EP0049: Comics for Kids

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A look at several comics that are great for kids.


Host: Today we take a look at 7 series of comics and graphic novels that are great for kids. Straight ahead.

Announcer: Welcome to the Classy Comics podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.

Host: When I was growing up, my dad didn’t actually let me read superhero comics and I think that there was actually good reason for that. There’s a lot of comic material out they are that’s dark and gritty and just not very appropriate for kids to read but if you’re a fan of comics and you’d like to introduce that to your kids and you want something that’s not going to expose them to a lot of dark, violent stuff as well as sexual content that you don’t really want them introduced to, it can be a challenge. So today, we’re going to go ahead and take a look at some comics and comic series that are good for kids and I should note in talking about this that in addition to comics that are really you know just not appropriate for kids, there are comics that are made for kids that also can be inappropriate in other ways, such as talking down to the kids and not really telling good stories. So, we’re kind of looking for quality in both ways. So, I’ve got seven different ideas, six really for kids of all ages for the most part and 1 for slightly older kids. So, we’ll talk about that. I also will mention one option which is to introduce your kids to Gold and Silver Age comics. In general, the comics did not tend to be nearly as graphic and certainly did not have the amount of sexual content that many modern comics will contain. However, you need to be aware that these were written for a different time, so a lot of the language in terms of actual dialogue may sound weird to kids. In addition, particularly during the Golden Age, some superheroes could be almost bloodthirsty in their reactions or callous, at the very least and some books contain material that could be, at the very least, racially insensitive if not, racist. So, it’s something you need to use your judgment on.

Alright, well onto the ones that I would recommend and we’re going to go ahead and start with Duck Comics and by Duck Comics, I mean the comics featuring Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck. If you’re like me and you grew up watching Duck Tales, many of the ideas for stories for Duck Tales came right out of the pages of these comics, particularly those by Carl Barks, talking about the adventures of Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck. Now I mention some of the older comics being a bit dated. I really don’t think that is a case with Duck Comics. They’re written very well, in a way I think holds up magnificently and doesn’t depend on the time period. Certainly, kids will recognize the time period is different but I don’t think it will make a huge load of difference. They’re great adventure stories with a good sense of adventure and they are enjoyed not just in the United States but the world over. In fact, for many European comic fans, the real comics are Duck Comics, forget about all these superheroes. I wouldn’t go that far but they are really enjoyable and they’re great for kids. The Carl Barks library, which is being republished in 30 volumes, contains works from the 1940s to the mid-1960s and there’s also the Don Rosa library, containing his works with Scrooge and Donald and the boys from 1980s to 2006. They’re both really good writers. They’re good reads for kids and so I’d encourage you to check out the Carl Barks library or the Don Rosa library series, which are really just great collections of Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck stories.

Alright, the next thing I want to mention is the D.C. Animated Universe comics. Now this is not something everyone knows because so many people grew up watching the D.C. Animated Universe programs, Batman Adventures, Superman Adventures, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Well there was actually a comic book series that was launched, generally around all of these different series. Batman had actually several comic series. There were the original Batman Adventures comic series and then that was followed by Batman and Robin Adventures and then that was eventually followed by Gotham Adventures which featured more of the characters from the New Animated Series and actually was the longest-running series of Batman and then was followed by another series of Batman Adventures, all set in the world of the D.C. Animated Universe. And then there was Superman Adventures, which could have varying qualities. It was really good when Mark Millar was writing Superman Adventures. He’s known for a lot of not kid friendly stuff but his work on Superman Adventures was great and showed some really good kid friendliness. Justice League Adventures was a really good series. Justice League Unlimited, I don’t think worked quite as well though there are some issues in that series that worked and most of these are pretty good for kids. The only thing I would caution on is the Batman Beyond stuff, which I think particularly when you get into like Batman Beyond 2.0 in the later series of the comics. These are not really written for kids. They’re written for adults who grew up watching the series and so have a bit more adult content. It’s not horrible or anything but again parental discretion advised.

Another one, Batman: Brave and the Bold. Batman: Brave and the Bold was a really fun T.V. series for kids where Batman would team up with a different superhero from the D.C. Universe, some of them quite obscure, every episode and it introduced the kids to a lot of the D.C.U and it was fun. In many ways, drew a lot from the 1960s Batman even had the 60s Bat-mobile, which is definitely cool and there was a comic book spin-off. There was a couple, there was one series Batman: Brave and the Bold and then there was another one the All-New Batman: Brave and the Bold. To be honest I think Batman: Brave and the Bold is a really good comic series. All-New Batman: Brave and the Bold, not so much, but if you pick up Batman: Brave and the Bold the kids can read pretty kid-friendly adventures which include the great president Batman story and also get to meet some of the key characters in the D.C. Universe.
Another one, Batman 66. There was, for many years, a lot of people throwing shade at the 1960s Batman T.V. series. That it was so campy, so horrible, etcetera, etcetera but fans out there really loved it and Jeff Parker wrote the Batman 66 series. He was the main writer and I think the best one on it, in which he told new stories in that universe. They also introduced some characters to that universe who were later Batman creations such as Harley Quinn and Bane and it is mostly a kid-friendly presentation. Now, of course, it is written with nostalgia value in mind and so in some ways, appeals to adults who, again, grew up watching the Batman series but there are still kids who grew up watching the 1966 Batman series. I was reminded of that recently when I read the story of a boy who had cancer and he ended up dying tragically when he was 18 but the series of Batman he grew up with was the 1960s Batman series and one of his last wishes was a ride in the 1960s Bat-mobile, which shows the series still has currency. So, if your kids like the 1960s Batman T.V. series, yeah pick up Batman 66. They’re collected in several trade paperbacks and they’re really fun reads. I particularly like the last couple of issues where it shows how the Batman opening theme came to be in real life so it’s just classics, a lot of fun.

The Marvel adventure series; this is a series of books that Marvel did, I think, late 90s, early 2000s, where they took Marvel classic superhero stories and they generally retold them in a modern, up to date, kid-friendly way and I’ve read a few issues and they are actually pretty good reading. They have them for most of the major heroes. Not all of the stories are just copies of the adult story, certainly, but there are quite a few heroes. So, if your kids like the Avengers, you can pick up a Marvel Adventures book and they can actually read about these heroes in a way that they can relate to and in a way that captures a lot of the classic feel.

I’m going to mention one Indie Comic here and that is “The Only Living Boy”. This is a series by David Gallaher and I read it and he actually was for sponsorship on another podcast. There’s no payment for this one but I really enjoyed the series. It essentially is about a boy who finds himself in this strange world wandering about. It’s a really good mystery. It’s kind of, in a way, he encounters all these strange people and creatures. In many ways, the art and the story reminds me it’s kind of a kid-friendly Flash Gordon story. It’s really just great adventure, good fun and I think “The Only Living Boy” is definitely worth a read.

Now I’ll go ahead and take a look at this series which I think is probably more a young adult but I think is worth discussing and that is The Spider-Girl series. The Spider-Girl series was launched in the 1990s and it began with a What If comic and this is what if the baby of Peter and Mary Jane had survived and Peter had lost his leg and couldn’t be Spider-Man and eventually she discovers that she has spider powers. She sets off on her own adventures and it’s really a good book. I like her because she is such a role model character because she really does struggle to do the right thing and she’s challenged because her parents are often reluctant about her superheroing and about the dangers and risks involved with that and she has to balance her sense of responsibility with her desire to be an obedient and good daughter. She has her failings, but she is such a good person and she has great adventures. There are some superb story art, some call to mind the original Spider-Man stories and she often takes a different direction. The entire series was written by Tom Defalco, who clearly wrote it as a labor of love. I do say that this is much more of a young adult series as it deals with a lot of issues that teenagers face and which younger kids might not be ready for. For example, domestic violence in a relationship at high school and May finds herself in a relationship with a boyfriend who is trying to demand that she subvert her own self. It’s a good story. Mayday Parker is just a great Spider Girl. She’s definitely a character in the comics landscape mess and it’s worth reading. Again, there are a few situations that are there that might make this not such a great read for younger kids but I think for teenagers this is a really, really good series. All issues of it are available at comixology.com. The series are in order, Spider-Girl, The Amazing Spider-Girl and Spectacular Spider-Girl and again 134 issues, a great amount of continuity for characters who was from an alternate universe.

So, I hope these suggestions will help you find good books to introduce your kids to the world of comics. We’ll will be back next time with our 50th episode and in the meantime send your comments to classycomicsguy@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at classycomicsguy. From Cascade, Idaho, this is your host Adam Graham signing off.

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