Yeah!


By Peter Bagge & Gilbert Hernandez, with Jaime Hernadez & Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-412-2

More generally known for their challenging (I so loathe that word “alternative”) material for mature audiences, cartooning legends Peter (Neat Stuff, Hate, Buddy Bradley) Bagge and Gilbert (Love & Rockets, Birdland, Sloth) Hernandez collaborated in 1999 on an intriguing and manically enticing, all-ages cartoon romp for the grievously underserved juvenile girls market, published by mainstream industry leader DC under their WildStorm imprint.

Said feature has finally been collected – regrettably without the gloriously vivid colour – in a superbly silly upbeat collection that will hopefully, in these more enlightened graphic times, find the approving audience it deserved.

As Bagge relates in his introduction, the original concept was an updating of Dan DeCarlo’s Josie and the Pussycats (voluntarily created under the strictures of the Comics Code) which would appeal to a pre-teen market; inspired by the writer’s complete immersion in the Girl-Power culture of the Spice Girls and their many imitators, thanks to his own daughter turning eight and discovering pop music…

Yeah! follows the trials and tribulations of fresh young New Jersey girls Woo-Woo, Honey and Krazy, who with their on-again, off-again, sleazy-hippie-burn-out manager Crusty seek stardom and a steady paycheque. Naturally it’s not quite that straightforward…

The girls’ extremely unique situation is introduced in ‘Everybody Say Yeah!’ as they finish a tour of the galaxy which sees them crowned “the Most Popular Band in the History of the Universe” before returning to Earth where they are still completely unknown and unable to land a single gig. Crusty has unique contacts and connections but none of them are on the planet of his birth. The best he can manage here is a cheesy school talent contest with their arch rival boy-band The Snobs…

Fed up, fame-hungry keyboardist Woo-Woo sets up a meeting with disgusting mega-millionaire Mongrel Mogul, who agrees to manage and promote them – but only if guitarist Krazy agrees to marry him. Although Woo-Woo thinks it’s worth it the girls eventually decline and Mogul instead aligns himself with their arch-enemy Miss Hellraiser…

None of the performers in Yeah! are ordinary or average. Woo-Woo’s ambitions are all-encompassing, diminutive drummer Honey is a Vegan eco-activist with a befuddled hippie boyfriend called Muddy and Krazy has telepathic powers. … And old Crusty really does commune regularly with extraterrestrials…

We meet the parents in ‘Woo-Woo, Phone Home!’ as the girls fail at a succession of menial jobs whilst waiting for the Big Time (alien money being useless on Earth) before giving up and moving to the Planet Erb where they’re properly appreciated. Unfortunately they – and especially Muddy’s goat – can’t handle the food and they have to go back when Woo-Woo’s terrifyingly blue-collar dad gets ill – but not before Crusty signs up and then abandons an Erbian tribute act called “!yaeH”…

‘Stalky’ reveals that whilst they’ve been gone an alien has been crashing at Krazy’s place, consuming her stupendous stash of junk-food (the only thing she ever eats), but the girls have bigger problems: Crusty has lined them up to be Miss Hellraiser’s backing band – and for free!

‘The Origins of Yeah!’ reveals how the girls met, when The Snobs became their enemies and why Hellraiser isn’t in Yeah! anymore, whilst ‘Yeah! Takes Off!’ uncovers Crusty’s alien connections and the girls first intergalactic successes, before ‘Honey’s Crisis!’ highlights corporate skulduggery and girly passions as Krazy and Woo-Woo become rivals for the attention of Hobo Cappilletto – the most successful boy pop-star in the World – culminating in the minor mega-sensation making his romantic play in ‘Hobo’s in Love!’

The band gets caught up in an interplanetary conflict when ‘Yeah! Goes to War!’, unexpectedly becoming folk heroes of planet Sunburnia before the fight for fame comes to an abrupt end in ‘Make Way for !yaeH’ as the erstwhile Erbian trio become a sensation on Earth whilst Yeah! still can’t get arrested in their own home town…

The volume ends with creator biographies and a mini-saga written and illustrated by Bagge hilariously depicting ‘A Day in the Life of The Snobs’

There’s precious little around for kids and especially girl readers in American funnybooks: their options relegated to Archie Comics’ prodigious, but generally safe, output or whatever manga makes it into English translation so this intriguing and wildly imaginative series which seamlessly combined fantasy, science fiction, fashion, pop and school cultures in a wild blend of frantic fun and thoroughly deserves another chance to shine.

Moreover let’s hope the publishers follow up with more of the same and Bagge’s marvellous warts-and-all comedic comics-industry expose Sweatshop is soon to follow…

© 2011 Peter Bagge. This edition © 2011 Fantagraphics Books. All Rights Reserved.

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