Metro Gnome #1, 2007
by Steve Fuson
Today was my first day at the Alternative Press Expo (APE), a small press convention in San Francisco hosted by the same crew that puts on the San Diego Comic Con. If you're in the area, swing by the Concourse on 7th (good luck finding parking) and visit booth #510: K.O. Comix. You can even pick up my latest fanzine Far & Wee: Pilot Issue, an inaugural attempt to start a retrospective jam piece featuring fellow geeks' proverbial origin stories. I just a few fellow geeks to help me put together the next issue! As an exhibitor, today could've been better, but anytime someone's eyes light up (and their wallet come out) at the sight of one of our books, I feel like the trip is worth it. Now, as an attendee, APE should prove very beneficial for A Comic A Day, particularly in the context of my new year's resolution to read books of varied size and content, those that utilize the medium in different and dynamic ways.
Of course, my first grab from APE is a standard-sized comic book, but we have to ease into these things slowly, you know? I bought Metro Gnome for my girlfriend because she likes gnomes, but reading the issue, the concept is interesting enough for me to check out the series again. See, Metro is a gnome "born, raised, and named for his urban surroundings," and despite his presumed magical and benevolent nature, has become a passive brawler, especially with cats that eye him for lunch. His friend Foulmouth the rat (nice name) isn't much help, enabling Metro to remain street, if you will. Alas, their lives are destined to change when an angel (initially disguised as a pidgeon) commands Metro to find a girl with mystical potential. Metro initially refuses but something compels him otherwise -- perhaps that nagging urge toward his native nature. Honestly, I've never read a comic book about a gnome, and for my first one to exhibit such a conflicted depth of character is amusing (as I hope was the intention) and interesting.
Steve Fuson (whose table is right across from mine on the aisle so I'd better be careful what I say here -- I do have to look him in the eye tomorrow) displays crisp writing skills, and this first installment does an excellent job of telling us who his comic is about and what the driving conflicts will be. How Fuson gets the point across, however, may be a detriment to the book, as his art could use some room for improvement. Don't get me wrong, his page layouts and character placements are solid, but his inking could use some varied depth -- a potential result of the issue's small press printing, but hopefully a constructive comment nevertheless. Some grayscale and/or zipatone would really add some nice layers to his well established urban backdrop. With the right amount of attention, with the concept Fuson is playing with here, the city, and any other environment Fuson puts Metro in, will have some character all its own.
I conclude by commenting that, in a romantic city like San Francisco, with a rainy night like tonight, I'm grateful for the centering feeling reading comics, and this blog, provides. I know that might sound uber-geeky, and even sad, but fellow fanboys will agree that the comic book is the kind of portable medium that survives and circumstance -- just as we presume Metro will. Now, fellow fanboys, if you want to write some of those feelings down . . .