I came to Sophie Campbell’s Wet Moon series retrospectively. Actually to be perfectly blunt, I discovered Wet Moon this week, about 13 years after the first issue was released.
I doubt I would have enjoyed this comic in 2004. Hell, I didn’t even read comics back in 2004. I was 17. My main concern was playing in a metal band, continuing my exploration of recreational marijuana and the collected works of Kevin Smith. That I was living the life of the cast of Wet Moon would have gone completely over my head.
How I wish it would have fallen in my lap and so should it fall in the laps of many a young person struggling with the emptiness of society.
Volume 1 saw us join Cleo, having just moved into her new dorms to start college life. The loneliness of University life, the aloofness of Cleo’s housemates in getting to know her, the bullying of family; you wonder why everyone treats this girl with such contempt.
There are real human conversations going on, one’s I can recall having back when I was 17 and this honesty makes Wet Moon not only endearing but impulsive. If there’s an alt-kid inside you, Campbell sings to them.
For how backwards the town appears to be Wet Moon offers diversity and cultural integration of gargantuan proportion. Gender lines are blurry if they’re there at all. Sexuality is fluid. Deformations and mutations are adored and lusted after. On the surface, there is a flat out disrespect for stereotypical beauty which is not only refreshing, it’s empowering.
It can’t be understated how beautiful Campbell’s art style is, and while dialogue can be somewhat staid in places, the pages never let up. If it was a movie, it’s got great cinematography.
Bubbling beneath the surface is how messed up our young people really are. Like all teenagers, there is a desire to be interesting. To stand out. To be different. To be damaged.
Despite the front there is a rabid insecurity in every cast member. Personages who at first seem timid and gentle are revealed to be venomous and destructive. In turn those with severe attitude problems were previously pleasant and life loving.
There is an incredible sensitivity at work here as over the course of the first two volumes we see the impact a small group of friends can have on each other. One person’s week of being punk can have enormous ramifications and impact the world view of another later.
I mentioned Kevin Smith before. Wet Moon, in it’s beginning stages, felt to me like Mallrats for Goths. As the story continues, Wet Moon can fall into a trap of becoming a bit like a soap opera and it’s meandering pace is testing and repetitive at times. But that doesn’t really detract from a series that is not only nostalgic but important.
Young people dealing with this weird world and parents dealing with weird kids would do well to give Wet Moon some time.
Wet Moon Vol #3 is released on April 12th from Oni Press.