Dirtboy #1
By George M. Dondero and Colin Adams
Published by Moronik Comics; $2.95

The kid-empowerment vibe of Street Angel reaches its apotheosis in Dirtboy, a comic about misfit kids with nary an adult in sight.

Not a whole lot happens in this first issue -- Dirtboy (think Charles Schulz's Pigpen by way of Jim Mahfood) meets a mysterious boy (called "Sparky," apparently) with a slingshot in danger-filled woods, and the two fend off attacks by various animals, revealing some strange powers and abilities, and form an alliance of "Bad Kids."

Not much happens, as I say, but this debut issue breezes along nicely, carried by quirky, energetic artwork that does indeed recall Street Angel's Jim Rugg, Mahfood, and even contains hints of Farel Dalrymple and Mike Mignola's styles. As you'd expect from those apparent influences, blacks and crosshatching are used in an extremely effective manner, deftly conveying the dangers that lurk in the shadows of the woods. The kids all look like kids, distinct individuals whose expressions are many, varied and well-drawn.

Dirtboy #1 is a fun start with intriguing characters and above-average artwork. It should appeal to fans of the Slave Labor axis of goth-style comics, and probably beyond that audience, as well, given the solid storytelling of this debut issue. Grade: 4/5

-- Alan David Doane

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