Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Random Thoughts On A Comic-Loving Librarian's School Visit Or Why Jenny Doesn't Read Comics.

I'm a librarian. I have Summer Reading Programs to promote. I have a bunch of free comics to give away thanks to my local comic book shop and their FCBD Extras. The one helps with buying silence at the elementary school as I talk about the other. And lo, did I make these observations.

1. There was a serious lack of honest-to-goodness child-friendly books this year. And by child-friendly, I mean actually written for kids as opposed to being written on a child's reading level. And there's an especially appalling lack of books that might interest young girls.

Case in point: my store didn't even one copy of Amelia Rules; a great book for elementary-school age kids and one of the few FCBD books with a female protagonist. We also didn't get Neotopia, which I have yet to read but understand is all-ages, very good and has a female hero. I got a few (i.e. a dozen) Owly, but that's really only good for pre-readers and 1st and 2nd grade. X-Men centers on a new female character, but is written for Teens. So what does that leave us out of the "Gold" comics for younger readers that feature female characters on the cover?

Archie's Pal Jughead (Betty and Veronica guest-star) and Tiny Titans.

2. There are few constant things in this ever-changing world but these few constants do bring me comfort. One of them is that Archie comics are pretty much the same as they were when I was a kid and kids today will still take anything other than an Archie comic if it is available.

3. This includes Tiny Titans, which is quite possibly the worst book for kids I've ever seen. The art should be in the dictionary next to the word "condescending". The jokes, such as they are, are even worse than the bad pun humor in Teen Titans Go! But worst of all, the book presumes you already know who all of the characters are but doesn't give any introduction at all to the characters. Which is rather important if you're to understand why Lil' Ravager moaning about her dad, Mr. Slade, becoming principal, is a big deal.

4. Am I the only one who thinks that the meta-humor that dominates Tiny Titans might be tolerable if it centered on the kids annoying their principal (Captain Underpants meets Bart Simpson style) and each issue featured Robin shouting "Hey Mr. Wilson!"?

5. Bad as Tiny Titans is, it's still better than Marvel's cynical Iron Man/Hulk free "comic book", which is actually just a catalog for upcoming Iron Man and Hulk mini-series and trade-paperbacks. It's the FCBD equivalent of sending away for a Lil' Orphan Annie Decoder ring and finding out that the big secret message is "Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine". It's a commercial!

6. Still, there is some hope. Witness this exchange between two girls as they were picking out the books.

Girl #1: All the girl comics are gone!

Girl #2: No, there's still some Iron-Man.

1 comment:

  1. I know. I saw the cover of the latest one yesterday. And the cover gag is entirely dependent on -
    a) knowing that Robin once had a horrible "disco" costume back in the early '80s.
    b) knowing what the heck disco is.
    Most 6th graders don't know that, never mind your average six year old.