“Itty Bitty Comics: Grimmiss Island” #1 opens with a pair of witch doctors tossing various items — hot peppers, flowers, staplers and more — into a steaming cauldron. Punctuated with Art Baltazar’s typically playful sound effects like “TOSS!,” “SIZZLE!” and “THROW!,” this scene welcomes readers to a tropical locale filled with imaginative imagery. Joined by his creative partner Franco Aureliani, Baltazar makes this comic a welcome refuge for readers of all ages and humors.
The witch doctors mentioned earlier are the Mama Woogees. Baltazar and Aureliani also bring in a pair of talking cacti, a grumpy armadillo with a penchant for writing the Volcano Goddess, Mr. Easter, Big Woogee and the titular star of the issue: Grimmiss. Summoned to appease the Volcano Goddess, Grimmiss is a Spanish speaking, skull-headed imp with a knack for bounding movements that amplify the fun of this story.
Baltazar draws the sound effects into the story, frequently using them to move the story along or describe the on-panel action to add animation to his drawings. The word balloons are playfully organic, not limited by prescribed shape or format. Baltazar keeps the balloons consistently applied throughout the story, changing up the shape and the style of the frame as the dialogue demands.
Filled with colors that are limited only by Baltazar’s imagination, the Woogees are blue and purple, the sky is filled with gorgeous gradients and Grimmiss has yellow limbs and bright blue highlights on his skull.
From cover to cover, “Itty Bitty Comics: Grimmiss Island” #1 is a playful world-building romp. Readers familiar with the creative duo from their work on “Tiny Titans” or “Aw Yeah Comics!” are going to find exactly what they expect in this comic and more. These characters are new creations and the story is more than a collection of one-page bits. “Itty Bitty Comics: Grimmiss Island” #1 is a complete comic book, offering conflict and resolution, struggle and conclusion. Sure, some of the conflicts might seem goofy but, under an analytical microscope, every story is a bit silly.
Baltazar and Aureliani choose to celebrate everything bizarre and fun about comics and do so in magnificent fashion. It’s great that “Itty Bitty Comics: Grimmiss Island” #1 gives them yet another outlet for their audience (and, potentially, new readers) to find more of their whimsical work.