On the back of their monumentally successful Kickstarter campaign, the team behind Aw Yeah Comics have made the first issue of their new series available. If you backed the Kickstarter – and evidence suggests that somewhere close to 85% of the country did – then you’ll already have the issue in your inbox. Otherwise, you can try this new all-ages series via their site. But hey – now it IS available, what’s it like? I enlisted some special help to take a look at the first issue.
Perhaps I’m not quite enough of a young pup to offer a useful review of the issue, which is why I decided to rope in my 6-year old twin cousins to take a look at the story and give me a verbose summation of their critical thought. Cousin 1, who for confidentiality purposes shall be referred to as… ‘cousin 1’, likes reading, and sat attentively with the comic for a long time. Cousin 2, whom I shall also cloak with an anonymous mask known only as ‘cousin 2’, is a little more… let’s say imaginative. Fidgety. Picking up the first issue, his tendency was to read a page, run off and act it out to himself, then pick up a football and run off round the corner with it screaming “ACTION CAAAAAATTT” before returning to try a second page.
Back to them later. Aw Yeah Comics anthologises the adventures of Cornelius the Cat and Alowitious the Bug, who both operate as super-heroes when not reading comics and mucking around at their local store (the Aw Yeah Comics of the title). The series follows them around as they face off with villains, go on quests, and make goo-goo eyes over a female cat/bug crimefighting duo. Each issue tells a series of stories and one-page jokes, along with pin-ups and other bits and pieces. Guest writers and artists are involved – with people like Mark Waid and Chris Roberson lined up further down the line – but for the most part this is wholly the invention of Art Baltazar and Franco.
The pair immediately take advantage of their complete creative freedom to establish an inviting tone in their new world and characters, which brings readers into the nonsense lives of Action Cat and Adventure Bug. The comic is rich with sight-gags and knockabout, with a particularly inspired Superman riff which sees the characters wearing their costumes all the time – but with glasses on. All they do is take off the glasses, and suddenly they’re completely dressed for superactive duty.
The character designs themselves are simple but memorable. The main characters are a collection of shapes turned into animal form, which seems designed to make it easier for readers to make their own fan-art. At the same time, Baltazar manages to make these shapes into emotive and entertaining people, with personality and character to them. The dialogue and art work together particularly well to this regard, in fact – the art hammers home the ideas of the scripting, instantly establishing the stock elements of the characters before quickly moving on and developing them in more subtle ways. In essence – it feels very simple, despite being very carefully crafted.
I would say that I don’t feel the comic is trying to push anything new. As a Brit, I’ve grown up surrounded by similar comics – The Beano, The Dandy, the much-discussed Beezer, and so on. For me, those comics take all-ages humour and pushes into unexpected places, offering a little more edge and bite than anything seen here. Aw Yeah Comics is fun reading, but at the same time it’s not something which’ll grabbed my attention and made me anxious for the second issue. It was absolutely fine, but I’ve read stronger all-ages work elsewhere.
The cousins, on the other hand, LOVED it. Cousin 2 particularly enjoyed the issue, dipping in and out of the comic at will, mainly focusing on the pictures because he’s not too great with words. The lightness of tone and larger speech bubbles definitely helped him get through the stories, as the general idea of each small piece is conveyed through the art as well as through the dialogue. Each page sets up a simple goal, achieves it, and throws in five or six visual gags at the same time.
Cousin 1, who pretends to read the newspaper and likes to be thought of as a grow-up, also really enjoyed the comic. Focusing more on the words than the art (is it natural for twins to be complete opposites like this?!), he enjoyed the dialogue and characters. He’d bring over the comic from time to time and ask me to read a bit of the story, because he liked it so much.
I enjoyed reading Aw Yeah Comics – but my cousins loved it. And I’m pretty certain their opinion is worth ten of mine.