Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly survey of your noble Robot 6 bloggers’ most recent reading. This week, our special guest is Jason Thompson, author of Manga: The Complete Guide and The King of RPGs. Jason just wrapped up a year of giving away his surplus manga at Suvudu.com, an experience he wrote about at his Livejournal.
Michael May: Graphic Universe has a series called “History’s Kid Heroes” that I’ve been checking out. So far I’ve read The Snowshoeing Adventure of Milton Daub, Blizzard Trekker and The Stormy Adventure of Abbie Burgess, Lighthouse Keeper. They’re short, quick reads – about 30 pages – and exactly the kind of thing I would’ve checked out from the library as a kid. Each one tells the story of an adventurous experience in the life of a real, historical child.
We’ve been talking about comics for kids a lot lately in this column. I want to continue that conversation this week, but from a different angle. Let’s face it, we’ll never all agree about whether Marvel and DC superhero comics should be focused primarily on children or grown ups or if both, in what ratio. A lot of things complicate that discussion, including the origin of superheroes as children’s literature and the varying levels of nostalgia that grown-up fans attach to that.
But what if we flip that coin over? What if we take something with origins in grown-up literature and make it for kids? Does that change the arguments? Do characters created for one demographic always have to be written with that demographic in mind? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s true for superheroes and I don’t think it’s true for Sherlock Holmes who’s the focus of Graphic Universe’s new series On the Case with Holmes and Watson.
To be sure, Sherlock Holmes isn’t the most dramatic example of a “mature audiences” character being used for a kids’ series. He’s not exactly Ripley from Alien or Ash from Evil Dead. But he’s also not standard reading for 4th to 6th graders, the target audience for the On the Case series. And if Holmes can be rewritten for 9-year-olds, why can’t Superman be rewritten for 39-year-olds? The question shouldn’t be whether or not it can be done though. I predict that we’ll read few if any comments advocating that Holmes is a grown-up character and that he shouldn’t be adapted for children. What we need to be figuring out is how to tell the story so well that neither group feels unwanted.