"Framed in black, a young, tubby gothstress with a fag in her mouth, looks up uncertainly over her black-rimmed glasses... The cover says GHOST WORLD with piercings and pvc, and that's pretty much what the contents deliver."
Do you know what? They still do to a certain extent. That WET MOON developed into something far more chilling in its six volumes (so far) obviously colours a re-read but I saw some of that coming too. I simply failed to spot its simmering source. As, I'm afraid, do the cast.
I like the new cover. It speaks of a more profound melancholy, a deeper malaise than the comparatively fashionable original. This is someone alone with the thoughts while nobody's watching, rather than someone perhaps being photographed.
The forms inside will become a great deal softer, kinder, plumper, doe-eyed, love-struck and a lot less abrasive and tired over the six books, but that note aside, I'll leave the original review pretty much as it stood...
Term's about to kick off for a cast of young college girls, all unsure of themselves and their relationships, most of them awkward.
Audrey - black, pretty and gay - is the exception, but Trilby - pale, freckled, Tank-Girl hair falling over a nose-ring and braces - provides a weighty counterbalance to Audrey by being hideously ugly, both inside and out. It's not that she's intent on turning her face into a human curtain rail - so many others are too - it's that she's relentlessly and remorselessly selfish, callous, moody, bitchy, and disloyal, dismissing anyone's misgivings with "Who cares?" and "Whatever" while caring very much that no one walks in her watching Star Trek: Next Generation. She's so two-faced she can be briefing against a friend five seconds before flashing a smile in their very direction.
Fortunately the focus of this first book (and it does look as if it will be quite the saga) is Trilby's friend Cleo Lovedrop, the girl on the front who is far more honest and open and therefore vulnerable and seems fascinatingly complex to me. Campbell gives her pages and pages of silent panels, and you're never quite sure what's going on in her head, even though diary pages full of insecurity verging on paranoia are provided, as she stares at the moon, vulnerable and troubled, her hand over her belly. What's going on when she turns tail in terror each time she bumps into a particular, tall fellow student called Vincent? (Have they had a relationship? a bad meeting? or is she just being weird?)
While working on Antony Johnston's SPOOKED, Campbell proved she was one of those rare artists who, refreshingly, refrain from making everyone and everything LCD-perfect i.e. bland. It's obvious she relishes more individualistic body forms. Here, however, she has managed to make some seductive art of it. The lines are far cleaner, the forms bolder and the grey tones reproduce the balmy atmosphere of the bayou. There's some real subtlety in the expressions, and I don't know if it was intentional, but I loved the way that it wasn't until later on I realised that Cleo was so remarkably short.
I mentioned the bayou, and there's an awful lot of water here, most of it decidedly ominous. As yet I haven't decided whether the 'Wet Moon' in question is the reflection of the lunar sphere on the lapping lakes, or has more to do with the menstrual cycle, mentioned throughout, perhaps tying in with those belly rubs and Vincent.
What I do suspect is that this will end up containing an element of horror, because there's a brooding Charles Burns something-or-other going on with slack-jawed, drooling residents.
[For the record, that wasn't where the horror ended up coming from! You could try to cheat by clicking ahead to my reviews of the other volumes but even there you'll find me tantalisingly evasive.]