Comics for Kidson November 24, 2009 at 11:32 am
The discussion runs along two parallel tracks that occasionally overlap:
1) There are no good comics for kids.
2) They don’t make all-ages comics like they used to.
Although I’ve seen many counter-examples of both points, I have to agree with the sentiments behind them. They echo what Kyle and I have said to each other over the past few years, wandering out of comic shops empty-handed.
As kids, we hit the comic book store at least once a month, and the notion that we wouldn’t walk out with our arms full of as many comics as our allowances permitted was unimaginable. Unthinkable. Impossible.
I read my first Spider-Man comic at age six. It was a Pocket paperback collecting Amazing Spider-Man #11-20, the classic stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko — and it hooked me. I spent the next ten years catching up on back issues, origin stories, and the then-modern comics (I’m sure I bought every single comic that even mentioned the Hobgoblin on its cover).
That’s why we started Smash. We got to talking about what we missed in the comics that we grew up loving, and what we wanted to see in our ideal superhero comic, and decided to create it ourselves.
It’s important to note that, even as kids, we knew the difference between kids’ comics and the “real” ones. At that time, Spider-Man made appearances on the PBS show The Electric Company, and Marvel had a series of spin-off comics for “easy reading” called Spidey Super Stories. Being an obsessive fan, I would pick these up and thumb through them — but they always seemed wrong: the stories were too simple, even silly, and this was clearly not the “real” Spider-Man.
I didn’t want to read a comic for kids — I just wanted to be enthralled by the “regular” comics.
That’s why I don’t think of Smash as just a “kids’ comic,” but an all-ages comic. The people I’ve encountered who really love it are my age, or closer to it than children (much as I would love to have Smash read by a younger audience, as well).
The most frustrating part about reading the blog posts mentioned above is having to contain the desire to frantically wave my arms and holler, “OVER HERE!! Hey, look at us! Just turn your heads this way!!”
There’s a strange ghetto quality to being a webcomic. It’s a bit like open-mic amateur night, where, because anyone can sign up to get onstage and play, it doesn’t matter if you brought a guitar — you’re only a “real” musician when a label signs you.
And, when your silly little webcomic finally gets published in book form, then you’ll be a real comic.
This isn’t true of all webcomics, of course; certainly there are some hugely successful ones that are taken seriously and even get mentioned on The Beat from time to time. The rest of us are amateurs fumbling on the stage, hoping people will like what they hear enough to look up from the pool table in the back, even for just a few moments.
So, if you don’t mind — before you take that shot (you’re gonna scratch on the eight, BTW) — glance up here for just a second.
If you’re looking for a good all-ages comic that’s safe for kids to read and which you’ll likely enjoy as well, it couldn’t hurt to give Smash a try. Start here and see what you think.