Much has been made of the drive of nostalgia in media right now. Stranger Things has brought the '80s back into the prominence of the target demographic, and while other properties have tried - to varying degrees of success - to play on the same type of nostalgia grab, it's the quality of the new story being brought to the time that makes certain properties successful. What does this have to do with Joshua Hauke's reminiscence of his childhood? Because the stories are real, though exaggerated, and he's managed to find a way to convey the truth, joy, and love behind all of the many antics that this cartoon family goes through. There's plenty of ways to tell a story about growing up with the myths and truths that make a home something special, but not everyone can share that perfect encapsulation of that experience without faltering to a "guess you had to be there." You didn't have to be in Hauke's house to be a part of that family; he builds a nostalgia that we can all revel in.
This is a story about young kids, and, as such, it can be read by kids. My own son is still too young for the comic format, but in a few years I'll be sharing the Hauke hijinks with him, knowing that it will doom me as a parent when his imagination is stoked by the tomfoolery. The trade off, of course, will be the wondrous creativity that it will foster in him. Sure, I may have trouble explaining to in-laws why my son is fishing for Toilet Sharks or their overprotection of their baskets from the Easter Walrus, but that kind of bonkers nonsense is a part of the perfect home that I can imagine, and fitting with the goofs that we already engage in. Hauke has a unique ability to bring you into the fun and be able to approach both sides equally. I find myself rooting for the boys as much as their folks, and finding joy behind it all.
The art style remains steady and fun. This is aimed to be accessible to anyone, and, as such, is incredibly inviting with the great character designs, exaggerated expressions, and bright color palette. Not every web comic can transition easily to the page, and even though Hauke plays with formatting and panel order, the crossover is seamless and nothing is lost.
It's always rewarding to find someone who's able to make a comic that can be mature and goofy at the same time. The fun takes you by the hand and tosses you into the crazy, but the mature approach to communicating that fun to the reader is the skill that makes this book work for everyone so well. No one could walk away from these tales without recognizing something of themselves somewhere within the pages, whether feeding their pet monster or the wonder of a child beginning to catch on to his father's shenanigans. You'll be home here.
Share the stories that move you.
Creative Team: Joshua Hauke
Publisher: Joshua Hauke
Click here to purchase.
*Creator Joshua Hauke has provided samples from Sweater Vest Switcheroo which may be previewed below.