The Scottish cartoonist Tom Gauld was born in 1976, four years after the last astronaut mission from Nasa na Lua. He regrets never having witnessed live a human tour of the lunar soil and does not hide his disappointment at the end of sporadic human visits to the natural satellite that surrounds the Earth. Still, he understands our almost 50 years of absence there.
“I think that after a day or two, the Moon would be a rather boring place to visit,” says the artist. A contributor to The Guardian and The New York Times and The New Yorker and New Scientist magazines, Gauld is known mainly for his scientific and philosophical strips, with stick figures and hyped by researchers and academics on social networks.
He is also the author of the recently released “Guarda Lunar”, one of his few long works, a comic about the banal and uninspired routine of the last policeman on duty on the Moon. The 2016 album is the British artist’s second long work published in Brazil. The first was “Goliath” in 2019, about the biblical clash between the feared Philistine giant against the fearless and tiny Israelite David.
In “Goliath”, Gauld chose to narrate his story from the point of view of the said villain, a bureaucratic and uninspired soldier remembered by his superiors for his nearly three meters and therefore chosen to face a young warrior who has the support of God . “Lunar Guard” also breaks some expectations by running away from the expected adventure life of a space patrolman.
Gauld’s original plan was to tell his science fiction story in a short comic. It would be a maximum of 20 pages, but the joke was out of his control.
“I wanted to use the science fiction language to tell a story without weapons, war, death and not even much action, knowing that the fun would come in part from the audience’s memories of all the exciting, grand and action-packed science fiction that they have you seen”.
The 96 gray and blue pages of “Lunar Guard” antagonize the science fiction epics consumed by Gauld in childhood. In the midst of the increasing return of lunar residents to Earth and with no crimes reported recently, the policeman is even wanted to help search for a missing puppy, but there is not much else to do.
In contrast to the guard’s ordinary rounds, Gauld invests in inhospitable scenarios and retro technologies presented with his minimalist streak and a backdrop marked by the growing disinterest of the Earth’s population in life on the Moon.
“I think one of the pleasures of science fiction is the feeling of visiting a strange fictional world,” says Gauld. “It wasn’t the plots of “Blade Runner” and “2001” that caught my eye, but their worlds intricately imagined and convincing. I am happy to slow the pace of the story, allowing me to reveal all these details. ”
Indeed, rhythm is one of the most characteristic elements of Gauld’s work. With more space than he usually has in his straps, he invests in slowness. Among his main influences are the films of the filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, reference for Gauld in the calm with which he narrates his stories.
“I wanted to do something like that in my comics. I found out how fun it is to play with time in the comics by distributing the panels on the page, and I like how you can suggest slowness and the passage of time without boring the audience. ”
He also does not hide his cult of melancholy: “I certainly went after her. The art I like most is often sad and funny at the same time (but not completely dark). You would have to ask a psychologist why this combination attracts me so much, but it does ”.
Currently focused on completing his first children’s book, a fairy tale scheduled for release in August in the United Kingdom and the United States, Gauld says that the social isolation imposed by the new coronavirus pandemic did not impact his professional routine, but he noted a growing interest in his science strips.
He celebrates that concerns about the pandemic and the commotion with vaccine development are driving the presence of science in the popular imagination and providing a greater source of inspiration for his comics. At the same time, he perceives an increasingly constant presence of conspiracyists responding to his work.
“When my strips are tweeted by the Guardian or New Scientist, there is often some response to them that has nothing to do with my work, but comes from an angry person with a conspiracy theory to share. It makes me realize how many crazy theories there are and how much energy some people put in to promote these things. ”