By Mike Dawson and Chris Radtke
Published by Mike Dawson Comics
One of my favourite mini-comics (previous issues reviewed here and here) has traded-up to standard comics dimensions with its fourth issue, just in time to see lead character Christopher Viglotti laid off from his job and pondering the opportunities presented by a $10,000 severance check.
Everyman Viglotti discovers his unfortunate employment status after being called to a staff meeting while surfing Ain't It Cool News, and noticing that all the other employees called in with him are, shall we say, "underperforming." Christopher's reaction to the news that they're all being laid off is very funny, and Dawson and Radtke quickly salve the sting of unemployment with the promise of that fat severance check.
What follows is the lead-in to next issue, when Christopher and pals take a hedonistic vacation at a tropical resort they assume will provide non-stop rum and hummers. I hate to cast doubt on Christopher's expectations, but I've seen a preview of where this story is going; his vacation won't be quite what he expects, but it will be funny. And there may even be a hummer.
This was a funny choice of story to move up to regular comics dimensions with -- it's only part one of a continued story, and the biggest yocks await in the next chapter of the tale. On the other hand, the art on this book is stronger than ever, with bold blacks and strong, confident linework on the characters and backgrounds that make it extremely easy on the eye. Dawson's penwork recalls Dylan Horrocks and Paul Grist, a deceptively stable and consistent line that frees the artist to concentrate on expressions and setting, two very important parts of this series. A more experimental feel is lent to some of the scenes in the backup tale "Double Damage," a skit about roleplaying games that is worth a chuckle or two and is a nice addition to the issue.
Dawson and Radtke make the most of the new format, with extremely appealing pages and panels and thoroughly professional reproduction. Panels like the one at the bottom of page one or the middle one on pages 6 and 8 show how much the art has improved in Gabagool! since its beginnings. It's extremely pleasing to look at and draws you in utterly -- one of the most professional and appealing small-press comics I've ever seen.
Combine that with the delightful set of characters and the sardonic and witty scripting, and you've got a book that is charming, funny and more than a little addictive. Grade: 4/5
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