Monday, January 30, 2012

A Word About Children's Comics

I write this post in front of a review I'll be posting tomorrow, done for a title that is clearly a children's comic.  This may come as a bit of a surprise to those of you who read this blog, as up to now I've done material that has been arguably targeted at a teen audience at the youngest.  I figured I'd therefore preface the upcoming review with a defense of my actions, on the off chance that I somehow offend my readers who may be expecting a particular kind of fare.

I've been a huge fan of comics and comic books in particular for well over half my life.  I consider my first readings of the X-Men and Spider-Man titles as an initiation into a world that has come to have a very important place in my life.  But if I dig further back, I know my fascination with sequential art and comics goes back to my childhood.  I remember reading comics in the newspapers that made me laugh out loud, and even got me interested in the lives of the characters involved.

It varied from comic to comic.  Garfield, for instance was hilarious, simply and enticingly drawn, and made me want to read the Garfield paperback collections that pervade library and bookstore shelves.  Calvin and Hobbes, in addition, was episodic, and helped along my appreciation for serialized narrative.  Not that there was a requirement for knowing the back-story, but Bill Watterson's strip was among the first to make me realize that many of the boy and his tiger's stories were told in unified story arcs over several strips.  These and other titles helped get me reading, drawing, and thinking about writing, story structure, and characterization, however minimally at my very young age.

And it is for reasons like those that I read, review, and enjoy children's comics.  There are many more sources of sequential art for young readers these days, and I couldn't be happier about it.  They are, in many ways, direct precursors to the more popular comics made for adults both young and old, but they are also a wonderful outlet for encouraging reading, literacy, and believe it or not, critical thought in children.  Like the materials you and I like to read routinely, well-written and illustrated children's comics can inspire creativity, teach them about life and the world, and at the very least, entertain and amuse.

Kids deserve all of that and more, and are arguably a harder audience to keep the attention of than teens and adults.  So while these comics may seem outwardly silly and crudely drawn on the surface, remember that it might not be a bad idea to give them a chance anyway.  A crazy pair of fighting birds who act like silly enemies may have a few profound things to say about the nature of friendship.  A tree that gives completely of itself to help the boy it loves may influence a child's perception of giving and taking in unforeseen ways.

And again, at the very least, it might just be silly and amusing entertainment that you can read through in an hour.  And really, what's so bad about that?

Check for my first such review tomorrow. ;-)

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