Review by Frank Plowright
Mooncop is a downbeat imagining of a completely isolated, and ultimately pointless life. Mooncop patrols a barely populated moon, a slave to routine and requirements, yet there is no crime, and his completed tasks are all-but worthless, although it’s drily observed that his crime success statistic is a continual 100%. He lives his life in small bubbles of oxygen, and were they to be breached death would be seconds away. Tom Gauld uses this fragility as a joke, the sample art showing the oxygen bubble surrounding a dog, and another sight is a tree enclosed in a larger bubble.
Gauld published Mooncop in 2016, and it acts as a melancholy meditation on the promise travel to the moon once held. During Gauld’s childhood NASA flights to the moon were regular, and the ongoing space programme held the promise of the future, yet instead it was cut back and cut back until it became dormant for decades. In Mooncop’s world a few further steps have been taken as the moon is colonised, but it’s a dying environment with few residents and fewer facilities, all of them either being transferred back to Earth or downscaled. The technological advances we’re shown are all limited by absurdities, none of them fulfilling their promise, and amid the fumblings of life are we watching a man on the verge of depression?
On the face of it, the simplicity of Mooncop coupled with it being a very quick read would indicate a book to be flicked through, admired and placed on the shelf, but that denies Gauld’s wit, imagination and sense of comic timing. There’s a clockwork precision to both script and art, the blend providing something to be cherished, and it’s ultimately an optimistic piece. Technology may be failing, but humanity and nature prevails, which is a message to consider more often.