A true "fish-out-of-water" (joke alert) tale, Mermin is about a small aquatic boy (think The Creature from the Black Lagoon’s much cuter son) who is on the run from the mysterious undersea Kingdom he once called home. Befriending three human children, the scaly runaway must come to terms with his new, dryer, existence as he attempts to fit in to humanity, school, tetherball and gym class. It's not quite as idyllic as it sounds though, he has more than his fair share of problems in the way of school bullies, a whole host of sea creatures determined to find him, and, of course, gym class. You see, Mermin has a pretty major problem; amphibious as he may be, he's deadly afraid of water. And we thought we hated swimming at school.
Given a home by Pete’s dubious but receiving parents, Mermin is even allowed a place at the children’s school when the Principle (believing Mermin to be a human boy with a rare skin condition) unconditionally enrols him through fear of a public relations disaster. I'm not afraid to admit that these sections of the comic gave me warm childhood memories of "creature X lives with human family" sitcoms like Alf or Harry and the Hendersons. 1980s/90s guilty pleasures aside, this kind of story has an enduring quality to it that survives because these misfit non-human characters act as mirrors of ourselves and our environment; reflecting both the strangeness and wonder of the world whilst communicating the often confusing process of living in it.
From a visual point of view, Weiser continues to hone his smooth cartoon curvature, and produces his best work yet. There’s a duality to the illustration, with a surprising amount of detail co-existing with the cartoony aesthetic the artist employs. Our favourite sequence from the issue sees a splash-page-sized hoard of fish invade the school swimming pool. Absolutely striking, it showcases Weiser’s ability to create a grand, detailed image whilst simultaneously endowing the narrative with a much-needed sense of panic and desperation.