Monday, January 11, 2016

Navigating comics for kids

Back in September of 2015 I started working for a new comic book and game store in Elkhart, In. Secret Door Games is a great small shop that offers comics, a wide verity of board games, trading card games, and role-playing games, books and toys. Before starting work here I read most of my comics in graphic novel format. Which meant that I read them much later than when they first were published. Now I can follow a handful of series as they come out. :) Good for me. Good for the store. My kids too before would check out graphic novels at the library, and still do to be honest. The library was and is great. I know that books in the kids section are safe for them to read. Graphic novels in the teen section I thumb through before allowing them to check out. And only I read graphic novels from the adult section.

Now that we have access to single issue comics the boys naturally want to read what they see in the shop. That's all great, but navigating what is appropriate for them (age 6,7 &9) is a bit of a challenge. So here's what I've learned and things to keep in mind when looking  to buy comics for kids.

Know your comic book publishers, their websites and their rating systems (if they have one). As you probably know the two big publishers for superhero comics are DC and Marvel. Each one of these have their own rating system. Knowing what their system is will help you figure out if you are okay with your kids reading certain story lines. To find their rating system visit  for DC and for Marvel
Both DC and Marvel have a kids websites (click the name for the link) Visiting those and seeing what comics are advertised or offered there can be helpful.

For my boys, I feel safe letting them read Marvel comics rated T or All Ages. Anything else I have to read first and most times I just say they have to wait till they are older.  Current favorite is The Totally Awesome Hulk and Avengers Assemble Season 2.  DC I'm only okay with them reading E rated comics. My frustration is that there are not alot to choose from and I find that the art in DC is more gory than I think necessary in the T and T+ comics. But that's a rant for another time.

Sadly IDW doesn't have a rating system. While they have great titles for kids including Classic Disney lines such as Micky Mouse and Donald Duck, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and My Little Pony, the only way to know if they are appropriate for your kids is to pick them up and read them. Basic illustrations can give you a clue though. There are several TMNT story lines and the cover illustration often foreshadows how dark the story line is.  But the only true way to know is leaf through it. Some of my boys favorites are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Amazing Adventures, and Angry Birds.

I love Dark Horse and Image comics, but most of their story lines are not suitable for kids. I cannot speak for teenagers though. That I'll leave up to the parents of teenagers. Although as a scary thought I'll be there soon. ;)

There is a website that can be very helpful. Kids Comics has lots of great links, games and previews for kids. This is a great way to see some of the kids titles out there and who publishes them.
Don't be afriad to talk to the friendly staff at your local comic book store. They will have knowledge of many of the comic lines they offer and can give you some detail about story line, violence and such. Be sure to express what you are looking for, and what you are trying to avoid.

Comic books are not only fun for kids and adults alike, they are a great way to get kids, especially boys, to read. Just check out this great article from  We here at the Earthmama household are quickly growing our comic book collection and loving it.

Let the comics abound!!

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