zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Monday, August 27, 2018

Minor Leagues #6: 'Where?' Part One

Minor Leagues #6: 'Where?' Part One

by Simon Moreton 

108 pages, B&W, cardboard cover with French flaps. Stapled. 22.8 cm x 21cm. 

£6 (or pay what you feel you can afford) + p&p

I've been a fan of Minor Leagues since issue #1 landed on my review pile back in April 2016. Simon has the perfect eye and ear for detail, the seemingly insignificant moments of life that are the stuff of memory, coupled with a gentle humour. 

There is a clear evolution of Simon's work over the course of Minor Leagues. The early issues being collections of short stories, anecdotes, fragments that have a heartbreaking honesty that make you laugh, and that walk the line between visual and textual.

In Minor Leagues #6 emotional weight has been given dominance, and with it strength of focus - it is a work unafraid to move across history both ancient and modern. Taking the very personal - the diagnosis of cancer in Simon's dad - as a jumping off point to explore layers of social history. The cultural and social history of place is built up in much the same way Titterstone Clee - the central element in part one of 'Where?' - was built from:

'mounds of the earth's belly on top of the plant matter and silt and animals and mud and debris and shit laid down by millennia of weirdo ancient sea creatures eating each other, breeding, then dying, on repeat'.

The largest change of style between Minor Leagues #6 and previous issues is the ratio of text to image, there are less sequential graphic moments in this issue, but an increase in stand alone illustrations to accompany the text. Simon has a definite feel for the right form for the content, and there is a fluid change of pace and tone throughout.  

Some of the stories from earlier issues have been reworked into the text of 'Where?', although it really doesn't matter if you recognise them or not. The recombination of memory is a foundation of conversation, and the reuse in this context helps you feel fully enmeshed in Simon's life as told.

A trick that Simon manages to consistently pull off, where many fail, is sweetness without becoming saccharine. The 'Exploring Attitudes and Values' exercise Simon completed in school in 1994, and shares here, is one such moment. 'The most important thing in life for me is...' question was answered with 'Art, cats and my family'. Minor Leagues stands as a testament to values someone has always held as important, and that is an extremely rare, beautiful thing.

I think one of things you can't help but wonder when you come across a zine series that you've never read and that is already on issue 6 is: will it make sense to start here? In some cases it wouldn't (Läskimooses is a prime example of having to start at the beginning), but Minor Leagues #6 forms part one of a book length project, and so it makes complete sense to use this as a chance to get acquainted with Simon's work. And if you're already a fan of Minor Leagues you won't need any convincing from me to engage with Simon's first feature length project. 

Buy Minor Leagues #6 here: smoo.bigcartel.com/product/minor-leagues-6

Or visit smoo.bigcartel.com for subscription options.

Review by Nathan Penlington

Previous issues of Minor Leagues are reviewed here.

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