Gabby Metzler grew up with Becky Latrice but is ready to say goodbye

The comics artist will celebrate the release of her graphic novel, ‘The Fat Girl Love Club,’ with an event at Two Dollar Radio HQ today

Jim Fischer
Cover art for "The Fat Girl Love Club"

Gabby Metzler and Becky Latrice were the same age when Metzler started work on her comics series The Fat Girl Love Club.

But while Latrice has remained the same age as Metzler has grown and matured, the artist and the lead character in her comics story have both learned some of the same lessons in the eight years since.

“I joke that I’ve been dumped three times and lost five jobs” since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Metzler said. “But there are things I haven’t lost, and those are what keep you going.”

Metzler said during a recent phone call that Fat Girl Love Club wasn’t and has never been autobiographical, although she allowed that “subconsciously everything you make is at least analogous.” 

“It started out as me trying to make sense out of kids I went to school with,” she said. “So while there are some of the same jokes and characteristics, as I’ve matured and had life experiences, the story has become deeper, the characters a little more fleshed out.”

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Becky is a teenager struggling to reconcile her fervent Christian upbringing, which she wants to hold on to, with the struggles of growing up in a world that doesn’t always offer the same clear answers. Her friends (she’s not always sure which of her peers are really her friends) aren’t that helpful, but they are often fun.

“Becky wants love and it doesn’t matter to her where it comes from, and it gets her in trouble,” Metzler said. “She started out with no self-awareness, but having friends helps her develop a sense of herself among others. She learns to listen, and I think maybe I’ve had the same experience.”

Metzler has finished a Fat Girl Love Club graphic novel, which will be unveiled at an event today (Thursday, Aug. 26) at Two Dollar Radio HQ. The first four chapters are the existing four editions of the FGLC comic, with the final two chapters consisting of new material that brings Becky’s story to a close.

“It was always intended to be a graphic novel,” the artist explained. “But I never had an ending for the story that was satisfactory. I had to learn what Becky was looking for and what kinds of challenges she was going to face and how she was going to deal with them.”

Metzler redrew the first chapter (“Everybody says not to but I never listen,” she said) and tightened up the existing story a little with the help of editors/mentors at 212 Creative Network, a local creative production company that had its start in an arts incubator program.

“Gabby has something really wonderful and ambitious,” Matt McClure of 212 said. “Her writing style and art are incredibly courageous and unabashedly authentic. She has a point of view that’s really special.”

Metzler said that not only has she matured but she’s improved as an artist.

“It’s so much better today. It’s better than it’s ever been,” she said. “[Fat Girl Love Club] has taught me how to be a comics artist.”

So while Metzler intends to retire Becky and her friends, she confessed she’s not opposed to revisiting FGLC on occasion.

“In some ways, I just wanted it to be over. There’s a professionalism about being able to finish something,” she said. “I’ve been scared to do it, but the time is right. And I’ve been creating some other things that I want to devote my attention to.”

The Fat Girl Love Club graphic novel launch

Two Dollar Radio HQ

7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26

1124 Parsons Ave., South Side

twodollarradiohq.com

gabbymetz.com