Comic book nostalgia for Saturday morning heroes past can be a dangerous proposition, and no one knows that better than Caleb Goellner and Buster Moody. The creative duo have staked their claim in comics on classic properties like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Sonic The Hedgehog, but their first labor of love is an indie series inspired by kick-flipping teen heroes and more than a little bit of punk rock sarcasm.
Goellner and Moody's Task Force Rad Squad has been delivering a detailed, day glow indie comics take on the tropes of the beloved Power Rangers franchise for years. But this week, the creators enter the final phase of their plan to bring the Task Force to an even wider audience with a Kickstarter for a 200-page collection of the comic that sees everything from cake-based kaiju to snarky teenage hijinx.
To help explain their distinctive vision at the Kickstarter's eleventh hour, Goellner and Moody explained why Task Force Rad Squad is a book that comics needs to see now.
CBR: A lot of '80s/'90s throwback books entice readers by taking a trope or concept you loved as a kid and then doing it as a SUPER SERIOUS TEETH-GRITTING EPIC. This is not TFRS. In what way is this book an antidote to grimdark relaunches, and in what ways might it actually also contain some kind of real pathos?
Caleb Goellner: I just don’t have grimdark in me. Have you seen the news lately? Reality is, like, already a grimdark parody of how things should be. But humans are still cool on some level. We turned gray wolves into pugs, after all. That fact alone gets me out of bed and excited to work with Buster to make a comic that defies expectations and leaves readers feeling slightly better than they did before they picked it up. Plus, grimdark stuff doesn't leave a lot of room for fart jokes. And if I don't put at least one in every comic I work on, I might die.
Buster Moody: Task Force Rad Squad takes the *fun* elements of concepts we loved as kids and then cranks them up to 11. We’re not ashamed of the fact that we love stuff like fighting monsters, saving the Earth, and vehicles transforming into giant robots. Having an air of imposed gravitas and self-importance in doing the right thing doesn’t look good to me, but forced. And you’ll never see a good grimdark version of a composite cat kaiju monster.
Indie comics are a stubbornly frustrating both financially and in terms of putting out the product you want to see. In what way will this cash empower you to make a book that could not exist any other way?
Goellner: In 2019, “If you build it, they will come,” is an indie comics delusion. It’s no good to spend weeks/months/years working on a comic you believe in without having some kind of strategy to reach an audience and work scale it to a financially sustainable level. But we started TFRS in 2013, so I was FULL of delusions. They were sick AF. I miss them terribly. Anyway, crowdfunding has become a seasoned option for indie creators to get readers to tolerate 30 days or so of breathless promotion. Also, Make That Thing is a really great partner to help ensure that every backer gets awesome rewards, and gets them quickly after the campaign is funded. So here we are. It’s great to be here.
Moody: Well at this point, our KS campaign is the only way to get all 6 issues of Task Force Rad Squad in a single place. Hopefully we can get enough peeps on board to help us make tonight the night where 6 become 1 (Spice Girls reference).
What is your favorite monster/concept/reinvention in the series? Tell the people an example of something that can only exist in TFRS?
Goellner: I LOVE anthropomorphized inanimate objects. They’re terrifying. Remember the shoe that was dissolved alive in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Task Force Rad Squad goes a step further (kind of) and sees the team face a badass talking birthday cake, a sentient wad of stray cats, a murderous human-sized multi-tool, a composite-Superman-but-Hollywood-monsters, and a conflicted giant ‘90s cell phone, even a fidget spinner — among other… threats? You be the judge!
Moody: I also love anthropomorphic characters in general, so personifying these random objects as kaiju and monsters was really fun for me. Probably my two favorite characters though are Wy-Zard, who is the Zordon-esque space wizard mage who formerly led the team, and ConkError, the villian who is alluded to as having been Rad Squad’s last major formidable villain they’d defeated when we meet them in the first issue. He’s inspired by Lord Zed from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, who I always thought was awesome when I was a kid, so I enjoyed designed him a lot also.
Other dope shit that’s in the book that Caleb didn’t mention is stuff like the Days of the Future Past space-potion-addiction-kicking issue featuring our characters with cybernetic metal arms (I love metal arms) in the future, the Rad Bot bicycle-kicking the Poo-lice lead ship (hard to explain, you’ll just have to read it), and the maybe one of the coldest disses ever put to comic book form.