Comikaze: Making Comics Great for Kids

“Making Comics Great for Kids” panel at Comikaze. (Photo © K.Moore)

When I was at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Con on November 2, one pleasure was circulating without the pressure of people compressing you like toothpaste squeezing out of the tube, which happens at some other cons. I took the opportunity to go to part of the panel on “Making Comics Great for Kids,” including the panelists’ recommendations for all-ages comics.

The panelists included: Tom Pinchuk (Max Steel, Unimaginable), Joe LeFavi (Fraggle Rock, Thrilling Adventure Hour), Mairghread Scott (Transformers Prime, Rescue Bots), Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet, Daisy Kutter) and Yehudi Mercado (Pantalones, TX).

The panelists cautioned that the authors of kids’ media must be clear about why they are putting a message out there, be accountable and take responsibility for their message.

On the other hand, Mairghread Scott objects when people say kids can’t handle danger or sadness or violence… whatever it might be. They have tragedy, sadness, in their lives too and narratives can help them handle it and give them comfort when done well. The fictional world should be scaled to kid size so the kids relate and aren’t overwhelmed or bored.

The panelists also revealed that some publishers of kid-friendly titles limit the presence of specific guns or weapons, cigarettes, or cursing. While starting to write with these constraints is difficult, Kaz commented that as he imagines his own children reading his books, he now prefers not to write with traditional guns in the story. The writers also noted that it is not mature, but immature, to use violence in the story to solve problems and plot difficulties. The most interesting problems are not about violence but politics, human relations, and growth. One recommendation for  high quality writing following these constraints is Unimaginable. They also suggested looking at Neil Gaiman’s dissection of Little Red Riding Hood in Sandman.

Closing out, we heard recommendations for all-ages comics (not in order):

My Little Pony
Reed Gunther (wordless but a great read)
Adventure Time
Stuff of Legend (a mix of Narnia and Toy Story)
Amulet
Hero Bear and the Kid
Princeless
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

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Kay works with engineers, scientists, and programmers as a writer and editor, which she prefers over working with muggles. When sufficiently caffeinated, she geeks out over words, communication, biology, needlework, and recreational sports. And, of course, chocolate. Her children _may_ have been exposed to D&D at a too-young age, but they continue to play happily to this day.