September 3, 2010

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Mermin Volumes 1-3

Written by Joey Weiser
Illustrated by Joey Weiser
Self-Published

[A disclosure seems fair here: I helped support one of Mr. Weiser's projects, and my reward for doing so are Mermin comics. This reward was worth it, as you will see. -Rob]

I've been a fan of Joey Weiser since I read The Road Gnome back in 2008, and anytime he has a new project, I'm always excited to read it. Weiser's characters always have a sense of innocence to them, but not in a way that's annoying to the reader.

In the case of Mermin, that veneer of innocence hides quite a bit of danger, as we discover over the course of the first three issues of this ongoing mini-comic series.

Mermin, whose name is not only a clever riff on mermaid but the source of a delightful joke in issue three, comes out of the water mysteriously, looking for dry land. He's taken in by kids, and immediately starts getting into trouble.

At this point, you're probably thinking about how this is both literally and figuratively a fish out of water story, which we've seen before. To some extent, that's true. Mermin quickly doesn't fit in at all, and his hijinks cause all sorts of trouble.

However, what makes this story work is that not only does Weiser pull off one of the best illustrations of his life towards the close of issue one, he adds an element of mystery to the whole proceedings that's genuinely interesting.

Sure, escaping your past is a familiar riff, but Weiser's take on it works well for me. All we have right now is Mermin's word that things were bad, which is backed up in the aggressiveness of the efforts to get him back. But there's still a chance that Mermin may not be all that he seems, and even if that doesn't turn out to be the case, the fact that Weiser leaves secrets out there for the reader makes this a good story.

In addition, Weiser's lighthearted sense of humor aids in the story's construction, as it keeps the pacing light despite the problems for our characters. There are several jokes related around Mermin's misunderstanding of human life, and scenes where an indignant Mermin is told to get his feet off the table, just like any child, balance well against the darker parts of the narrative.

Artistically, this might be the most action-oriented book I've read from Weiser. Mermin battles in two of the three books, and it's funny to see Weiser's innocent-looking (for the most part) characters getting drawn with capes-comic action lines. I'm happy to report that the fighting in here does not seem stilted at all, which can be a problem for indie creators at times when they want to have an action scene. You're not going to mistake Weiser for George Perez (unless he starts making fish-filled splash pages a habit), but he gets the job done and doesn't throw me out of the narrative with awkward pencils.

Mermin is a work in progress, and as of the end of issue three, things aren't looking good for our hero. His past won't let him go, and now those who've befriended him may be in trouble, too. I'm not sure what happens next, but I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment. Mermin is a delightful series that uses the mini-comic format to good effect in this multi-part drama. I can't wait to find out where Weiser goes with his little green fish-man, and I hope the story continues on for a lot more issues to come.

You can get Mermin at the Small Press Expo or at Joey Weiser's website.