Gabagool! #1-3

By Mike Dawson and Chris Radtke
20-32 pages, black and white
Published by Mike Dawson Comics

One of the great things about mini-comics is that it lets creators hone their talent not by practicing, but by creating. With much lower costs than higher-end publishing, you can get your comics out to people, build an audience, and hopefully keep getting better in a way that you wouldn’t if you only drew for yourself. That seems to be just what Mike Dawson and Chris Radtke are doing with their Gabagool! comics—just keep getting stronger and stronger while getting their comics out to more and more people.

Christopher and his friends Ritch and Vinnie enjoy the finer things in life. Comics, computer games, CDs, movies, and other geeky things. In an effort to make things meet, though, the guys need to find a new source of income. What better way to do that than be bounty hunters, of course? If you can’t see disaster on the horizon, you’re clearly reading the wrong comic…

It’s tough to write a book about comic book fiends without it running the risk of becoming too insular. It’s a trap that a lot of creators fall into, with the book only being interesting to themselves. Fortunately, that’s not what happened with Dawson and Radtke’s comic. Gabagool! isn’t dictated by a sort of navel-gazing look around the world, it’s a ludicrous over-the-top romp through their own bizarre world. What impressed me was how even through the utter silliness of such plots as recovering Ace Frehley’s stolen guitar, there’s a real sense of character-building here, with Christopher and company getting fleshed out to the readers into real people instead of just goofy one-dimensional guys who like geeky things. Like Alex Robinson’s Box Office Poison, this is a book populated with people who seem as real as your neighbors.

Dawson’s art in Gabagool! gets stronger with every issue; its loose, cartoonish style is great to watch evolve as he gets more used to drawing these people and their lives. There’s a definitely resemblance to the styles of Robinson or Tom Hart, and like those other artists he’s able to make the art an integral part of the story. It’s a very unpretentious style that just sort of does its own thing… just like the characters of Gabagool!. Don’t mistake the simple style for a lack of skill, though; Dawson certainly understands how to tell a story, making the comics easy to follow from start to finish. If comic art could kick off its shoes and relax, Dawson’s would be happily wiggling its toes.

Sometimes comics vanish when they’re in your possession, only to show up nine months later. That may have happened with the three issues of Gabagool! I picked up last September, but I certainly won’t let that happen again. Dawson and Radtke are definitely creators to keep your eyes on; their characters might feel like they’re stuck in a hole, but these two are definitely going places. You can order issues of Gabagool! from Mike Dawson Comics.

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