By Joey Weiser
There’s something freeing in realizing that something isn’t for you. It’s not the same, of course, as deciding you don’t enjoy it—it’s simply an acknowledgement that whoever it was who created a work almost certainly didn’t have you in mind when he or she created it.
With Mermin, the realization came quickly. When Joey Weiser first sketched out his pint-sized baseball tee-wearing fish man, he almost certainly didn’t have his fellow 20-something indie comics readers in mind. Something of a modernized boyhood take on the much beloved and oft-adapted Little Mermaid tale, and when a group of kids discover the titular hero washed up on the beach a couple of pages into issue, it’s pretty clear who Weiser is writing for.
Mermin is the latest in a recent string of minis targeted towards younger readers—something arguably kickstarted by Jeff Smith’s magnum opus, Bone, which, while not hand photocopied like more recent fare, certain bear the spirit of self-publishing proudly upon their covers.
Weiser’s book is breezier than Bone, of course—the next issue will be the last in the current volume, if not the series. Nothing wrong with that, of course, it’s a fun little story, and Weiser is clearly having a good time drawing it in quick and easy 20 page installments—perhaps the perfect length for holding a young reader’s attention for one sitting.
It’s the sort of story that makes you wish something similar might have existed—and had been easily located—when you were amongst Weiser’s target demographic. Mermin begins—to use the easy-but-appropriate descriptor—as a fish-out of water story, with humor largely arising out of the character’s attempts to acclimate himself to his new environment. It’s a familiar conceit, of course, but one which never fails to play well with younger readers.
By issue three, the story has culminated in proper adventure story, with Mermin battling a ocean’s worth of foes attempting to drag him back to the sea, a shift that will undoubtedly hold the attention of younger readers with some appropriately G-rated battle scenes.
For Weiser, the series feels like an exercise in writing for a younger audience, as he preps a longer piece—albeit a rather engaging one for those following along. Should enough fans discover Mermin along the way, he’ll no doubt happily return for seconds.