WW Philly: Comics Are For Kids Too!

On the final day of Wizard World Philadelphia 2008, a group of all-ages comics creators assembled for a panel on comics for kids. In attendance were Mark McKenna, creator of "Banana Tails," "Marvel Adventures" editor Nate Cosby, "Mini-Marvels" creator Chris Giarusso, "Power Pack" writer Fred Van Lente, "Tiny Titans" creators Art Baltazar and Franco, as well as the Eisner-nominated creator of "The Mighty Skullboy Army," Jacob Chabot.

The creators first talked about their various projects. Baltazar and Franco related their experiences with DC editor Jann Jones, who was a fan of their work before they came to DC. "She said, I want something just like 'Patrick The Wolf Boy'," referring to their creator-owned series, "but with DC characters." Not long after that, "Tiny Titans" was born. Jokes were exchanged at the panel regarding the idea of doing "Even Tinier Titans."

Nate Cosby was asked about the idea of Marvel partnering with Scholastic for the purposes putting out comics aimed at helping kids learn to read. He revealed that Marvel has indeed had talks with Scholastic, but nothing firm has been set just yet. He referred to the Marvel Adventures line of all-ages comics, as well as "Spider-Girl," and Marvel's digest program as ways that Marvel is reaching out to kids.

Cosby kidded fellow panelist Chris Giarusso, saying Giarusso owes him a bunch of sketches for all the work he has sent Giarusso's way. He solicited suggestions from the audience over what he should have Giarusso draw, with the idea of Superman holding up a whole platform full of heroes as well as a cheerleader-style pyramid of DC's speedsters being bandied about.

There were two kids in the audience, and the panelists took the opportunity to interview them, and find out about their likes and dislikes. Asked about the Iron Man movie, one young boy said he really liked it, to which Cosby expressed shock. Questioned about his apparent distaste for the film, Cosby explained that he didn't care for the final battle scene, finding the manner in which Obadiah Stane was defeated to be too similar to "Spider-Man 3." The panel then asked the kids which comics they liked, with one citing "Tiny Titans" and the other saying "Power Pack," much to the gratification of the creators of those books.

Speaking about "Power Pack," Fred Van Lente related a personal anecdote, where the father of a young autistic boy came up to him, and told him that he had great difficulty in getting his son to read, but that the boy had taken an instant liking to "Power Pack." Cosby and Van Lente then talked about the current Power Pack miniseries, "Power Pack: Day One," which tells the story of how the team got together. It's written by Van Lente with art by Gurihiru and back-ups illustrated by Colleen Coover, that explain the Pack's powers in scientific terms.The panel wrapped up with a round of questions from the audiences regarding the panel's interests in comics. McKenna cited the new "Silver Surfer" series as one he is enjoying, while Nate Cosby recommended the "Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" by Don Rosa. Van Lente suggested "Popeye," while Chabot mentioned "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Invincible." Giarusso cited "The Walking Dead," and Baltazar mentioned Jeph Loeb's new "Red Hulk" book. The panelists then thanked everyone for coming, and the panel concluded.

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