|07-25-2012, 12:50 AM||#1|
Bizarro Beach Head
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: St. Louis
Kids and Comics
Like a lot of people around here, I'm a strong advocate of getting kids interested in comic books. If you fellow artists and writers are interested in a positive story, I'd like to share this little (lengthy) anecdote that happened to me over the weekend.
I was in Texas visiting family. A cousin of mine had gotten married a few years ago and his wife has three children from a previous marriage. I was meeting these new cousins for the first time on Saturday. Of particular interest was the young boy of 12 or 13 years of age, whom we'll call Remington.
Young Remington is a restless child with some emotional issues, takes medication for ADHD, and probably some other things that I don't know about. There was probably about 50 or 60 people there for my grandmother's 80's birthday. Aunts, Uncles, Children, Grandchildren, and Great grandchildren were rolling in and out of the old Texas farm house all day. At a certain point, most people had congregated inside, filling the house and carrying on conversations wherever they could sit.
In one room, the television was on and somebody was cycling through channels when Star Trek came on. Remington insisted Star Trek be left on and proceeded to talk to nobody in particular about the show. After a while it became clear to me that he didn't actually know much about Star Trek and I began answering a lot of the questions he was posing. Our conversation moved on to other franchises such as Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Batman.
At this point, I decided to give him a copy of my comic book (I try to have a few with me at all times). This boy, who had been running around non stop all day, sat quietly for 30 solid minutes reading this little 28 page book. It turns out that he had only read one comic before, shown to him by a friend, and he didn't understand it because the story wasn't finished at the end of the book. Although, he was very interested in science fiction and superheroes, has lots of video games featuring Spider-man and Batman, seen lots of movies, he had never been given a comic book. He knew that these movies and games were based on comics, but had only heard about them, never really read them.
Remington lives in the country and has no access to comics. He doesn't read webcomics because he doesn't have the patience to sit at a computer. I say with all modesty and humility, Remington's mind was blown by this comic. I didn't tell him that I wrote it.
The next day he came up to me and asked why I didn't tell him that I made comics. He spent the whole day asking me about comics of all kinds. Who were all the Marvel characters, who were all the DC characters, what kind of stories are there, and so on. Most importantly, he wanted to know where to get more comics. I went through the whole process with him, told him to look in comic sections of book stores, told him to talk to his parents about finding a comic book store in the city, and told him to look for some online stores. I also promised to mail him a bunch of my old comics that I don't read anymore.
I was struck by this incident because it was such a perfect example of the problem so many comic creators complain about these days. Kids love comics. There is a whole generation of kids who are interested in comics but have no access to them. It's not just the lack of newsstand distribution. It had never even occurred to anyone in my family to buy Remington a comic and he didn't know where to ask for them. Comics aren't seen as a viable form of entertainment, they are a niche, expensive, collectors hobby.
I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but comics need to be cheap, disposable, and available to kids. I'm not saying that everybody should be making all ages material, just that we need to be conscious of kid's interest in comics. It's the only way to grow the medium. I'm glad to say I grew the audience by one more reader.