Friday, October 13, 2006

Writing is Hard: Stories for boys (and girls)

Last week I ranted a little about how diverse comics are these days and how frustrating it is that the media still sees a need to keep bringing that up. As sort of a counterpoint to that, here's a recent Wizard interview with cartoonist Kyle Baker about how comics actually aren't enough for kids these days.

"I’ve been in this business since 1983. And when I started, comic books were distributed at candy stores and 7-11s. And you were always told that your audience was children and there were rules that the pictures should tell the story because your audience probably can’t read that well and things like that... At some point, Marvel and DC comic books stopped being for children to the point where I can’t give Wonder Woman to my daughters because there’s too much T&A. I just personally don’t know how to do that stuff. When I did Plastic Man, I said, 'I’m gonna do a kids book.' I’m from the days when DC comic books were for children. So I pretty much expected it to not sell. That’s why I’m working for companies like Disney and Nickelodeon and Scholastic..."

Baker's talking about the actual state of the comic industry in this country and he's dead on. That's what makes it especially aggravating that the general public still sees comics as a kids' medium. Not only do comics include stories for adults these days, they pretty much exclude stories for kids. And that's not only sad; it's stupid.

"I think it’s wonderful that there’s more variety in books and there are things like Dark Knight. I’m a big fan of Alan Moore and all that stuff, but you really do need to have some stuff for kids. And just from an economic standpoint, at the end of the day, kids spend more money on cartoon products. Spongebob makes so much more money than Superman does. They’re really missing the boat. That’s my opinion.

"...Only in DC Comics when you say, 'Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a kids cartoon,' do they look at you like you’re crazy... But these are also the people who can’t sell Scooby Doo comics. If you can’t sell Scooby Doo, you should really quit the business."

This is all interesting to me not only because I love the comics industry and want to see it as healthy as it can be, but also because I'm thinking more and more about my own stuff and whom it's appropriate for.

Right now, for example, we're thinking over some of the language in Robots vs. Monsters and whether or not to tone it down for kids. On the one hand, you want to be true to your story. Chances are, if someone comes face to face with a giant freakin' monster that's crushing fighter planes left and right, that person's response isn't going to be, "Holy Mackerel!" It's going to be a bit stronger than that. On the other hand, maybe it's worth replacing the stronger word with something like "$#!%" so that we enlarge our potential audience. I mean, kids would like a comic about giant robots and giant monsters beating the snot out of each other, wouldn't they?

1 comment:

JoeKinski said...

Can I just say that I loved Baker's Plastic Man ... and that it worked on both levels ... as a book for kids and as an adult book. But then ... I also think Kyle Baker can do no wrong...


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