All Ages

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Playing a bit of catch-up

We now return to your regularly scheduled blog about kids comics. Sorry about that folks -- was buried under a mound of work and been on vacation all this week. Recharging the body, mind and soul.

HARDY BOYS AND NANCY DREW -- A little late on this one but better late than never. Everyone and their eccentric aunt had something to say about NBM's new Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew graphic novels.

Someone in the comments section of Graham's blog had commented on why the publisher here is banking on the fact that HB and ND are such "popular established characters" and why there's such an obsession to allign them with graphic novels rather than creating new material. Sure we've been a huge resurgence of 80s properties being revived in the children's market but for the most part they've all been quite soft in terms of sales. This just seems to go against everything that Michael Chabon said in his call-to-arms speech about kids comics. We don't need more more licensed characters -- we need the efforts made in building that core list of great children's graphic novels. If you look at the breakout hits over the past 2 or 3 years most of them are wholly original. If you look at something like A Series of Unfortunate Events or Artemis Fowl or the popular Gossip Girl series. All original and not originating from media.

There definitely is a nostaliga factor in that HB and ND have going for it but the kind of nostalgia that seems to be working in kids publishing are the 'feel-good' properties, not in reimagined forms but in classic reprints like Dick and Jane. They seems to lean heavily in that classic 40's back when life was simpler or even an inspriational sense. I'm not sure if HB or ND falls in that highly popular inspirational category.

ABAZADAD -- Since the fall of CrossGen a good number of their creator-owned titles have been sitting in legal limbo. One of these such titles was ABAZADAD, a touted all ages, high fantasy comic in the vein of Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The creators, JM DeMatties and Michael Ploog are now taking CrossGen to court to revert the rights solely back to the creators.

I read one issue to see what all the online clamour was about and found some of the most common no-no's in creating kids comics. The issue was incredibly dense with text, the artwork was gorgeous yet confusing and the panel layouts hard to follow. Of course adult comics fans loved this book -- it was completely different and more slick than anything on the stands, it taps into a childhood love of fantasy and it's in direct opposition to most of the 'decompressed' comics of today. This is definitely more of the kinds of material that we should be seeing from publishers to build that afformentioned canon of kids comics, but here the work is so impenetrable I have doubts that your typical a 9 year old non-comics reader would continue to read this. Perhaps DeMatties and Ploog are creating comics for a highly literate teenager here. I just don't think it's the best place to start.


  • I read all three issues of Abadazad, and to me it seemed to be a comic for adults who fondly remember the other-land fantasies from when they were kids, not necessarily a comic for today's kids.

    By Blogger Dave, at 11:04 AM  

  • For my review of the Gossip Girl novels, see here

    By Blogger AUF, at 1:39 PM  

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