finding comics for kids

13 May 2009
Children's Book Week

Sandman and a fifth of Jack are the only appealing things I ever found in a guy’s dorm room. That was 15 years ago, and I haven’t discovered a comic book that’s grabbed me since.

Now I’m in the position of trying to find intelligent comic books that work for a young child and aren’t utterly boring to a grown literature lover. It’s the early childhood version of seeking out Sandman, and serendipity isn’t serving me this time.

Despite the tractor beam that draws any comic in the vicinity into Meg’s grasp, ost of her finds are adult-oriented. Though she has adopted her mom’s Death and Delirium dolls (imagine: muppet-baby-style wide-eyed goth-chick Death and pretty punk Delirium in a 4-year-old’s sling — that’s cognitive dissonance right there), she hasn’t found the Sandman series yet. She has discovered all of her dad’s comic strip collections, though, and they’re only moderately more age appropriate. His tastes run toward clever 80s-90s favorites like The Far Side, Dilbert, Bloom County, and Calvin and Hobbes. One thing those strips have in common is wit, and that’s exactly the reason I can hardly bear to read them to the girl. It’s hard enough to encourage her learn the medium by matching the written with the drawn elements of the story. Add to that the need to explain every joke, and it’s a bit of slog.

I discussed the situation with my friend Bill, who draws the library- and book-focused Unshelved strip, and he thought Meg might just be too young, but suggested Owly (here’s the Unshelved Book Club’s presentation of Owly). Given her driving interest, which I can’t imagine is unique in the realm of little kids, I’d like to identify additional candidates.

What comic books or comic strips do you think might entertain a 4-year-old and her possibly overly picky mom?

11 Responses to “finding comics for kids”

  1. 1 Your Librarian Friend Who Loves Comics
    May 13th, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    We have stacks you can borrow, wonderful for the preschool set. No joke (or jokes). We found a wonderful source up in Canada.

    Did you ever read Persepolis? (not for little kids, for you)

  2. 2 Jenni
    May 13th, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks Lora, I’d love to take you up on this.

    I haven’t yet read Persepolis, but it’s on my list

  3. 3 Tera
    May 13th, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    We have enjoyed The Good Times Travel Agency books (which I understand are not true graphic novels, but my kids LOVE it’s comic booky feel). We also read To Dance, which they loved…and some other classics like Garfield….I have a couple of Magna Shakespeare books and Daisy has read at least one of them but I haven’t previewed them yet. She is getting through books before I have to chance to check them out sometimes, which is not optimal from my perspective. Also Baby Mouse….

  4. 4 Jenni
    May 13th, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Thanks Tera. I started looking for these, but wasn’t able to find Baby Mouse. Would you be willing to share a link?

  5. 5 AB
    May 14th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    My kids loved Tintin when they were 4 (still do) but some moms object to the regular appearance of guns and thugs and racism. My daughter liked Baby Blues, which I found cloying, but at least I figured out the mental age of the intended audience of that unbearable strip. Happily, she was able to struggle through and read it to herself so I didn’t have to read it aloud. I was glad when she graduated to Calvin and Hobbes.

  6. 6 Danielle Schmidt
    May 14th, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I think the most positive books out there right now are written by robert kirkman. He writes “invincable”, a story about a boy who got super powers from his dad. He also writes my favorite,the walking dead, but that may be too graphic for most moms. It’s a wonderful and positive read, though.
    Also, “the flash” is superb and very positive.

  7. 7 Shannon
    May 16th, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    My husband is reading Tin Tin to our son. I’m ambivalent about it for the aforementioned reasons, but he is loving it and I tend not to shelter him much. I just see that sort of thing as a talking point. They are on the third volume and his favorite character is Tin Tin’s dog.

  8. 8 that other librarian friend
    May 17th, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Ladybug magazine has a few regular comic strips in it. Also there are some picture books that have a comic strip style. Dex or Superdog : the heart of a hero by Caralyn has that look and feel and is also very readable. I think James Stevenson sometimes uses a comic strip style as does Susan Meddaugh in her books about the dog Martha. I find this style harder to read because I find myself pointing to the pictures and saying, “here they are saying …” I wonder if it is more a style for readers rather than non. But I’m also a believer in meet them where there interest is. So if your daughter asks for it, check them out. p.s. I’d be interested in the library that has stacks of preschool comics. I’d like to go check them out or get the names.

  9. 9 Jenni
    May 20th, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    It’s the librarian, rather than library, with the stacks of preschool comics, alas. I’ll see if she’ll post titles.

  10. 10 Your Librarian Friend
    May 20th, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Babymouse: http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/babymouse/

    Comics: Classics Illustrate Junior http://www.amazon.com/Classics-Illustrated-Junior/dp/B00009WBW6

    Super cool 50s comics. Your parents will probably know about them.

  11. 11 Your Librarian Friend
    May 20th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    And it is a PIA to get those Classics Illustrated Juniors in the U.S., but they’re easy to get in Canada.