Growing up in the ’80s, I definitely remember the big change in the industry. There were subtle hints here and there, and then Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen came out, completely changing the comics landscape. Heroes became grittier. Villains got more bloodthirsty. And the mainstream media took notice.
That’s when an entire industry of fans united around the phrase “Comics aren’t just for kids anymore.” At some point in the future, though, the word “just” seemed to be yanked from that phrase. Mainstream superhero comics were now covering some serious adult topics such as rape and torture. Not something you’d expect in a book like Justice League or Green Lantern.
So these days it’s quite refreshing to see a company that caters to a younger audience. Sure Marvel and DC will always have books like Marvel Adventures and DC Super Friends to try and hook the comic-fans-in-training. But it’s rare to find other companies willing to take a chance like that. Which is why it’s worth taking a look at BOOM! Studios‘ line of kid-friendly books called BOOM! Kids.
Thanks to a key licensing agreement with Disney/Pixar, BOOM! Kids features comic series based on The Incredibles, Toy Story, Cars and Finding Nemo. There’s also The Muppet Show by Roger Langridge, and a Muppet Tales series, which features popular Muppets characters in fairy tale settings like Muppet Robin Hood and the forthcoming Muppet Peter Pan. As for Mickey Mouse and his whole gang, well they’re all about to get their due. The Disney Standards line will introduce classic Disney characters to a whole new generation of readers through the titles Walt Disney’s Comics And Stories, Donald Duck Adventures, Mickey Mouse Adventures and Uncle Scrooge.
“Obviously we’re looking to build the next generation of comic fans with these books, and every title is 100% kid-friendly,” says Aaron Sparrow, editor of the BOOM! Kids line. “The Muppet fan-base tends to skew a little older, but these characters, from the Toy Story gang to the classic Disney characters have such broad range appeal. The feedback we’ve gotten on these books is tremendous; there really is something in the BOOM! Kids line for everyone.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt when you have popular comics writer Mark Waid handling the writing chores on a book like The Incredibles. In addition to writing, Waid also serves as BOOM! Studios’ editor-in-chief. Working closely with partners such as Disney/Pixar, BOOM! Kids’ books also stay true to continuity to make them a natural extension and companion to the films. That relationship gives the company freedom to tell stories from all over the timelines of various properties. And clearly things seem to be working.
“The response to these books has been amazing,” says Sparrow. “At conventions we have so many parents who come up and thank us for putting out titles that they can read with their children, but that they also enjoy. That’s really an amazing statement, the idea that parents who love comics didn’t feel they could share the majority of the books being published today with their children. It’s something we’re looking to change.”
And it’s certainly a change that’d be quite welcome in an aging industry.