I am sick and tired of throwing kids into the ghetto.
I still work in a comic shop about one day a week and not a day goes by where some parent goes, "Hey, what comics are good for kids?"
In my heart, I wanna scream, "Fucking all of them! They have words and pictures. Art. Everybody wins!" But, in my actuality, I know what they're asking and with that I lead them and their kids to "our li'l kids comics ghetto," where Archie's still acting like a dick and where as an adult, I sympathize with Reggie Mantle a little more every damned day.
Every Wednesday my heart breaks a little more, knowing the question before it is asked and my knowing the answer that must be given, dreading the the adult squeal of, "Oh my God, they still make Archie!" The young look around with the sadness only a child can feel as men and women in tight spandex fly about their heads, villains shake their fists, men in camo smoke cigarettes, hurl grenades and kiss broads dead on the mouth.
"Look, honey! It's Archie! I used to read this. Here, let's get you a few."
And I see it. The look a child gets when in a candy store and his mom wants to know where the carob-covered raisins are.
It breaks my heart every damned time.
What the f... Give the babies what they want! The babies want teeth. The babies want something they can sink their teeth into and we can't give it to them and the comics companies know this too damned well. So what they offer are ridiculous comics with no teeth that never dare the potential comics fan to come back and have their brains blown.
The term, "Comics! They aren't just for kids anymore," has never been truer. The comics offered to kids are more for the parents than for the kids. They are boring. They are inoffensive. They are uninspiring and from a creative standpoint, DOA.
And this is what I sell to the children.
Marvel Adventures: Marvel Comics without teeth.
Sonic The Hedgehog: Safe video games re-enacted on bad paper stock.
Archie: A comic wherein Reggie Mantle, the only person who realizes something's wrong is made to look like an a-hole.
There are exceptions: I would not hesitate to give a child Tiny Titans. It's clever and has artwork that looks like it was done by a child and I mean that as a compliment and really that's about it.
And yes, there is Bone but Bone did not become a children's favorite until an actual book company colored it up and rescued it from our appointed comics ghettos.
Full disclosure: I don't have any kids.
Who the hell am I to tell you what's good for your kids but as a former kid, I know what I liked. I liked capes. I am wearing one right now. As an adult, I love shaking my fist at things to emphasize my contempt. As an adult, I have hurled M-80's and secretly dreamt of kissing Halle Berry dead on her sweet, sweet lips every time.
The comics I read have made this possible. The Teen Titans issues where Deathstroke did that thing with the bucktoothed kid helped me realize what a true villain looks like.
He wears an eyepatch. Like a pirate.
I wanted to join the military, in part, because of my love for Sgt. Rock, Captain America and G.I. Joe. When I found out, there were no laser rifles in this man's Army, my enthusiasm waned, not my patriotism.
What I'm saying is this: Comics should be clever. Comics should inspire. Comics should spark imagination. Comics have this power. Comics should leave the intended wanting more.
Toady's comics don't do this. They are safe. THEY ARE DESIGNED WITH ADULTS IN MIND.
Better yet, they aren't for kids, at all, THEY ARE FOR THE PARENTS OF CHILDREN.
Am I saying hand your kids Angry Youth Comix and hope for the best? No, what I am saying is that we should never, ever underestimate a child's capacity to figure it out for themselves, to figure out exactly what is right and what is wrong. Parental guidance is suggested but exists even when you're not there. I knew what was GOOD. Kids are remarkably brilliant in their capacity to just be kids. Did I know that thing Deathstroke was doing was that WRONG? Of course not. I was a kid. If you raise a good kid, there aren't enough Deathstrokes in the universe to undo what you've done as a parent.
My mother, even as a Christian woman, knew this. My simple hope that when my time comes, I'll be as strong and as clever and as good a parent as she.