Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Comic Books for Kids

With recent episodes of the hit TV series “The Big Bang Theory” fresh in my mind, my oldest son (dare I inform you that he is a gifted child) rattled off vital information about the Flash, Green Lantern, and Red Tornado. Future images of my child’s adult years swarmed my brain. Somewhere at age 27, he would be wearing a Flash T-shirt sorting through comics books with his select group of scientist friends.

Rather than panic, I have embraced it. Comic books and super heroes have been a welcome break from my child’s usual daily grind of power point presentations, work on the computer, video games, science experiments, space books, and fictional novels. (I threw the last one in to assure you that my son is reading books daily and not wasting away on video games and comic books!) My son’s new found obsession has created somewhat of a challenge. Despite having ventured to the comic book store for over a year for select Star Wars comics, the whole universe (and beyond!) of superhero comic books is rather complex. Thankfully, I was already aware that most comic books are not for children.

So what is a parent to do now a days? Thanks to Cartoon Network, our off-spring are becoming addicted to “Young Justice,” and “Batman Brave and the Bold” as we were to “Voltron” and “Thundercats.” Thankfully, not only can you find toys and video games based on the series, but age appropriate comic books as well. Comic books can be a great way to supplement your child’s reading while providing kindle for their imagination. If you have a child like mine, the excitement of starting a collection is a welcomed bonus to the awesomeness of comic books.

For parents new to the comic book world (or ones that have not read a comic book since they were young), let me offer some advice. As stated before, comic books are not just for children any more. In fact most are not. Popular characters like Batman, Green Lantern, Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Iron Man, X-Men and even Superman, will possibly have story lines which include violence (and more) that may not be appropriate for children. Do you research before you enter the store or ask the comic book staff for help.

Despite what you may think about Comic Book store workers, let me assure you that everyone who has helped me or even my son has been exceptional. They will go out of their way to help you find what your child is looking for. Many comic book stores will even place “kid friendly” comic books in a special section to ease the difficulties of the search. Bottom line…ASK FOR HELP…the workers are really not scary or strange.

Where should you begin? If your child is watching a particular cartoon on TV, start there. Thankfully, my son has become a colossal DC Comics fan. DC Comics has a large variety of kid friendly comics that will keep both younger and older interested. DC Comics also has a great website for kids (http://dckids.kidswb.com/) full of games, videos, and online comics. What is great about this site is that parents can read an issue of a particular comic book to see if it is appropriate for their child before they buy it from the store.

Marvel offers a similar site, although not as impressive. http://marvelkids.marvel.com/ The Marvel site looks more appropriate for older children (8-9+) Marvel offers a smaller kid friendly comic line which includes “adventures” in the title. (Marvel Adventures Spiderman) However, in 2010 Marvel stopped producing most of the line. Some selections are being created again but it seems that DC is the way to go for kids. If your child is a Hulk, Iron Man or Spider Man fan, you may have to do some research and find back issues for comics that are appropriate.

A word of caution on Star Wars comics. Most Star Wars comics, although brilliant in art and quality, are NOT something you want your child to read. As usual, there are some that are acceptable reading material for children 7+ such as “Clone Wars” (Dark Horse Comics issues 1-12), as well as older series based on the movie or Droids. You must really look through Star Wars comics to decide it if it is appropriate. Use your own discretion.

Final advice for buying comic books for your children:
  • Do your research online first
  • Visit the Comic Book store childless for your first visit. Make sure you have a good sense of what is where and what the store is like before bringing a child into it for the first time.
  • Do not assume that all comic books are for children--especially Star Wars comics. Assume that most comics are for Teens/Adults
  • Establish rules with your child before taking them to the comic book store. (No Matthew, we are not buying the $90 Flash statue)
Don’t know the difference between DC and Marvel?
DC                                            Marvel
Batman                                      Spiderman
Superman                                   the Incredible Hulk
Flash                                          Iron Man
Green Lantern                             Fantastic Four
Aqua Man                                   X-Men
Justice League                             Avengers
Young Justice                              Wolverine
Teen Titans                                 Super Hero Squad
DC Comics Young Justice

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