I often look at fan art and wish that it was from a real comic. But sometimes — rarely — the artist goes right ahead and makes a real comic out of his fan art. That’s what Yale Stewart’s done with Little League, his webcomic featuring the grammar-school adventures of the Justice League of America.
There are obvious similarities to Tiny Titans, but Stewart’s has a slightly different tone from that series. Like Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani’s wonderful comic for kids, Little League is cute and funny and occasionally references events in the regular DC Universe (like the current storyline in which some of the heroes get new costumes in order to appear grown-up). The differences have to do with format and probably with the characters themselves.
While Tiny Titans emulated the gag-focused format of Archie and Harvey comics, Little League has more in common with newspaper strips. Each comic has a joke, but also contributes to a longer story. And occasionally, Stewart skips the joke and does something touching instead, like the strip where Bruce walks Clark home and has to continue on his lonely way after seeing Clark embraced by his parents.
Which brings me to the characters: Little League is more concerned than Tiny Titans with finding humor (and, yeah, pathos) in the personalities of its cast. By putting those personalities into the bodies of uninhibited children, Stewart’s able to say a lot about the relationships and politics of the Justice League members.
The result is exactly what I’d hoped to see in DC’s own, planned-but-never-launched DCU Elementary. Hopefully, Stewart will be at it for a long while. And wouldn’t it be awesome if DC actually paid him and collected the strips in a print edition some day?