Gum Girl Volume 3 – Countdown To Destruction
By Andi Watson
Andi Watson’s Gum Girl – has there ever been such a bright pink pop record of a comic? I don’t think so. The two volumes we’ve seen so far have been full of bubblegum pop adventuring perfectly suited for boys and girls of all ages, following the adventures of young Grace, who finds herself transformed into the gum toting Gum Girl after a chemistry experiment goes very, very wrong.
But for the people of Calamity, the town Grace has just moved to, Gum Girl couldn’t come at a better time, as barely a week seems to pass without the threat of some new, nasty nefarious, naughty super-villain or other deciding to put into action their latest plan.
Poor Grace, torn between two worlds; her life as Gum Girl and her attempt (valiant yet ultimately doomed – see the bit about a new super-villain every week) to live a normal life and not fall foul of the new headteacher at her new school.
Because as bad as those super-villains turn out to be, imagine the horror of having your dad as headteacher, and everyone at your new school knowing it!
That’s been the driving story behind everything that’s gone before in Gum Girl, with three stories per volume, each time Grace, and Gum Girl find themselves solving the dilemmas caused both by the villain of the piece and some more down to earth problem that Grace finds at school, all beautifully connected by Andi Watson’s perfect cartooning, bright and brash, yet so wonderfully readable, the eyes guided perfectly through.
This time there’s trouble with time when Doctor Tick Tock tests his Temporal Extractor Unit at school, zapping the wasted moments of break and lunch away from the kids (a day at school with all lessons and no break – more horror!), there’s the fast moving menace of the Roller Raider, planning on putting on a devastating display that could spell doom for Catastrophe, and finally there’s Neil Aldrin, whose past as a member of the Evil Genius After School Club surely doesn’t bode well…
Nope, doesn’t bode well at all.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Gum Girl 3 is pretty much exactly the same as Gum Girl 2, which was very similar to Gum Girl 1. That’s no criticism, not at all. The children at school really enjoy it, and that’s Watson’s audience, not this old grump who still wants Watson to revisit his more adult themed works (I read Breakfast Afternoon again the other day – still a beautifully observed piece of human emotional frailty, and a heartrending look at a relationship breaking apart). But then again, I do want Watson to do both – maybe if he cloned himself – one children’s book and one adult’s book a year?
Because Gum Girl is a wonderful, pun-filled, pink package of absolute delight. Watson makes it look so very, very easy, but like most things, if it works perfectly, someone’s put a lot of work in to make it work perfectly, and the amount of craft and art gone into making it look so good, work so very well is huge.