Michael Breakfield of Lone Star Comics in Arlington, Texas read the recent article about the children’s graphic novel collection at the Alameda Free Library (see "Kids Graphic Novels") and had this to say:
This was a nice column. There is plenty of All Ages material available for comic fans. The Industry gets a bad wrap sometimes, but they do try to provide something for everyone. I even wrote about this in a recent column
I did for our weekly email here at Lone Star Comics. Instead of standing on my soap box and pointing a finger at the Comic Giants, pointing out all the things they don't have. I decided to take a different route and point out some of the wonderful All Ages comics and graphic novels they do.
Main stream comics, for the last two decades or so, seemed to be careening toward the darker side. Batman did not trust his teammates, and with good reason (see Identity Crisis and JLA "Crisis of Conscience!"). Gun-toting, judge, jury, and executioner anti-heroes like the Punisher, Cable, and Deadpool have become some of the most popular characters in comics. The criminals began to take the spotlight off the heroes. Bad guys like Bullseye, Irredeemable, Solomon Grundy, the Hood, and the Secret Six run wild and free leaving naught but death and destruction in their wake and seemingly never have to answer for it. For crying out loud, Norman Osborne, the freaking Green Goblin, is the most powerful man in the Marvel Universe (see Dark Reign).
In recent years it has become apparently clear that Old School comic collectors and a lot of the public in general have been troubled by the lack of All Ages material in the market. It just seemed like back in the Comics Code era that parents could buy a copy of Spider-Man for their child and not worry about whether he would be exposed to over-the-top language and/or thinly veiled sexual innuendo. Even I spoke out about the subject matter (see "Michael Breakfield of Lone Star Comics on '@#$%'"). I've read numerous blogs and columns on line and in magazines and there is a growing trend. Readers want All Ages comics that can not only be read and enjoyed by a younger audience (i.e. a larger audience), but comics that don't talk down to the reader and are every bit as entertaining and fun to read as titles aimed at an older audience.
Well, it seems that the industry has heard the criticism and responded. Here is a list of All Ages books of high quality that can be enjoyed by comic fans of any age.
Tiny Titans -- Thrill to the elementary school adventures of the next generation of super heroes! The Tiny Titans at Sidekick City Elementary know they're in trouble when they meet the new principal and teacher - Mr. Slade and Mr. Trigon. It's All-Ages fun in the tradition of the Looney Tunes. Then fast forward a few years and enjoy Teen Titans: Year One! With amazing art and dead on characterization this is a must read for any Titans fan. Get ready as Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, and Speedy step out of the shadows of their mentors and prove their mettle in a world of grownups.
Super Hero Squad -- Sure, I grew up with the Super Friends and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but this generation of kids gets to enjoy the thrilling adventures of the most awesome assemblage of heroes ever to grace a cartoon. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Wolverine, Falcon, the Silver Surfer, Ms. Marvel, and more join together to stop the diabolical forces of Doctor Doom and M.O.D.O.K. and their never-ending quest for the Infinity Shards! It's epic, it's fun, and, most importantly, it can be enjoyed by all.
Disney's Hero Squad: Ultraheroes -- Can Super Goof, Duck Avenger, Eega Beeva, and Red Bat keep Ducksberg's richest duck from being put in the poor house? When Scrooge McDuck's money bin comes under attack by a diabolical team of the world's most notorious super villains, it falls to the brave members of the Hero Squad to save the day.
Power Pack Team-Ups -- In the grand tradition of Marvel Team-Up the super-powered siblings of Power Pack go on a whirlwind world tour and team-up with the brightest and best Marvel Comics has to offer. It features amazing adventures with the Uncanny X-Men, the Mighty Avengers, the Spectacular Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and the Invincible Iron Man, and before all is said and done the Power Kids just may show the adults a thing or two about super-heroing.
Wizards of Mickey -- The Wizard's apprentice, Mickey Mouse, has lost a powerful magic charm. Now Mickey must assemble his team and set out to find the missing talisman before his master finds out. But when his partners are Donald Duck and Goofy, this is a feat he'll find easier said than done. It's medieval action/adventure, Disney style!
Muppet Show -- The gang's all here! Kermit the Frog, Ms. Piggy, Grover, and the rest tackle some of the greatest tales in history. The Muppets take on Robin Hood. Kermit has his hands full when everyone discovers that the Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson is hidden somewhere within the theater. Plus, don't miss the classic tale of Peter Pan, Muppet Style. The Muppets are an entertaining troupe of characters that holds up and can be enjoyed by kids of any generation.
Super Friends -- I believe the classic television intro says it best:
"In the great hall of the Justice League there are assembled the world's four greatest heroes. Created from the cosmic legends of the universe. Superman... Wonder Woman... Batman... Aquaman... And those three junior Super Friends, Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog. Their mission -- to fight injustice, to right that which is wrong, and to serve all mankind!"
Follow the adventure of the World's Greatest Super Heroes as they assemble to combat those forces for no good that no single hero can stand against.
Star Comics -- In the eighties Marvel released an All Ages line of comics called Star Comics. These wonderful gems feature the adventures, and misadventures, of the best cast of cartoon characters since the Looney Tunes. Now these stories have been collected for a whole new generation to enjoy. These collections feature the sci/fi adventures of Planet Terry, the thrilling spy adventures of the talking canine Top Dog, the fantasy mishaps of Wally the Wizard, and the globetrotting exploits of the Richie Rich inspired Royal Roy.
World of Cars -- Jumping off the Big Screen and into your hands comes the wonderful world of Cars. Learn how Lightning McQueen became a Piston Cup sensation in "The Rookie" and learn all about McQueen's pals in the revealing tale "Radiator Springs."
Batman: The Brave and the Bold -- The Caped Crusader joins forces with the likes of Green Arrow, Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, Aquaman and more to protect the world against the sinister plots of The Time Lord and the Queen of Fables! These Bat-Tales are less broody than their mainstream counterparts and do a great job of promoting teamwork.
The Incredibles -- The Incredibles are a premiere family of super heroes and they fight to protect the innocent citizens of Metroville against the evil machinations of the likes of Syndrome and the Underminer! Comic fans will be amazed as the super strong Mr. Incredible, the stretchy heroine Elastigirl, the super fast and mischievous Dash, and the invisible abilities of Violet Parr come together to solve mysteries (as in "City of Incredibles!") or deal with power loss (as in "Family Matters!").
Stan Lee once said that he never wrote his stories for children. But he also never wrote his stories in a way that would exclude them from enjoying all the joys and fun that come from reading comic books. Comic books are an important medium and cannot survive if the next generation of readers is excluded from all the fun. I am happy to see the industry step up and answer the challenge by making these wonderful titles that are accessible to comic fans of All Ages.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
'List of All Ages Books of High Quality'
March 18 2010 @ 12:14 am CT
MORE TALK BACK
'It goes far beyond product categories'
February 19, 2015
Greg Leeds saw Scott Thorne’s recent ICv2 column reflecting on trends in the hobby gaming industry for the last 25 years, and offered an additional perspective.
'I wouldn't do anything else.'
February 11, 2015
Ralph DiBernardo of Jetpack Comics in Rochester, New Hampshire shares the trials and tribulations of a New England area comic shop during a very snowy winter.
Fantagraphics' Guigo Crepax Set
March 4, 2015
Fantagraphics Books has announced a 10-book series collecting the comics of Italian maestro Guido Crepax, beginning in November with Crepax: Dracula, Frankenstein, and Other Horror Stories.