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.