Have you ever wondered what sort of comic could handle the sensitive nature of topics like “tokusatsu, sentai, kaiju, cats, sleeping, yelling, push-ups, talking birthday cakes, and space potion?” It would most certainly need to be some sort of a force tasked with being a squad of rad type individuals, a “Task Force Rad Squad” if you will. It would just so happen that two rad dudes have created a comic book series also called “Task Force Rad Squad” to cover these sorts of adventures. To bring public awareness this group of heroes and the problems they face creators Buster Moody and Caleb Goellner have launched a Kickstarter for the collected edition of their “Task Force Rad Squad” series.
To learn more about the Kickstarter, the series, and why, we at Multiveristy spoke to the team of Buster and Caleb to answer those very questions. The team discuss why Kickstarter, capturing the essence of their childhood in comics, and what comics of today’s youth may look like in the future and much more. To see our conversation with Buster and Caleb before sure to check it out below and to find more about the “Task Force Rad Squad” Kickstarter you can click here to be taken to the project. A big thanks to the team and be sure to check out the live Kickstarter now going until the end of October 19th.
What is “Task Force Rad Squad?” What is this Kickstarter for? Who are you? What are you doing in my home?
Buster Moody: I’m Buster Moody. I’ve done work for books like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “TMNT Adventures,” “TMNT Universe,” “Godzilla in Hell,” and more. My current project is my comic “Lazer Storm: Giant Slayers,” which I’m serializing on my Patreon. I’m in your house because I heard there were comics here….
Caleb Goellner: I’m Caleb Goellner. I’ve written for IDW’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “TMNT” books (with Buster, even!), plus Boom!’s “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” and a few other things. I also draw indie comics like “Mermaid: Evolution,” “Ice Cream Warriors,” “Mer-Pugs,” and “Birch Squatch: The Last Bigfoot.” “Task Force Rad Squad” is like a synthesis of all of that stuff, taken to a higher plane by Buster’s pen. The Kickstarter is fuel for its cosmic comic fire.
What I have enjoyed most about the series is your ability to capture the essence of properties like TMNT, Power Rangers, Super Sentai in this fun and over the top way. How do you capture the feelings of these things you love while still trying to make a singular story with a cohesive tone? In addition what is it about those things that you love that would make you want to make a homage to them?
BM: As a kid, what grabbed me the most about a property like “TMNT” is the variety and distinguishability of the cast of characters. Unique and memorable designs that really didn’t look like anything I’d seen before. Same with MMPR and Super Sentai- Yeah, the team of protagonists are generally uniform, but the designs of the Kaiju and villains are so awesome and distinct. That aspect was huge to me. One of the other things about the early Turtles issues that I love is the tactility of the art, and the general energy that comes through on the page- Eastman and Laird were having a blast when they were making those books, and it totally translates on the page. Capturing that love and reverence for the medium, while also bringing an energetic and enthusiastic approach to it was def something we wanted to reproduce.
CG: I came into comic book writing through pop culture news coverage and criticism, so I was lucky in that I’d trained myself to try to understand the things I like and why I like them. But then when it came time to write my own comic, I had to stop caring about any of that for awhile and just try to make myself laugh at a bunch of characters trying to survive through heaps of high concepts.
Writing is kind of like drawing in that your imperfections become your style, and fortunately for us, I have plenty of imperfections that helped stylize scripts and synthesize a bunch of things I love about monsters, monster slayers, and their inevitable conflicts. But honestly, Buster is the one who makes it read like no other comic out there.Continued below
At this point Kickstarter is pretty standard fare as a means to get a comic into the hands of the fans who want them. As creators who have used Kickstarter before but also self published work and worked on comics for publishers what is it about kickstarter that appeals to you and putting out this edition of “Task Force Rad Squad?”
BM: I’ve supported tons of Kickstarters, though outside of contributing to a couple projects that were funded this way (“GHA 3d Cowboy Special”), this is the first time I’ve been actively involved in a KS campaign. I like the idea of crowdfunding in the same way I love the DIY aspect of self-production and publishing in general. It’s a nice way to bypass the gatekeepers and tastemakers and establish a direct connection with the audience and fans. The secret of creating comics is not to be found in how to get someone else to make/print/hype a book for you, but to make the book that you want yourself. The ability to make something is a skillset we have outside of limitations or hangups or permissions from anyone else… we also have the ability to make something AVAILABLE, which is really what Kickstarter and crowdfunding helps us raise funds for.
CG: It’s really tough to drum up excitement for your indie comic when you’re not, like, a top 20 comic pro with 50K+ Twitter followers (and it’s still tough, then!). There’s just a lot of noise out there and people are busy. But for whatever reason, people GET Kickstarter and crowdfunding. They like it, they trust it, and they’re happy to look at a project on platforms like that to make a backing decision. And thank heavens, because we will be bugging everyone to look at our project until it’s funded.
I’m excited to read the series in one sitting and seeing the first issues against the most recent. Have you revisited the old issues at all and is there anything you might change for the collected edition?
BM: I’ve revisited them and, sure, I’d love to go back and change a lot of things, but alas time moves forward and so must I. When I do look at the early issues I see things that I would like to/or even have improved on since we put them out, but I would rather apply those lessons of being dissatisfied with aspects of my work to the work I’m currently producing, as opposed to rehashing/revising the book in a way I would have made it now. That being said, for a very limited period of time (maybe 50 issues max) of #6- the issue had a temporary cover and colors in order to get it printed in time for Emerald City Comicon last year, which was in fact revised to bring it up to my own personal standards, so that first printing of #6 won’t coincide exactly with the new printed edition, which has been updated, also making that edition of #6 pretttty #rare. So issue 6 is different, and there are also many pages of sketches and behind-the-scenes content like roughs and page thumbnails.
CG: There’s a quick joke in the first issue that felt dated a year ago… but I think we have enough distance from it now that it’s funny again. I’ll probably keep it. We’ll see how I feel if this thing gets funded!
I have read you guys talk about the series really being the result of what you loved as kids, what you looked up to as kids/creators and the time period you grew up in as kids. What would today’s task force rad squad look like for this next/new generation who are now following you?
BM: Hopefully it looks like something that is made with unabashed love for the medium of comics and the tropes that we are playing into. There are universal themes that we cover as far as the nature of good and evil and how to juggle those areas of life, while also dealing with whatever crises come your way in the meantime. The infectious bombast and intensity of the early ’90s is definitely something that is two-fold derided and revered by modern readers. I would like to think we are trying to bring back notes of that dynamic approach with a pinch of thoughtfulness, satire, and actual meaning.Continued below
CG: In 10-15 years some awesome creators will probably make a comic that synthesizes PAW Patrol and Doc McStuffins and Minecraft and nobody will “get” it at first, but I’ll back the trade paperback on FutureKickStarterInSpace because its passion will radiate straight to my atoms. Yeah.
This project is for the collected edition of the series. You guys have put out all the issues as single issues on your own. Why was it important to put out a collected edition and why now? Could this mean you plan to do more?
BM: I’d love to do more if that’s what the audience wants! We love these characters and know they have a lot more life in them beyond what we’ve been able to share so far.
CG: Self-publishing requires a lot of time and resources that we’ve started to have less and less of as we’ve entered new stages of our lives. It isn’t really sustainable if we want to scale up our audience while keeping the level of quality we want. But if Rad Squad gets backed and people dig it, we’d love to take the next step and release more with the proper support in place. *Cough* Publisherscanemailusanytime.
This is kind of piggybacking on an earlier question but there is a good amount of time from when you put out the first issue till this current Kickstarter. You both have done a lot of different work since that time. I mean you both got to work on official TMNT books which is awesome. What is the biggest difference between first issue Rad Squad creators and yourselves as creators now?
BM: For me it’s really just been in a shift in priorities and approach to how I want to make comics. The shift in priorities comes from a practical aspect. I now have two kids who didn’t exist when we made the first couple issues of Rad Squad, and those kids need to eat! Comics-wise, first and foremost, I had to realize that I love comics as a medium, more so than as an industry. I learned somewhere along the way that the only actual, real barrier between me and making the comics I wanted to make, was, in fact, me. That barrier isn’t gone and will never be, but knowing that it’s there is freeing in the same way that realizing that problems in life can’t be solved by repeating the same actions that caused the problem. New doors and paths make themselves known to you once you acknowledge that the path you’re presently on won’t take you where you want to go. Maybe I’ve grown as a person?
CG: When we started, I was a very optimistic 27-year-old with almost no expectations. Now I’m more, uh, seasoned. I’ve experienced many sides of the comic book business, I’ve leveled up some at making comics, and I’ve honed my personal goals and priorities. But I still can’t write a comic without a few fart jokes, so I’m not sure readers will be able to spot any difference.
What is appeal as a creator of putting out “Task Force Rad Squad” on your own versus a publisher?
BM: The appeal to me is, like I said a bit earlier, being able to bypass those who would otherwise be obstacles to the end goal. If we want to put a work out, what is the path of least resistance from A to B? Outside of (maybe) marketing the book for us and (maybe) giving us a little bit of money, while also (definitely) trying to own a big part of our creation, much of what a publisher would do for us are things that we can either do ourselves or find solutions for, without compromise.
CG: There are publishers that know exactly what they’re looking for and exactly what they think they can sell, and then there are publishers that take some risks and curate according to their tastes at any given second. Rad Squad hasn’t fit perfectly into either of those scenarios up to this point — for better or worse — so we took the book to Kickstarter. That all said, again, publishers can totally hit us up. It’d save me from having to text my parents to back a Kickstarter again.Continued below
Not the most unique questions when it comes to interviews but always important, why should a reader back the project? What does this project mean to you?
BM: I think a reader should back the project because we are trying to make pure, unadulterated comic book fun. I personally think there should be a bigger place in our culture for actually fun comics. Why are there so few? There is an edge to it, but not sharp enough to cut indiscriminately — only enough to make it funny and engaging. Completely boiled-down, the book is like a modern [Adult Swim] “Power Rangers” by way of the post-“TMNT” indie comics boom of the ’80s, with a big flavor packet of ’90s Image comics action liberally dumped into the mix. Pretty much it’s exactly the type of comic I want to see succeed in our dark times.
CG: “Task Force Rad Squad” is 200 pages of Buster and I’s burning determination to celebrate everything we love about comic books — in a comic book. Back it to light up your ever-lovin’ life and banish evil. But not in a literal sense. We can’t afford the legal counsel necessary to parse any of these claims until you finish funding the Kickstarter.