Mooncop by Tom Gauld review – graphic novel of a forgotten utopia

A nostalgia for the golden age of space travel is tempered with the monotony of routine and the pointlesssness of existence of life on the moon

The colonisation of space might just be humankind’s most ambitious undertaking, a great reach for the stars. According to Guardian cartoonist Tom Gauld, it could also be pretty boring. Mooncop follows a nameless lunar officer of the law as he takes a loitering girl home to her dad, follows a lost dog, and attempts to reason with a malfunctioning automaton. This is a colony in inexorable decline, a half-forgotten, underfunded dream no one wants to live in any more. Mooncop is a slight tale, but Gauld’s deceptively simple panels and sparse, understated dialogue speak poetically about the deadening monotony of jobs and the pointlessness of existence. This is life lived in a literal bubble of oxygen-rich air, and a metaphorical bubble of computerised bureaucracy. Yet this land of plains and craters, marked by prefabricated lodges on stilts and biospheres of trees and bins, has a real and stark beauty. Mooncop is touched by nostalgia for the golden age of space exploration and an affection for the routines of small-town life, and Gauld finds humour and hope – as well as coffee and doughnuts – in his portrait of a fading utopia. James Smart

Mooncop is published by Drawn & Quarterly. To order a copy for £10.65 (RRP £12.99) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

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James Smart

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