For Free Comic Book Day Rebellion released a kids comic. They took some old British IPs, dusted them off, and gave them to some creators to update them. It was a pretty neat collection and it even had a game in the middle. I bring this up because I was also catching up on my 2000AD Thrillcasts and they also bring up kids comics. Or rather the lack of them.
And that got me thinking. Where did the kid comics go? Do I not notice them because I’m not looking for them? But really if you wanted a kids comic, where would you look? When I was a kid I could always find them on my trusty spinner rack at the local grocery store. Or if I was really desperate, I could go to the gas station up the street and buy them. But when I was in the States recently, I couldn’t find any comics in the supermarket or at the gas station. And last time I checked kids aren’t buying things from Amazon with their kid credit card.
The simply answer is they don’t exist anymore. And if they do, they’re harder to find.
When I went to comic book stores, whether it was in New York City or in Belleville Illinois, I couldn’t find any kids comics. Comics today are tailored to adults. They’re dark, moody, and mostly grounded in realism. There are light hearted themes to be sure, but the language and text are for adults, definitely not for kids.
If kids comics no longer exist then how do kids get into comics? During my childhood days, you had Archie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sonic the Hedgehog, and a bunch of Disney and Looney Toon titles. You don’t have those anymore.
And that makes me ask the big question. If adults are buying comics, what are the kids buying? If these adults die out, will the comics industry die out too? Kids comics were the gateway to adult comics. Some argue that kids comics were even the gateway to reading.
To be sure there are big players out there that are trying to change that. Rebellion’s kids comic release is one example and they’re also doing a lot of releases tailored for kids. Their Roy of the Rovers line was an interesting one, and if you listen to that Thrillcast, they even get a bit into the economics of it and what it really means to release comics for kids. You can find that here.
DC split its comic book lines and included a YA theme. Marvel seems to be doing the same. But comics specifically tailored to younger kids that aren’t just sprinkled in some magazine? Where are those? There must be a market for this. There must be.
And this could be a difficult problem to solve. If you want to buy comics for your five year old, what would you buy? Would you pop down to your local comic book store and buy up an issue of Superman? Spider-Man? X-Men?
I hope there’s a creator or two out there that would see there’s definitely a gap in the market and this is an opportunity. There must be a publisher out there that would take a risk and really try to figure out this problem. I want to be able to buy something for my kids that isn’t Donald Duck, or rather that is something else than Donald Duck.
Comics aren’t just for adults, they’re for kids too. And these kids are the future and we need them for this wonderful medium to survive.