Not so long ago, readers bid farewell to “Superman Family Adventures” and closed the DC Kids chapter of Art Baltazar’s and Franco Aureliani’s work on their version of DC properties, following a five-year run of imaginative all-ages entertainment. Leave it to the dynamic creative duo to find other outlets for their distinctive brand of creative cuteness. The primary outlet is “Aw Yeah Comics!” #1, the first issue of the series of self-published comics intended to run exclusively for the duo’s comic shop in Skokie, Illinois. Following an amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign that blew the roof off of their goal, more than tripling the original target, the creators have opened up the availability of the title and officially launched it at C2E2.
Set in a fictitiously cartoony version of Skokie, “Aw Yeah Comics” #1 is measurably more comfortable for readers familiar with the duo and their style than brand-new readers. That doesn’t preclude new readers from finding something fun, zany and enjoyable, however, it simply means long-time readers of work from Art and Franco will find this title immediately familiar. Built like an anthology, this initial installment introduces Action Cat (and his civilian identity of Cornelius) and Adventure Bug (who answers to the name of Alowicious when he’s not fighting crime).
The collection of short stories is produced by various talents, led by Art and Franco, but anchored by one-page and two-page interstitials that have fun simply for fun’s sake. The collection of talent present in the pages of “Aw Yeah Comics!” #1 does a remarkable job maintaining the spirit of Art and Franco comics even though some of the art strays from a prescribed style. The essence is present in story and art, including a nice Hostess tribute from Matt Brazee. Franco even takes a rare shot at drawing. While this is not rare for fans familiar with his convention appearances, it is rare in a published sense.
In addition to the primary characters of Action Cat and Adventure Bug, “Aw Yeah Comics!” #1 introduces Hammond, Evil Cat (who is apparently the bad guy), a female Action Cat wearing (of course) pink and purple, Shelly Bug, Ghost Bug and some pin-up cameos of South Paws, Polar Cycle, and Marquaid. This book is a masterful blend of childlike imagination and wonder mixed with solid craftsmanship and homage. Baltazar’s work is immediately familiar to “Tiny Titans” and “Superman Family Adventures” readers and he works in a “Peanuts” style reaction in the Action Cat/Adorable Cat meeting.
Store proprietor Marc Hammond states that “Aw Yeah Comics!” is for love of the comic book medium and this first issue brings a whole lot of love behind a fourteen-page lead story that sets the tone for everything to come. This isn’t groundbreaking comic book work, but it sure is enjoyable work that fits quite nicely into hands of any age or in front of eyes of any child. “Aw Yeah Comics!” does a great job of celebrating comics for comics’ sake and really deserves to be checked out.