Comics for my Kid is a multi-part bi-weekly series looking at the industry from a parent's view point. In this installment, we'll look at some issues surrounding availability of age appropriate content.
My daughter has grown up in a house which reads comic books. At the age of 4, I began to introduce comics into her reading. Her first love was the modern all-ages Power Pack books. From there she discovered Mouse Guard, Tiny Titans, and the various X-Men First Class runs. But now that she's reaching the age of 8, finding titles for her to read is proving to be problematic. She is rapidly becoming too mature for the "all-ages" titles but lacks the maturity to handle the content of the mainline comics.
Take Titans, for instance. She's gained a love of the Titans characters from Tiny Titans. But the current titles on the newsstand are far too dark for her to read. And this shows one of the flaws in the "all ages" approach to getting kids into comics: All ages books need to be viewed as a Gateway drug – they are a way to get them started but we need to constantly be moving them up the scale.
I recognize that development of another "tween" version of Titans would be cost prohibitive given the current marketplace. However, DC *has* Titans content which would be perfectly appropriate for her – the classic Wolfman/ Perez New Teen Titans run. But with DC's horrible management of their collections, the only versions of this in print are the significantly overpriced Hardcover Archives Editions. A $50 for 8 or 9 issues isn't something I feel comfortable giving to a child. The recently-announced New Teen Titans Omnibus is similarly priced wrong for getting these in the hands of kids. Something in the $18- $25 price range is likely more appropriate.
Marvel is a bit better in this regard with their "Classics" trade series. For example, Power Pack has several volumes of their classic run available in trade. But where Marvel falls short is their lack of cross promotion. *If* I know where to find the all ages Power pack books (a topic to be covered in my next installment), there's no way for me to know there's more sophisticated Power Pack fare to buy for her. Marvel actively lists related single issues in the back of their all ages book, but not collected editions. (For the record that tactic works -- who knew my daughter would like Thor?)
Scottie Young was right – there is *plenty* of age-appropriate content out there owned by the big two. The mistake they have made is by not properly packaging or communicating the availability of these stories.
Coming in part three: Distribution Issues.
Written or Contributed by: DonnaMoore