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Comics for My Kid: Part I - Introduction

If comic book imagery is so pervasive among kids, why are comic books not? Comics for Kids is a new bi-weekly column examining the issues surrounding introducing a new generation to reading comics -- looking at content and distribution of comics from a parent's point of view.


Comics are a dying art form.

I don't think this is a big secret to anyone. Looking around the internet it's very clear that both fans and professionals are worried about the shrinking size of the market. In September, Erik Larson noted in his twitter feed [1]:
So--in August--no comic book topped 100,000 in sales? That can't be a good sign. That's happened what--ONCE in the history of comics? The sky isn't falling--we're not all doomed--but it is a sobering reminder that this market is not healthy.

A number of theories exist why we're seeing a shrinking marketplace: electronic piracy; creators "destroying" characters with long histories; rising prices; event fatigue; monthly titles written for trades rather than serialization. In this comedy of errors, all of these factors, and more, have been moving the industry slowly towards these lower numbers. But as a parent, the one item which troubles me the most is the challenges in locating age-appropriate content for kids.  Without instilling a love for the comic medium in the next generation, the art form, whether in digital or print media will go the way of the dinosaur.

In a September blog [2] posting Scottie Young commented:

My nephew is 5. For the last 3 years he refused to wear anything that didn't have either Spider-Man or Batman on it. From his shirt to his shoes, he was sporting comic book gear. But my sister didn't know where to get him comic books. For all she knows, Spider-Man was created to be on a shirt, not in a book. Now, I know, that's an extreme case. But it's just an example.

 

Comic book characters are pervasive in our culture at the moment: top selling toy lines for both DC and Marvel; apparel (I just bought a pair of Spiderman underwear from Target); movies; even home goods like cups and plates for kids feature Iron Man and Batman. On Halloween night, there will be a parade of superheroes on my doorstep. So if kids are into superheroes, why aren't they into comics? Over the course of this series I hope to examine in detail some of the problems which limit the introduction of comics to kids and look at strategies publishers, retailers and parents can adopt to encourage children to find the same love we have for the form.

Coming in part two: Availability of appropriate content.

[1] http://www.comicon.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=577758&page=1 [2] http://www.skottieyoung.com/2010/09/kids-comics-and-saving-world.html



Written or Contributed by: DonnaMoore
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