At the local comic shop today, I was talking with the owners about the lack of all ages comics out there. The conversation started as we were discussing the cancellation of Static Shock by DC Comics, which COULD have been an all ages book but instead was geared toward (my theory) the people who watched the series when they were kids and are now older. One of the new titles replacing Static Shock is Dial H for Hero, which COULD be an all ages book but is instead a sci-fi horror type of thing (judging from the cover and the series description from the editor). (This led into my rant about “if I were writing Dial H for Hero, here’s how I would do it” which is a silly exercise at best, but for a geek writer, I’ve got to have some fun, right? Also, next to Aquaman and Captain Canuck, Dial H for Hero is officially one of the characters I want to write someday.)
Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that all comics MUST be all ages. I enjoy well told stories about grown up things. But looking at all of DC Comics’ new 52 titles, none of them are meant for an all ages audience. Maybe that’s okay. But the owners of the shop would like to see more all ages book as well — but “publishers don’t think they sell well enough”. And maybe they don’t.
Of course, we had this conversation while I had two all ages comics in the plastic “Thank You for Shopping” bag. In the middle of the store that PUBLISHED one of my all ages comics.
Maybe “all ages” is not the best description for Wordgirl (kaboom!). Based on the PBS series, a series that my children love, this small graphic novel does what the TV show does. Teaches the meaning of new words using a goofy action/adventure story. It’s charming, witty, and stylistic. But to call it “all ages” would probably be a misnomer — I don’t think anyone older than the age of ten would get into it.
Because I consider a book to be “all ages” if it is meant to appeal to all ages. It may have elements that skew one way or another, but essentially it will (at best) entertain or (at worst) hold the attention of younger readers and adults.
Wordgirl held my attention, with its style and its clever writing, but I don’t know how many other adults would feel that way. However, I can’t recommend it enough for younger readers. My seven year old daughter was very excited to see it and read it.
Meanwhile, there’s Fraggle Rock Classic (Archaia). Unlike Archaia’s two earlier volumes (yet another title I’d LOVE to be working on) which were essentially an awesome anthology of indy creators, but an anthology set in the Fraggle world, this book reprints the first four issues of the old 1985 Marvel Fraggle Rock from Star Comics (Marvel’s kid comic imprint). It’s written by Stan Kay with art by Marie Severin.
This one, to me, really is all ages. Especially if you are a fan of Jim Henson and the Fraggles. The newer material Archaia has put out is probably of a higher quality, but both my children and I enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to getting volume two (which I believe will have the rest of the series, issues 5 through 8).