On Japan and Green Tomato Chutney-- thoughts on Simon Moreton's Little Leagues No. 1

Little Leagues No. 1
Written and Drawn by Simon Moreton
Published by Lydstep Lettuce

As a smaller sister zine to Simon Moreton’s Minor Leagues, his Little Leagues No. 1 is a perfect little gem of a comic. Created around a Japanese trip during a typhoon and his time back at home, Moreton’s zine is a wonderful record of October 2018, creating an impression of Moreton’s life during those days without creating a mere journal of his experiences during that trip.

Moreton’s memories of Japan are just those- memories. If you’re looking for a travelogue or even a diary of Japan, you’re in the wrong place as Moreton recollections of October capture a spirit of the time more than the events of the time. He’s not recreating and exploring events as he uses photography, prose, drawings and even a recipe to capture the impression of those days. For us, these impressions are incomplete and mysterious— what was he there for? Who are the people in the photos? Why is a man taking photographs of a plant the focus of a couple of Moreton’s drawings? And what connects a typhoon in Japan to a recipe for green tomato chutney back in Bristol? These glimpses into Moreton’s days don’t answer any questions but they were never meant to.

This incomplete picture of early October doesn’t give us anything to learn about the events but they give us these images of Moreton’s days which work far more like a poem than as a story. With the immediacy of translating the events into a zine, reading Little Leagues No. 1 is more like reading someone’s journal, capturing specific thoughts from certain times and places without ever really getting the whole picture of those times and places. It’s an incomplete record of events but it is an intriguing reflection of those moments. By creating these impressions of the moments, Moreton remembers these times which touched the artist's souls enough for him to want to commit them to words and drawings.

Functioning more like a multi-medium poem than a comic, Moreton captures these moments without sentimentalizing them or even commenting on them. He shapes them to let us know everything we need to know about them even if we don’t know much about the context that these events occurred in. This creates the impressionistic nature of Little Leagues, that’s only highlighted by Moreton’s own loose and gestural cartooning. His drawings are just this side of abstract, scratches and scribbles which hint at his subjects more than creating a fully formed image. You can get lost in his drawings, trying to figure out the moods and characters of his Japan and his Bristol.

Little Leagues No. 1 is a time capsule as much as it is a zine or a comic Crafted around a collection of images, thoughts and whatever captured Moreton’s attention at the time, this little book is an immediate reaction to Moreton’s experiences and will obviously mean something different to him than it does to everyone who gets to read it. But by sharing these experiences with us, through drawings, photographs, and yes, even through a recipe for green tomato chutney, Moreton’s zine opens up our own world just a little bit as we get to see a part of it through the cartoonist’s point of view.