By David Dwonch

I’d been curious about this book ever since I saw it solicited a few months back. The whole concept of a garden gnome come to life intrigued me. And seeing those funny travel commercials with that gnome who yells, “I’m on my way,” didn’t hurt either.

Despite my curiosity, I passed on the book. With a cover price of $6.99, I didn’t want to risk it.  Last weekend, I stumped upon the book at a local convention, meeting its creator, Dave Dwonch, in the process. Great guy, great attitude. I figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. Unfortunately, my experience went downhill from there.

Gnome is a disappointment on many levels. First of all, the art is simple and unrefined, but that’s something I can let go coming from an independent publisher. The real culprit is the lazy use of  Photoshop’s “Posterization” filter, which Dwonch used for all his backgrounds. Basically, he took a series of photos, applied this filter to them to make them look “drawn” and used them in virtually every panel. Making matters worse is the fact that some of the same photos are used repeatedly throughout the book (especially the establishing photo of the town). This not only comes off as jarring, but lazy as well. When these photos are put in the background and contrasted against the computer drawn (maybe they’re hand drawn, but I don’t think so) characters in the foreground, it looks like a mess.

As for the story, it’s not much to write home about either. It’s your basic “Hero’s Journey” story with the main character, Lewis, acting as the would-be hero, and the Gnome acting as the “Obi-Wan Kenobi” mentor. Even the lines spouted by the gnome stray dangerously close to Yoda territory. Toss in a forced romance and some weird monster from another dimension and you’ve got a story completely devoid of depth or weight. Perhaps the only saving grace to this book is the storytelling, which is somewhat competent and the dialogue which, at times, rolls off nicely.

As much as I like and repsect the book’s creator, I can’t recommend this book to anyone. It’s substandard in every department and has very little redeeming value. This book could have been glorious. I mean, imagine how much fun this could have been were it a comedic story about a garden gnome come to life and the boy who has to keep it a secret from all his friends and family? Instead, it turned into a boring domestic adventure filled with too many cliches. (Grade: F)

– J. Montes