Thursday, July 01, 2010

Reviews of Joey Weiser's latest works, Cavemen In Space and Mermin #1-#2

I have a review of Athens, GA-based Joey Weiser's latest original graphic novel Cavemen in Space in Athens, GA-based altweekly Flagpole this week. You can read it here.(And you can download a preview of the book here, if you're so inclined).


Caveman in Space might have just recently seen publication, but Joey Weiser’s already working on his next project (in addition to his ongoing concerns, like Monster Isle), Mermin.

It’s a rather unusual project in at least two ways. Firstly there’s the format, which is that of a more-or-less standard self-published mini-comic, a format generally geared toward adult comics fans (mostly ones who make their own mini-comics). The subject matter and tone, however, are very much all-ages, and geared especially toward a broad audience of little kids.

It’s also rather unusual—for Weiser, at least—in that it’s fairly conventional compared to his two AdHouse-published graphic novels, each of which are at least an entire degree higher in weirdness than Mermin, a literal fish out of water story.

“Mermin” is the name a little, kid-sized fish-person who washes up on a beach in a ripped uniform of some kind gives the group of children who find him (Mermin the Merman, get it?). Despite his weird appearance and beach ball-punishing super-strength, Mermin befriends the kids, strengthening their bond when he saves one from a shark.

One of their number take him home to stay out his house and then, the next day, take him to school. Almost immediately they notice something weird about Mermin, beyond the obvious fact that he’s some sort of green, amphibious sea creature person. He’s also afraid of the water, since, when he’s in water of any kind, he can be tracked by other sea creatures, and they all seem to be looking for him for some reason.

There’s little terribly revolutionary going on in these first few chapters of the story— a 38-page, $4 first issue and an 18-page, $2 second issue—but it strikes me as the beginning of what will no doubt be a pretty great kids graphic novel of the Jellaby or Lunch Lady variety. Something that will do extremely well in the youth departments of libraries.

And while I didn’t feel it changed my life or offered any great epiphanies, it is enjoyable enough to keep an open-minded, comic book-loving thritysomething entertained.

I really appreciate Weiser’s art style and, in particular, his sense of design. Mermin’s a solid-looking character, balancing weirdness and cuteness, and the first issue ends with the introduction of these three-awesome looking guys:I think the middle one is a humanoid sea serpent? With some sort of retro, 21st century version of New Wave hair? And the one on the left is definitely an whale with arms and legs. And they are both awesome. (They are among those looking for Mermin, although ordinary, limb-less fish seem to be in on the act a swell).

Plus, the first issue does include a scene of Mermin kicking a shark in the face……something that should appeal to the tiny, little Chris Sims that lives in the brain of most comic book readers.

I imagine that Mermin will be back in a bound format at some point, either as a graphic novel through AdHouse or a book publisher with a graphic novel tendril, or a self-published one by Weiser himself, and that the mini-comics are simply a way for Weiser to maybe make some money on the comic during the months it will take to draw it or to elicit some call and response feedback throughout the creative process (or both).

If you can’t wait to read a comic about a cute little creature from the black lagoon that goes to grade school, plays tether-ball and flying kicks great white sharks, you can check Weiser’s site to see how to go about getting the single issues (the third of which is due in September).

I really liked the creative, lo-fi cover concepts. Each is a single-color image with an individualized logo, and a full-color sticker of the lead character placed atop it.

I also really liked this panel from the first issue:Weiser just plain drew the living hell out of a swimming pool of fish, didn’t he? Wow.

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