Gabby Metzler brings “The Fat Girl Love Club” to pop-up comics event

Becky's confused, and more than a little messed up. Her home life is unstable, she's trying to figure out who her friends are (and why) and she's trying to live according to her faith, but she's getting mixed messages about what that looks like.

So that's Becky, the main character in Gabby Metzler's comic “The Fat Girl Love Club.” Inspired by, if not based on, some real-life friends and acquaintances of Metzler's, Becky was a character who fairly cried out to the artist to have her stories told.

“I have a friend… it's not 100 percent based on her, but she said one time, ‘Wouldn't it be funny if somebody had a Jesus Christ fetish?' And it was literally like my brain exploded. I was like, ‘I have to write this. This is not an option,'” Metzler said in a recent interview. “In some ways, it's an empathy work. Some of the stuff comes from this group of kids at school who just always seemed sad, and I was interested in where their torment came from. So I went and got to know them, and it was very real and [had] very strong reasons, and I was like, ‘Well, shit.' It just came from me being a naïve kid.”

Metzler's “The Fat Girl Love Club” comics boast a distinctive style that's visually captivating, but it's the richness of the story that defines the work.

“I do think that's kind of my leg up. The comic scene is really beautiful right now, and people are making these beautiful aesthetic books. I love them and I buy them, but it's not what I feel like I want to do with ‘Fat Girl Love Club,'” Metzler said, adding that the tone and style of the comic have changed since the first issue. “At first, it was meaner because I was meaner, and as I've lived with the story, Becky and the story and I have all matured. And I'm drawing it much more traditionally cartoony and much freer, and I think it has a lot more energy to it.”

Metzler will be among a group of local comics artists featured in “Small Talk, Small Press!” at Clintonville clothing and accessories shop Small Talk. Nix Comics owner Ken Eppstein, whose dog has become an unofficial mascot at the store, helped organize the event. Other featured artists include Canada Keck, Lily Dent & Courtney Bennett, Matt Massara, Laura Payne & Aaron Miller and Vince Albarano.