Some first episodes tell you everything you need to know (watch the pilot of pretty much any network TV show in the last five years for a textbook example of how to establish a status quo in the shortest possible time), and some first episodes give you the merest hint of what’s to come (where would shows like THE WIRE and AMC’s THE KILLING be without an audience’s willingness to sign up for the ride?) Writer/artist/creative one-man-band Todd McCullough’s WHO NEEDS THE MOON? definitely falls into the latter category. We took a look at the first issue a few months ago, and were impressed by what we saw. McCullough recently released issue two, which gives a much clearer indication of where this series is headed. It’s also why I can’t help referring to it in the language of television, as I don’t think I’ve read a comic (with the venerable exception of Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra’s SCALPED) that so closely reminds me of a high-end TV show.
There’s much to mark out WHO NEEDS THE MOON? as an adults-only book. The violence, the profanity, the nudity... and the fact that most of the issue is set in a bar and consists of a conversation between the lead character and an anxious landlord. This isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of action – there is, and of the most graphic variety – but it’s secondary to the conversation. It’s the kind of dynamic you don’t often find in comics (with the exception of writers like Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis), but you do find in TV shows with the sophistication to let their characters breathe. McCullough’s concern with not only a sense of character but a sense of place is as unusual as it is welcome, and helps to make the town of Kingford feel like a living, breathing community in the space of only two issues.
While far from photo-realistic, McCullough’s cartoony, European artwork cements the sense of a cinematic narrative. Like all the best stylised art, it’s both simple (sometimes deceptively so) and highly descriptive. The exaggerated expressions and body language serve to evoke mood, and McCullough employs a number of neat visual tricks that speak the language of motion (no mean feat in a static medium). His layouts are simple and effective, and he manages to cram in up to 16 panels per page, without cramping the storytelling flow. And speaking of value for money, issue 2 clocks in at a whopping 40 pages and is available to buy for only $1.
Irrespective of the format in which they’re told, the best stories tend to be those from the gut. WHO NEEDS THE MOON? is one of them. A violent, slow-burning supernatural mystery with an emphasis on character, it’s for fans of idiosyncratic, personal fiction. It’s also one of the best (and best value) indie horror comics of the last decade.
Buy WHO NEEDS THE MOON? from the creator’s website –