Q&A with Resident Gabby Metzler

 
Gabby Metzler.jpg
 

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project? 

My project is a comics series follows Becky a girl bent on righteousness and comforted by her twisted love for Jesus. Her faith tested by a new group of friends. Together they leave their church youth group to enter the world of drugs, sex, and doubt. It’s a mix between an after-school special, “Napoleon Dynamite,” and “Trainspotting”.


What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?

Comics are powerful. They hide everywhere, in memes, instruction manuals and movie storyboards. There’s a lot of beauty and strength in huge projects made by teams of people, like films or video games, but people crave the intimacy of art straight from the mind of one or two people. Almost anyone can print 100 floppy comics for something like $70 and sell them for $5.
That clandestine nature makes comics the birthplace of new ideas. They enable people to be as nasty and id-based as R. Crumb, or as thoughtful and academic as Alison Bechdel.

 

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?
I hope I can learn how to speak to an audience, getting people hyped and engaged is its own art form. The next step is to get people to leave their identity and enter my little love club.

 

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?

My main anxiety is being heard. This country and the art world have a habit of tyrannical code switching. If you’re talking to a Stanford conceptual theory professor or a pressman in a print shop you have to speak in their language otherwise the divisive alarm bells go off and instant divides go up. Getting on another person's level is a precious rarity and my work needs that so I can fix problems that are holding me back not just personal style differences. In terms of process it’ll be beneficial to add steps to my process like better tuning my audience and promoting myself and pitching to publishers and cut unproductive steps like changing my style 4 times or drawing before a script is finished.

 


The Fat Girl Love Club deals with many different outsider identities that are not often represented in popular media (at least not with much depth). What attracted you to these characteristics?

The term “outsider identities” is perplexing, because it’s founded in the framework of the quiet media lie. Becky might as well be an American Girl doll. If we break Becky’s identity politics down, she’s overweight and so are 21% of American teens, she’s bisexual that’s something like 15%, she smokes weed that’s anywhere from 22% - 44%, she’s a Christian that’s something
like 70%, her family makes less than 30k a year that's 50% of America. If you mix and match your identity no one is an outsider. But that doesn’t stop people from feeling like one. Most of my friends have said something like, “Yeah my parents don’t have any friends. Will that happen to us?” This kind of loneliness is an epidemic. If we allow our characters to be problematic and
challenging catharsis will happen. Catharsis should be the goal not escapism. If we champion work like that the loneliness might break. The Fat Girl Love Club is a story about isolation and fighting to make the community you have habitable.

 


Your character Becky has an arguably radical and often humorous relationship to her religion that is excitingly interesting and unique. What influenced you in the development of this relationship? And how do you approach this detail of Becky’s identity?

Gosh. So when I was a kid I listened to a Christian radio show called “Adventures In Odyssey” something like 3 hours a day until I was 16. It’s a huge radio series with probably close to a thousand episodes by now. I would sit and play with my toys and imagine Harry and Hermione running around Hogwarts. I’d dig in the backyard with Indiana Jones, and I’d play in the creek with Daniel and Moses and Mary and Jesus. They were an active part of my imagination. As I got older this innocent view of religion turned, not like Becky’s sexuality based turn. I got something I later learned is called scrupulosity, a kind of OCD where the obsession is sin. There were whole years I’d lay awake trying to control my thoughts and fight off any thoughts from the devil. It was terrifying and painful. The only way it ever stopped is when I broke the belief system. My thoughts were the problem. I had to think my way out of it. This gave me a sense of the duplicity of religion. So Becky’s religion isn’t ideal. She’s isolated. No one loves her and she hyper judgemental. She needs someone perfect to love as she grows, that’s Jesus. Her relationship with Jesus is more than a gross hook. My approach is to never show her being overtly sexual towards Jesus. I maintain a sense of affection for my own personal Jesus and don’t want to be mean to him. He was never the problem. The work strives to help people understand the intimacy of religion and still be critical of it. When Becky’s scared, Jesus is there, when she’s mad, she’s mad at him, when she is full of love, it’s for him, until she gets out of the house and finds a group of friends. The story  focuses on that transition. Can Becky survive much less be righteous without God?