Friday, February 27, 2015

The neglected audience

When I discovered comic books (many moons ago), I was immediately taken with the format: interesting, dynamic pictures combined with text that told fantastic stories. Rereading some of the comics I first bought back then (now snug in mylar and hidden away in dusty longboxes) I'm struck at the deft skill of creators who were able to create all-ages material.

'All-ages' doesn't mean juvenile, or aimed squarely at kids. What I'm talking about is a story that a younger reader can enjoy at face value; older readers in turn can appreciate subtle nuances crafted into the text and/or art (of a more sophisticated nature). For example, buying Wolfman and Perez's New Teen Titans from a spinner rack, I had a blast with the adventure and cool characters; now, I admire the deft character interplay, and 'mature' themes hinted at in the script and lush art.

This ultimately makes the comic reading experience a deep and rewarding one.  

I find that comics today have lost this simple skill. Most books on the stand are targeted squarely at an older demographic, with graphic portrayals of violence and 'reality' (the supreme irony is that super-heroes are grounded in pure fantasy, and desperately applying the 'real world' to them usually results in an awkward mess). I can't find many books I'd introduce to my kids; even the ones specifically maketed to younger readers are usually lisenced material with uninspired, cookie-cutter stories and artwork seeming traced from episode storyboards.

When I grew up from super-hero comics, I wondered about creating my own. Over the years, many concepts popped into my head, inspired by my fond memories of the bombastic comics I enjoyed as a kid. One of my favorites is Lil' Ninja, my current Kickstarter project.

Inspired by the antics of my own daughter as a toddler, Lily defends her crib against wacky villains using her mysterious ninja skills. The concept is fun, vibrant with color and joy, 'counter-programming' to the dour, depressing fare comic book readers are given monthly. My hope is that my idea sparks enough interest to allow me to continue Lily's adventures; my desire to create comics springs from a well of genuine love of this unique medium, and it saddens me to see the sad state of the industry today.

Please take a moment to check out my Kickstarter, and if you like it, please spread the word. I think there's plenty of room for all-ages books on todays cluttered stands, and I'm extremely proud of the quality of mine.

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