At the CO2 Comics blog, Gerry Giovinco (who moonlights as Santa—who knew?) encounters a kid who wants comics for Christmas and wonders how he will find them.
Will his parents know to go to a comic shop and if they do will they be able to find comics that are age appropriate for this little guy? When I was a kid you could find comic books anywhere, especially ones that a kid could enjoy.
Are there enough comics out there in the market today to maintain the enthusiasm of a six year old? Sadly, probably not.
What have we done. What have we done to comics.
Actually, I think comics are better than ever. Gerry, bless him, waxes nostalgic for something that no longer exists: Single-issue comics printed on cheap newsprint, with a complete story in each one, sold on a spinner rack. Those comics are definitely gone. Even an Archie floppy costs three bucks nowdays, and most single-issue comics are anything but kid stuff.
But spinner racks, the single-issue format, and cheap paper are what the philosophers call “accidentals.” What Gerry really misses is comics that are FUN! Those we have in abundance, and they are readily available to children. G-Man, The Unsinkable Walker Bean, Papercutz’s Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid graphic novels, Babymouse, Knights of the Lunch Table, Stone Rabbit, Boom! Studios’ Pixar, Muppet, and Disney comics—there’s something out there for every age and taste. Gerry mentions that comics used to be a boys’ club, and some of these are definitely gendered, but there’s a girls’ club now as well. (Want more? Good Comics for Kids, of which I am a member, just released its Best Comics for Kids 2010 list.)
All these are colorful, fun stories, complete in a single issue, and readily available to kids in bookstores and libraries. They aren’t as cheap as floppies used to be, but allowances are bigger these days, and lots of kids will get gift cards this Christmas. What’s more, kids love the iPad (I can testify personally to this) and they love using it to read comics. Archie has its own comics app, and there are several comics apps in the works that are designed specifically for kids. OK, not too many kids have iPads, but lots of parents do, and it’s robust enough to withstand a bit of rough handling. (Again, speaking from experience here.)
When I was a kid, Santa left an Archie comic in my stocking every Christmas. This year, my nieces and nephews are fighting over who gets to read My Grandparents are Secret Agents and Scrooge and Santa. Things haven’t changed that much; the format is different, but comics are still as much fun as ever.