The rural British countryside has always held a certain mystique to those who aren’t from there — and to those who are, as well. The supernatural and the entirely natural seem to have a way of converging in this “green and pleasant land” — from the stone circles to the crop circles to the fogous to the hill figures to, of course, the rumored lines in the Earth from which the Czap Books/Grindstone Comics visual poetry series Ley Lines derives its name. Hypothesized by antiquarian/photographer/entrepreneur Alfred Watkins in three tracts he wrote in the 1920s to have been literally straight lines which connected many of the ancient mysteries just mentioned with hills, lakes, rivers, and villages, and to have served purposes both mystical (hidden energy grids) and mundane (trade and transportation routes), the Ley Lines remain an intriguing enigma, even if they might be complete bullshit — hell, maybe even because they might be complete bullshit.
Veteran cartoonist Simon Moreton is the perfect person to explore this latter-day mythological conceit, and the man who proposed it, not only because he’s from the UK, but because his work has always been concerned, whether subtly or overtly, with something “other” that we as readers can’t always quite put our collective finger on. But in the moss-colored and riso-printed pages of The Lie Of The Land — issue #23 of Ley Lines for those keeping score at home — he goes one better and asks whether these lines, whether real or not, might hold lessons from the past that can perhaps help us navigate through a turbulent and uncertain present.
Utilizing both broad brush-stroke illustration and photography to juxtapose concerns both dated and contemporary, he teases out and infers temporal lines of connectivity that may be every bit as speculative as those “discovered” by Watkins, and does so through a decidedly personal lens, one which eschews the easy answer of the “knowledge drop” in favor of something ultimately far less specific but decidedly more true : the point of view that things are invested with whatever meaning we choose to give them. And that those meanings can change in accordance with time, circumstance, and necessity.
Needless to say, then, this is conceptually-dense stuff, yet the tone and tenor of Moreton’s work is, as always, light as a feather. Fluidity is a staple feature of Ley Lines in general, and here it’s downright necessary, because it offers the only plausible “delivery method” by which to intuit what has come before, take stock of the here and now, and contemplate the myriad “maybes” of the what’s to come without risking the same sort of sensory overload that, let’s face it, we need to get the hell away from in order to give the subjects raised by this comic the time and attention they deserve. All of which may just be my long-winded way of saying that this book is best experienced in a quiet setting free of distractions — and yes, that includes your phone.
In fact, don’t be afraid to get downright lethargic here. Let Moreton’s ‘zine wash over and through you, as this is a contemplative and even sensual work that is designed to be felt every bit as much as it’s understood. Absorb it like moss on an old rock might be another way of putting it. Otherwise, you’ll be depriving yourself of the chance to take it in much in the manner in which it was put out. This doesn’t tell a story, per se, so much as it offers up a considered meditation.
Maybe Watkins was indeed on to something — and maybe he wasn’t. And maybe it doesn’t matter all that much either way as long as his hypothetical (?) lines speak to you on a subliminal level. There are any number of possibilities to choose from, and Moreton is a splendid guide to explore them all with. He certainly leaves you feeling that there might just be hope for us all yet, country folk and city slickers alike — and even if there isn’t, his book reminds us that the act of looking for it is still one inherently worth the undertaking.
The Lie Of The Land is available for $6.00 from the Ley Lines storenvy site at http://leylines.storenvy.com/products/30318016-lie-of-the-land-ley-lines-no-23
Review wrist check – Ocean Crawler “Paladino Wavemaker” green dial model riding a black Ocean Crawler stingray leather strap. I like how the orange stitching matches the hands.