Owners of Aw Yeah Comics, Skokie Merchant of the Year, are excited to accept their award on July 15 at the Village Board meeting. Community members nominated and voted for different Skokie merchants. Over 200 ballots for 50 Skokie businesses were cast this year, with Aw Yeah Comics as the winner.
The shop at 4933 Oakton St. opened in March 2011, when three friends, Franco Aureliani, Art Baltazar and Marc Hammond wanted to open a store together. They each had a passion for comics and skills that would complement each other. Aureliani and Baltazar are acclaimed comic artists, and Hammond was already a business owner.
“It feels almost like a natural progression of what we have to do,” Baltazar said of opening the store.
Since Aw Yeah Comics has opened, it has brought a fun, independent, family-friendly shop to downtown Skokie.
“We really try to do stuff that’s inclusive, that’s good for all ages,” Hammond said. “We try to bring people from outside of Skokie to Skokie. Then hopefully once they’re done shopping at the store, they’ll go out to restaurants.”
Hammond said Aw Yeah Comics’ customer base covers a wide range of people. They have many regulars and subscribers, men and women, young and old.
Aw Yeah Comics is even a destination for people outside of Skokie. Baltazar and Aureliani have built such a loyal fan base from their work on DC comics and Tiny Titans that they have a following all over the world. Some fans travel to the store in Skokie to see Baltazar and Aureliani and their work.
The owners now have another comic as well. They call it Aw Yeah Comics, and it features the store’s two mascots Action Cat and Adventure Bug.
In the words of Baltazar, work in the comic industry has “engulfed my world.”
“It’s part of what we do every day now,” he continued. “You wake up and that’s it. We’re automatically thinking about the store and comic books and superheroes.”