Written and Drawn by Dave Dwonch
Published by SuperReal Graphics
Andy thinks his life has gotten simpler when he inherits his uncle Lewis’ house in a bucolic small town. He’s away from the city, the lovely Marybelle not only bakes him cookies but also takes a liking to him, and he might even be able to get a job. But what he doesn’t know is that his uncle was a practitioner of the black arts, and he has unleashed a horrible other dimensional beast that will destroy the world if Andy can’t stop it. Fortunately for Andy, he has one thing going for him: it turns out that the original garden gnomes were actually a class of great warriors turned to stone until the world needed saving. And now, the final living gnome has taken up residence in Andy’s front yard and begun to train the boy how to be a warrior that can save the world.
GNOME marks SUPER REAL maestro Jason Martin’s first effort at publishing someone else’s work besides his own, and it’s a pretty charming effort. The idea behind GNOME is pretty cute, and it works: only one of the poor bastards is left because of the tenacity of teenagers that like destroying the statues in peoples’ gardens. The rest are phonies made because someone liked how the original warriors looked. It’s actually quite tragic the way Dwonch describes it on the page. Dwonch also does a nice job in growing his characters; it’s halfway through the book before Andy gets a clue about the Gnome and the danger, giving him plenty of time to develop on the page, and for his relationship with Marybelle to develop as well. He also leaves it wholesome enough that GNOME remains good for readers of all ages.
The weak spot here is the art. Dwonch’s work is inconsistent, and his panel-to-panel storytelling isn’t particularly strong. That makes the motion and action feel pretty static on the page. Still, it is very typical for a beginning graphic novelist to be stronger in one area than another, and there’s plenty of room to grow. On the whole, GNOME is a decent start.