So I’ll just come out and admit it. The first thing by Ross Campbell I read was Glory. I know, I know. I’m a loser. I read that, and then his turtles stuff, and just sort of kept up with whatever dope art he posted online. And I had HEARD of Wet Moon. In fact the first time I ever read Ross’s name anywhere he was paraphrased as “the wet moon guy”. So I didn’t have like a good excuse for not reading these books, beyond lazy worthlessness.
Anyways, Wet Moon Vol. 6 came out this week—and I thought it was a good opportunity to take the plunge. Now a perhaps smarter bunny would have started at Volume 1, but bleaugh. That is the coward’s way. If I can pick up Spider-man 1 billion 16 and figure out the lay of the land—I’m reasonably comfortable I can pick up book six of a series and not feel in over my head.
I am glad I did, because wow. I loved Ross as an artist before reading this—but now I’m in awe of him as a writer—and also super thankful someone like him exists. My eyes were full of tears for the bulk of this book—the world is so fully realized, that you can just jump in, and everything makes sense. It’s like in the real world, you can meet people, and you don’t know their whole backstory, but you become interested in them for tiny weird moments, and just gradually come to know them, and THEN maybe you go in and fill in the backstory. That’s how realized these characters are. There isn’t a character in this book, that I didn’t feel almost immediately like I knew them in some way. I didn’t know how they got to be where they were—but I wanted to know why, because I appreciated how they were now.
And at this point, it probably is going without saying, but this is easily the most body positive book I’ve ever read in comics. The book is a huge condemnation of the bulk of comic history, which has mostly handed us one or two kind of body types for women, and said “well sorry, we have to sell these books, so we have to have beautiful people on here”—every woman in THIS book is beautiful, and none of them conform to what we’ve been sold for decades. It’s like if you live in the city your whole life, and then go out into the country—and you’re like “Oh that’s what the stars are”.
What’s most striking to me about Wet Moon and what makes it such an immedietely compelling read, even if you don’t know the universe—is how well these characters communicate pain and survival. It’s usually just in the body language, or a facial expression at a particular moment—but the book is this constant tension of those who feel the need to shoulder the pain that is inside of them, even as they do everything they can possibly do to help their friends around them. The character Audrey is literally like this horrific cyclone of bad shit happening in her life all at once, but she is still trying to help people who let her down—but even then, she doesn’t have the expectation that others are there to help her—and they consistently are. She is offered help and support from several friends in a few different sequences—and I think it sends this really powerful message that no matter how alone you feel, or how dark times seem—there are people out there who want to help you.
There’s three pages in here, that don’t really have to deal with the central plot of the book—and kind of happen almost off-screen from the rest of the characters of Wet Moon, where the Audrey character has to come out to her parents because it’s that or allowing someone else to out her—and anyone who has ever had to have this conversation—Ross captures it perfectly. You only see it from Audrey’s side, where she’s on the phone—so you just have her reaction to what she’s hearing—so it’s almost entirely body language—and just with that, Ross conveys perfectly that hope that your parents will still love you, the anxiety that you think they probably won’t—and then the breath stealing crushing shit fire of them rejecting you. It is so powerful. And it zooms in on just her face for two panels on a black page—and it absolutely wrecking. It is so human and amazing—I wish that I could force feed it to everyone out there that is actively working against gay rights.
The power of wet moon just as a work of comics, is the profound human marriage between story and gesture—the singleness of the job that Campbell does on this. I do not think a book like this could be produced with the writer and artist being separated The sensation of reading Wet Moon is a book that is both written and drawn from the gut. I don’t even really think it’s correct to write it that way—this is a book where writing and art are not separate functions. This is a book of pure comic storytelling.
I am excited to read the rest now. I enjoy all of the work for hire Ross is doing right now—but damn—maybe he should be doing writing for hire too.
I got this for like 6 bucks on Comixology and it’s like 150+ pages. Do you know how insane that is? For a book that was this enjoyable? I don’t usually chop out reviews like this for random books every week. But I was very affected by it. And thus and thus.