Mayflies & Slide Gutars by Ed Moorman

Categories:  Reviews

Mayflies & Slide Guitars
Ed Moorman

MayfliesIt’s tough to get excited about something that’s just good when you can tell that the author can do better, and will. I like to look through a book of short comic stories when the author uses different styles to express each one, but there’s an exception to this rule: I like to see the cartoonist taking calculated risks, I don’t like to see old “good enough” stories mixed in just to fill space.

However, great cartoonists don’t just spring into being. They have to play around first and get their least-perfect ideas and drawings out of their system before they discover, consistently, what works for them.

Mayflies & Slide Guitars
offers up a variety of artistic styles, stories, metaphors and poems from a young guy in college who seems to be in the process of finding his voice. I think Ed Moorman made this book partly as a challenge to create a large-scale project with the help of his mentor Zak Sally and comic influences from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. This isn’t the best book he’ll ever make, but it wets the reader’s appetite for what’s to come next and it certainly highlights his strengths despite the weaknesses.

He plays with different artistic tools and styles. Some of the drawings are incredibly tight and well-done, like in “Sing Into My Mouth: A Story of Two Young Girls” (about two young girls discovering lesbianism), but others don’t line up with the quality of work he’s evidently capable of producing. Comics like “The Most Important Meal” (about a couple growing tired of each other then apart) try to get by on repeatitive, simple line drawings. It’s kind of easy to distinguish what’s on the page because it’s one person or the other. However, his artwork appears more dynamic and beautiful when he takes the time to fill in blacks and create ink washes that create interesting space and add variety.

Moorman is definitely a talented writer though, consistently interesting in each story, and I get the impression it comes very easy for him to write such engaging plots. Comics is definitely his language to express ideas, but I look forward to seeing how more time and life experience will come to influence his taste of story and depth of understanding in his topics. He’s just scratching on the surface of how good he’s going to be if he continues to go ahead with comics at full-steam.

Something unique about the first half of the book is that he writes a little running anecdote in the margins of the first five comics. It fits the mood perfectly for each page. This was a really exciting way to get information and see ideas flowing together.

Another thing I liked was his use of cursive writing to emphasize movements or feelings. Each time the cursive was used, it looked gorgeous, easy to read and appropriate. To counter that, I wish he’d work more on his regular handwriting. It looks kind of scratchy and too slanted. I’d like to see more closed “a” and “d” letters, because waiting to figure out what those forms are (takes just a second) but a second too long and it disturbs the digestion of what he has to say, which is something more mature than his youthful handwriting in stories like “I wish my arms were branches to shelter you” (relationship autobio) would indicate.

The book is very nicely printed: an 8.5×11” booklet, color cardstock cover, 34 black & white pages, glued not stapled. It’s professional-looking and fairly priced at $5. Expect great things from this kid, and expect good things from this book. Though some comics were more rewarding than others, it was overall an enjoyable read.

Here is a link to Ed’s WEBSITE.

–Sarah Morean

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