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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Return of Bagge and Hernandez's YEAH!

YEAH! #1
HOMAGE COMICS/DC COMICS

WRITER: Peter Bagge
ARTIST: Gilbert Hernandez
LETTERS: Rick Parker
COLORS: Joanne Bagge
32pp, Color, $2.95 U.S., $4.50 CAN

Yeah! was an all-ages comic book co-created by two legends of alternative comics, Peter Bagge (Hate) and Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets). Written by Bagge and drawn by Hernandez, Yeah! ran for nine issues from late 1999 to 2000 and was published by Homage Comics, a DC Comics imprint via Wildstorm Productions.

Fantagraphics Books has reprinted the series in a black and white trade paperback (Yeah!; 224-page black & white 7" x 10.25" softcover • $19.99; ISBN: 978-1-60699-412-2). The book is scheduled to be available to comic book shops and bookstores this week, as well as being available through www.fantagraphics.com.

Yeah! was a girl-centered comic book and was probably meant to appeal to girls. Still, fans of Bagge and Hernandez, regardless of gender, probably liked it. I was a fan of both men, and I liked Yeah! a lot.

Yeah! was like a comic book version of two early 1970s Hanna-Barbera Productions, Josie and the Pussycats and its follow-up, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space. These Saturday morning animated series were based on the long-running, Archie Comics title, Josie and the Pussycats (initially known as She’s Josie and later as Josie). Gilbert Hernandez’s art for Yeah! does have some similarities to the work of the late Dan DeCarlo, the creator of Josie and whose work has reportedly had a strong influence on Hernandez.

Yeah! is about an all-girl band called Yeah! Krazy, a lanky blonde, is the lead guitarist. Thick, curvy Woo-Woo is the keyboardist and a practical type. With her thick braids, Honey is Yeah!’s brown sugar and drummer. Believe it or not, Yeah! is the most popular band in the universe, and as the series begins, they are wrapping up their 50-planet intergalactic tour.

Now, the girls are ready to conquer Earth, where they are simply nobodies. Their manager, a skid-row bum type named Crusty, isn’t doing anything to help them become rich and famous rock stars. The trio turns to an industry power player and all-around shady guy named Mongrel Mogul. Surprisingly, Mongrel is ready to make the girls stars, but the cost may be too high. Well, at least most of the group seems to think so.

There were many things that I liked about Yeah! For me, it helped that this comic book was created by two of my all-time favorite cartoonists, Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez, who are also two the most acclaimed comics creators of the last 30 years. What I liked most was that Bagge and Hernandez somehow mixed the playfully screwy nature of the Saturday morning cartoons that appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC in the 1960s and 1970s with the Underground Comix sensibilities of the alternative comix and independent comics of the 1980s. Like Saturday morning cartoons, Yeah! was about a kind of science fiction that embraced weirdo aliens rather than science fact. From alt-comix came characters that were outcasts, lived on the margins of society, or had outsider personalities. Instead of being offensive and edgy, this unusual comic book series was imaginative and inventive. That it was approved by the comics industry watchdog group, the Comics Code Authority, testifies that this is an all-ages comic book.

Well, it was an all-ages gem, and I’m glad that its back, even in reprint form as a trade paperback. I still hold onto the fantasy that someday, Yeah! will return with new stories.


Yeah!


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