Saturday, January 12, 2013

A comic agenda

I remember as a child waiting for my brothers to come home with their latest acquisition of The Phantom or 2000 AD. As soon as they finished, I'd pounce and devour the contents with glee. As I grew older I started getting into the more mainstream Marvel comics and now have branched out into the independents, discovering the greats such as Preacher, Fallen Angel and Saga to name just a few.

Now that I am a mother, I want to share this great love of mine with my children. I started reading comics to my first born when she was an infant. Or rather, I read them at her. At that age you can pretty much read anything to them and pretend that it's for their benefit too.

Early morning mother and daughter Thor time.
Now that my daughter's two she's understanding a lot more of what's being said, and I'm finding it more difficult to find comics that we will both enjoy reading together (and wont scar her for life). On my quest for the ultimate in comic bonding, I've tried a number of different tactics. At the beginning, I would just read my tamer Marvel comics. The life dramas of my favorite X-Men however appeared to not interest her in the slightest, and the things that did interest her I didn't feel like explaining to a 2 year old.

I then started trying to find comics with a more age-appropriate theme. My searches led me to Amulet, a fantasy series about a sister and brother who set out on a quest to rescue their mother.

From the get-go, amulet has a dark edge that is likely to go over the head of a younger audience. If however you have a precocious youngster who insists on asking about what is happening, you may find yourself in a rather interesting conversation about death and the loss of parent figures. Try wording that in simple terms! As the story goes on, it continues to get darker as the kids venture into a new world to rescue their mother. I found myself reading ahead (it's quite a good read for adults too), and skipping over the bits that would raise too many questions. It seems that the loss of a parent is a recurring point that the first volume wants to make.

Once the kids reach the point where the 'cutesy' characters come into play though, the story starts to lighten up and becomes much more enjoyable to read to a young audience. My 2 year old loves the 'rabbit', and is much more interested in the story at this point. As the story progresses in later volumes, her favorite character became 'the fox', and she loves hearing about him. Overall, the themes and most of the story are still too much for a 2 year old, but if they weren't they probably wouldn't interest me as much. The key is to set the scene and explain the action in your own words. The art and words just serve as a prompting for your own ingenious narration (hey, they're 2, it's ingenious to them).

More recently we went to our local comic store together, and she chose the well-know Bone comic as her new bedtime reading.

Fone Bone ahoy!
I think this one might be a bit too abstract for her yet, but she's loving looking through the artwork, and I think the second read through might give her more insight. She does seem to love looking at Bone and Thorn together though, and I'm certainly enjoying the read.

I think my agenda of installing a love of comics in her is working, albeit too well at times. Making sure she stays out of 'Mummy's' comics is proving harder, as she gets more interested in reading to herself. Not too sure how a conversation would go after her raiding my Walking Dead collection. Until then though, we can enjoy sharing our love with her new sister, who's about 2.5 months old now and prime for some comic action!

Raiding Mummy's collection as soon as she learnt to crawl.

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