It's time for another installment of The Q, where Newsarama asks one question of several creators and professionals, combining their answers to spur a discussion of issues and topics about the comic book industry.
This month, we turn our attention toward the concern that many comic book fans have about guiding the next generation of comic book readers. As so many of us see other media generating interest in superheroes among kids, we decided to ask a few industry representatives just how best to nurture that interest.
Q: If a 10-year-old likes superheroes, liked the Iron Man movie, and likes the Justice League cartoons, where does he go next to cultivate his fandom?
Mike Carey (X-Men: Legacy, The Unwritten, Ender's Shadow): Both DC and Marvel do superhero books consciously aimed at a younger audience now, but since nobody enjoys being "targeted," I think a 10-year-old superhero fan could have a lot of fun going back to the great superhero stories of the '60s and early '70s, as recaptured in Marvel Essentials and DC Showcase editions. There's some wild and wonderful stuff in there, and most of it is totally accessible to a young reader.
I'd also send them to Jeff Smith's Bone saga, as a point of principle, even though it doesn't have superheroes in it...
Shane Davis (JLA, Rage of the Red Lanterns): Hopefully his or her next place to turn to are comic books. I think both DC and Marvel make it possible for young readers to jump in. Like the Johnny DC line. I would also like to think kids are more likely to turn to trades that are already collected. That the industry is at a good time where new readers can go through mountains of continuity through trades. Parents should look up their nearest comic book shop, bring in their kids to pick out something they would like. Also, comic cons are fun and interesting events that parents can take their kids to.
Charles Dixon (G.I. Joe): His local library.
Joshua Williamson (Overlook, Dear Dracula): When I was that age and going to see the superhero movies, the first thing I did was go to comic book store next door to the theater because they had a deal where if we brought in our tickets stubs we got a free dollar comic. That was a big factor in getting me hooked as a fan of comics.
Nowadays I'd imagine they go online and Google the movie or character they like. It really all depends on the parents, if they take them to the stores, or show comic sites online, but I bet online is winning out right now.
Marc Guggenheim (Amazing Spider-Man, Resurrection): Wouldn't it be nice if he -- or, let's be optimistic, she -- went into a comic book store and picked up an actual comic? Or a trade at his -- optimistically, her -- local bookstore?
Jim Valentino (Publisher, Shadowline): When I was ten (six or seven thousand years ago) comics were ubiquitous. They were in the super-market, the Rx, train stations, bus stops, virtually everywhere!
Unfortunately, a ten year old today is going to have to work a little harder to find them. With that in mind, the first obvious answer is "the web!"
All he really has to do is Google in his favorite character's name. That will bring up not only the publisher's home page (most of which have Diamond's Comic Shop Locator service on them) and, if he's not lucky enough to live in a city with a well stocked comic store, he can find them at most national book chains, Amazon or (groan) eBay. But, as noted at the top, it's going to take some effort on the kid's part.
Eric Trautmann (Checkmate, JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith): Ideally, the local comic store - preferably a well-run, well-stocked, kid-friendly comic store. There's several good mainstream capes-and-cowls books on the market (the Johnny DC and Marvel Adventures line, specifically); I'd hope that, as the young reader finds more stories of interest, that interest would translate to longer works (at my wife's store, we have great success getting kids interested in comics by handing them copies of Bone) and eventually into a lifetime fondness for the medium.
So, in the case of the young reader who likes Iron Man and Justice League, I'd be eager to put Marvel Adventures titles in his hand, especially the work Fred Van Lente did on the line.