Monday, May 5, 2014

The Comics Industry Has A Problem

No - this isn't another feminist rant.

I'm talking about a quite different problem. On Saturday I went to hang out at the store and promote Emerald Star Comics stuff for Free Comic Book Day.

Needless to say, I looked over the offerings. The store had a kids' table and then the 16+ comics. The kids' table had things like Archie, Teen Titans Go, Hello Kitty - a really nice selection.

All of it aimed at children under 10. Only the GoTG books were really something an 11 or 12 year old would pick up. The art style, the writing style, everything about those books screamed "Give this to your little kid."

Then the adult comics are marketed as 16+.

I later talked to a librarian who showed up to advertise a comics-related event at her library. She said she never has anything to recommend to the 10-16 year old age range...and that the kids' comics she reads are all poor quality.

Like I said.

The comics industry has a problem.

There were tons of kids getting comics, but when these kids grow out of Sonic and Spongebob Squarepants, there's very little for them to grow into. Some of the adult comics are suitable. Some are not. It's hard for parents - especially parents who aren't comic fans themselves - to know what to pick up. And yes, there are some excellent all ages books out there. Bone comes to mind. Runaways was good, but is on hiatus. Avengers Academy was awesome for 14-15 year olds, but has since been canceled.

John Campbell said the golden age of science fiction is 12. That's probably pretty close to the golden age of comic books - but not many people are writing comic books for 12 year olds.

So, how about it? Percy Jackson has already been converted, but there has to be plenty of middle grade literature out there that would work well as comics. Or maybe some of the fine indie creators out there can come up with something?

THIS is why we aren't getting new comics fans. We aren't catering to middle grade and early young adult readers the way we need to if we want to bring them into the industry.