Comics are a perfect tool to create a love of reading in children. They can help young readers to expand their vocabulary by combining words and images, and still present an understandable story for those who aren’t yet able to read. Additionally, a lot of comic book titles allow kids to continue their favorite cartoon or movie adventures by featuring characters they are already familiar with. Comics can be a cheap and effective tool for young readers — but figuring out where to start can be a difficult task.
I previously worked in a comic shop which was a job I loved and took pride in. Helping people find new things they’d enjoy made me happy — and it was an important duty. A large number of parents came in expecting the same stories they grew up with, which were often moderated by the Comics Code Authority to be appropriate for all readers. Unfortunately for these parents, the CCA rules have been abandoned by a number of companies and there is no standard rating system for comics. You have to know what you want, or hope that you have quality employees at the store, and even then finding quality all age comics from the Big 2 (Marvel and DC) is a difficult task. DC just cancelled its all ages Superman Family Adventures, for example. Luckily, you can find quality comics material online and for far less money.
MonkeyBrain Comics is a digital independent label started by comics writer and father Chris Roberson that produces a number of titles, including a few high quality all ages books. The price for each issue hovers between $.99 and $1.99, making the books far less expensive than any of the $2.99 mainstream titles. And if you have an iPad or a child safe computer, the digital issues are a nice alternative to paper books — especially for younger readers.
Action Cats is a high flying feline adventure by writers Adam P. Knave and Lauren Vogelbaum with Eamon Dougherty providing the dynamic and slapstick illustrations. The series follows the 4 feline heroes as they attempt to save the world while also dealing with normal cat issues. The series has wonderful images that mean readers can follow along most of the story without actually reading the words, which is something that is vital to all ages comics. The recommended reader age is 9 but as long as you are fine with cartoony violence the series can appeal to even younger readers.
Aesop’s Ark is a beautifully illustrated series written by J. Torres who worked on a number of comic series based on animated series such as Teen Titans, Batman: Brave and the Bold and the fantastic all ages graphic novel Power Lunch. The story focuses on the animals aboard Noah’s ark telling series of fables to pass the time. While some of the fables are a bit too simplistic for older readers, younger readers can easily be delighted by the series and its wonderful penciled illustrations by Jennifer L. Meyer. The recommended age for readers is 9 and up, but using the series for a bedtime story or simply as artwork for the children to look over would be a fine use for the series.
There are other series that are geared towards slightly older readers, such as the magical adventure series Amelia Cole and the Unknown World (some violence, some more mature topics – PG rating), the reformed super villain series Edison Rex (some of the language might be too difficult for younger readers and there is also cartoon violence) and a number of others that are coming soon.
Next week I’ll be discussing Marvel’s and DC’s attempts at the all ages markets and I’ll recommend some collected titles that can be enjoyed by all.