Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Passing The Torch

We got Little e a few pressies for her birthday yesterday, but the one that had special significance to me was that I gave her Her Very First Comic. It was a Smurfs comic, the old original Smurfs that the 80's show was based on. I had really wanted to get her Bone, but we figured she wasn't quite old enough yet. When I read some to her last year, she loved it, but had a nightmare about the Rat Creatures.  So, my plan is to leave that until she turns 6.

One of my first comics was a Smurfs one, back when I was a kid. I have always loved comics, but actually never really read that many superhero ones. I grew up on Archie, Asterix, TintinPeanuts and stuff like that. It wasn't til later that I got into other ones, like 2000AD and then as an adult things like Hellboy and B.P.R.D. And of course my beloved Conan.

But I think as a medium for kids, comics are underestimated in their value, kind of seen as a trashy thing to read when there are real books available. But kids can learn a lot from comics, about visual language and storytelling. I also expanded my vocabulary a lot reading Asterix for example. In some ways a comic is like watching a movie, but rather than a kid turning into a zombie in front of the tele, a comic makes them work. they need to use their brain to read the words, obviously, but also to read the pictures, and to make the connections between one panel and the next.

Without comics I probably wouldn't have become  interested in drawing, and wouldn't have gone down the carreer path I chose. Even though I work in animation, I never really had that same love for cartoons, it's always been about comics, and this was as close as I could get! So, in my mind yesterday was a significant passing of the torch.


Stuart Heath said...

Lovely :)

I reckon well-written comics are great things for children to read (just like well-written books without drawings). My favourite (children's) comic remains Astérix, but I also love Lucky Luke. They both expanded my vocabulary in two languages :) I can't wait until our children are old enough for them. I also have a complete set of Calvin and Hobbs that they can touch as soon as they work out how to put on their own cotton gloves. Oh, and keep saliva mostly inside their mouths.

I went to a talk by Marjane Satrapi where she said that she refused to call comics 'graphic novels' in English. They're comics. There are bad ones and good ones; ones for children and ones for adults. Like other forms of literature, good comics can treat of all the major themes of human experience.

There's not the same condescension towards them in France (or, presumably, Belgium).

(P.S. If you haven't read Satrapi's Persepolis, please repent and get yourself a copy now:

Anonymous said...

I'm such a comics newbie, although I have added Bone to my to-read list because of your reviews, Ben!

Stuart, I totally agree about Persepolis. A friend recently loaned me the book as an introduction to the world of comics, and I LOVED it.

The same friend also put together an anthology of comics about depression, which I think is pretty awesome; you can read them here:

Erin said...

So weird. Just read a note from school saying my 10 year old is starting a visual literacy unit in English, and then read this. A quote from the note: "In an increasingly digital-age, images are once again becoming very important to how children communicate with and relate to the world around them. This unit promises to help children to ‘read’ images correctly."
Also just in time as my son is getting heavily into Tintin and Asterix.