All Ages

Monday, August 22, 2005

Erik Larsen on kids comics

From his current column over at CBR:

Many companies make an attempt to publish comics for kids. Most don’t pull it off. My kids could not care less about most of the comics, which are, allegedly, aimed at them. Big winners around my house include DC’s "Plastic Man" by Kyle Baker (and the "Plastic Man Archives" by Jack Cole) and Bongo’s "The Simpsons," which is, quite possibly, the most faithful translation of a cartoon to comic book ever.

Other favorites include "Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth," "Tin Tin," "Captain Marvel Adventures" and nearly everything Lee & Kirby did together.

Why do I get the feeling he's automatically defaulting to Marvel and DC here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

MAD Kids

For some weird reason it totally slipped my mind to comment on MAD's recent magazine expansion to include a new MAD magazine for 8 to 12-year olds.

I think it's a great idea but one issue that has been brought up is whether or not there's a need for a MAD book specifically geared to kids. Popular opinion suggests that the regular MAD book already appeals to this demographic even though its original audience was likely older teens or even adults. Licensed properties that have been around for decades tend to have a trickle-down effect in their target audience. The best example of this trend is Barbie who at one time appealed to 12-year old girls but as the toy market demands shifted, Barbie's main audience has slowly moved to 6-year olds.

MAD occupies a weird demographic space where there is a great deal in the magazine that is clearly for an adult audience but the demand from a younger audience is definitely there. Scholastic in conjunction with MAD created a book called The MAD Student Survival Guide and it did very well on book clubs. Hoping to follow-up on its success, I worked with MAD on two other books, The MAD Summer Survival Guide and The MAD Holiday Survival Guide and both performed well in the school market.

But this weird disjoint between audience and content made it a bit of a challenge to find suitable content to fill these mini-anthologies. Political satire goes over a 10-year old's head and sexual innuendo isn't something a teacher or parent wants their kids to read.

MAD KIDS will consist of old material, as well as new original comics. It will be interesting to see, with the new material, to what degree of irreverence the magazine will aim for in today's more extreme market. I'm expecting a lot of bodily function humor since it seems to be a popular topic for kids these days but I'm curious as to what other areas MAD will explore.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vote for Bone

BONE: The One Volume Edition by Jeff Smith has been shortlisted in the Graphic Novel category for a Quill Award. The Quills are a new consumer driven National Book Award created by Reed publishing and NBC Universal.

Also of note, Jon J. Muth has also been nominated in the Children's - Illustrated category for his amazing picture book ZEN SHORTS.

Check out to vote.

GRAPHIX - the next wave

Scholastic's David Saylor was interviewed over at Newsarama yesterday to talk about the schedule for all the upcoming books in the Graphix imprint.

Here's a quick run-down on the confirmed titles:
Bone Vol 1 and 2, along with Queen Bee should be available now

Bone Vol 3 Eyes of the Storm - February 2006
The Babysitters Club Vol 1 - April 2006
Breaking Up: A Fashion High Graphic Novel - July 2006
Bone Vol 4 The Dragonslayer - August 2006
Goosebumps: Creepy Creatures - October 2006

2007 will see more Bone, Queen Bee, Babysitters Club, Goosebumps and also Amulet and The Woodland Chronicles.

The one confirmed announcement I'm just over the moon about is confirmation that Michael Kaluta will be illustrating the graphic novel adaptation of THE LAST UNICORN. Charles Vess is the natural choice here but I think Kaluta is going to bring a more loose, quirky style to the project.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Comics - normalize it for kids!

Thought I'd share this with you guys -- at Book Expo America in June, I picked up a small promo pamphlet for Candlewick's new kids book series called STINK, written by Megan McDonald. STINK is the younger brother of JUDY MOODY, another series that McDonald writes.

The pamphlet here (also downloadable off of the Judy Moody website) is essentially how-to- guide in making your own comics. McDonald, who is a comics fan and a big supporter of Jimmy Gownley's AMELIA RULES, represents the latest way of introducing kids to comics -- she's a comics mole. Jeff Smith explained this concept to me this year in San Diego -- there are now vocal comics fans hiding in every industry waiting to promote the medium in their field -- from magazine columnists to movie producers and librarians to booksellers. McDonald along with others like Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants), Mo Willems (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) and Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man) represent the growing number children's book creators who are making comics a part of their stories. In a sense they are reminding kids about comics again but in an entirely non-stigmatized sort of way. I've always said that kids don't like comics, they just forgot about them. McDonald and even Pilkey in this case are not only putting comics in front of kids faces again but they are both encouraging them to create their own. This is not only the start of a brand new generation of comics readers, but creators also -- it's almost the birth of a North American dojinshi culture.

Expect a lot more moles to pop up in the children's book industry as comics creators make periodic jumps into children's books. Sara Varon (Sweaterweather) has a kid's book coming out from Scholastic in the Spring called CHICKEN AND CAT. Both Rainy Dohaney (also known to most comics fans as Renee French) and Dave Cooper both have new books just over the publishing horizon.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bits from around the web

Just got back from the dentist (TWO FILLINGS argh) and my entire face is pretty much frozen. Not fun. I thought I'd catch up on my linking today since it's a lazy Friday. Totally off-blog topic, while I was waiting to go in, I was flipping through People magazine and saw an ad for Zoloft that used comics to market it...this was a comic with two talking Zoloft tablets. I bet Brian Michael Bendis ghost wrote it. Anyways...onto link blogging:

SONIC X, the comic book based on the popular video game character gets a 6-page preview here. SONIC X seems to be getting a pretty big marketing push everywhere with the release of book-related material from Penguin. Expect to see more publishers hop on this bandwagon to find the next big licensed property.

More BIONICLE related promotion with DC Comics and Sports Illustrated For Kids here. Not sure how BIONICLE is still doing in the market. There's definitely been less buzz about it in the past year.

Ben Avery returns to the all-ages, fairy tale adventure book LULLABY in an ongoing series from Alias this September. Featuring 4 variant covers for the first issue, one of the covers displays a female character with quite large breasts. Apparently I wasn't the only one who spotted this anomaly for an all-ages book, a Newsarama poster remarked "Her boobs are too big....."

ZATCH BELL has been picked up by Viz to produce both the manga and the anime of this popular Japanese property. Apparently this is THE NEXT BIG THING. But then again that's what everyone said about DUEL MASTERS and look at what a mess that was...

SLG will release a trade paperback of the collected stories of JET PACK PETS, originally serialized in Disney Adventures magazine, in September. I've never read the strip myself but the artwork looks pretty damn cute from the cover image up at Newsarama.

My pal J Torres is releasing a second volume of ALISON DARE LITTLE MISS ADVENTURES from Oni Press. Full of humor and great high adventure, Alison Dare is a great book for kids. Definitely worth a look.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Kazu Kibuishi's AMULET

Remember this from one of my New York City posts?

...sat in on a meeting with an extremely talented creator and his agent who pitched an amazing book for Graphix -- if it's signed it will be an excellent addition to our line.

Yup, that was Kazu Kibuishi and his amazing two book series called AMULET.

I knew instantly after seeing preview images (one seen above) at TCAF and hearing Kazu talk about the plot, that this project would be a perfect fit for Graphix. And after reading his other work, DAISY KUTTER, it became clear that Kazu is a creator with a unique depth and precision in storytelling. His action sequences have a clarity and impact that very few have in this industry. I’m confident AMULET will have this same quality.

From the press release: “In Amulet, main characters Em and Navin’s mother has recently died, and their father has just moved them to a strange, hilltop house. After their father disappears suddenly, the kids find a door that leads into a stunning labyrinth filled with strange creatures and hints of a vast, new world at the end of it. As they search for their father in the maze, they join forces with a small rabbit, Miskit, who is also searching for a lost loved one.”

I had a chance to chance to speak to Kazu about his thoughts on the process of creating and developing AMULET for kids:

S: What do you think are the key elements in creating a great graphic novel for children?

K: I'd imagine they would be the same elements that make a great graphic novel for adults, but marked with an appropriateness for children. A good, fun story, great visuals, and nice design go a long way.

S: What aspects of Amulet do you think kids will gravitate towards and enjoy the most?

K: The monsters and robots will definitely be the major draw at first, but after the kids have had their fill of the eye candy, they'll be reading the book to see what happens to Navin and Emily, or any of the other characters. If I do my job correctly, we'll all be caring very much about these kids and hope that their journey ends well.

S: What advice would you give to the general non-comics reading public about the value of graphic novels for kids?

K: Communicating a story through pictures is one of the most universal ways to communicate an idea with an artist's original vision intact. The more people we have in this world that can communicate through pictures, the better we'll be able to understand each other. Thankfully, kids usually count drawing as one of their favorite activities.

AMULET Book 1 will hit bookstores and comic shops in Spring 2007.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jay Stephens is online

Jay Stephens, creator of the kid-friendly comic JETCAT CLUBHOUSE and the Emmy award-winning TUTENSTEIN cartoon has a brand-new webcomics site featuring a whole slew of great stuff.

Jay's wondefully irreverent sense of humor just shines through this stuff. Included here are NATURE SHOW (think Happy Bunny, but just a bit more harsh), NOD (which have never been reprinted entirely before) and the weekly WELCOME TO...ODDVILLE (probably the strip that exemplifies Stephens' body of work).

Also included are links to Jay's site where you can buy books, t-shirts and other goodies. Definitely worth checking out.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Email crash

For some weird reason Yahoo decided to block me from my main email account -- which means that is no longer functioning. This also means that I've lost tons of archived email and contacts. If you're reading this blog and have contacted me in the past could you send a quick email to so I can update my address book?

AUBRI -- unfortunately this includes the script pages you sent last week. Could you resend to the email address above?