All-Ages Comics Spotlight

February 28, 2016

Most comics in recent decades have been geared towards a particular demographic: twenty to thirty year-old men.  Mostly it is simple economics on the basis of that being the group that buys most of the comics.  This of course has had a major influence on the comics produced, mostly seen in the more realistic and graphic storytelling at work.  Most all-ages comics are usually based off of children’s television and rely on cross-promotion, with only a handful of real original concepts really taking hold.  All-ages comics are an interesting commodity in today’s comic market, as there have been only a handful of serious successes.  In my mind there are three:  Tiny Titans, My Little Pony and Mouse Guard.  Those three are the ones that set the standard and have had the most commercial success.

Tiny Titans was a play on the Teen Titans concept, introducing younger versions of the characters in a school yard setting.  Produced by Art Balthazar and Franco Aureliani, this series ran for a total of fifty-six issues before the pair decided to give the same treatment to other properties–they worked on a Superman book as well as comic about Hellboy, called Itty Bitty Hellboy.  Tiny Titans was very effective for a number of reasons.  At the same time the popular Teen Titans cartoon show was on, creating more interest.  In addition, Art and Franco were clever enough to work in a number of reference to classic Teen Titans storylines, giving older audiences a much needed opening to enjoy the comics.  Probably the best work done on an all-ages comic by either of the big two.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a very interesting series in its own way.  Based on the television show if the same name, it is the continuation of the adventures of Twilight Sparkle and her friends in comic form.  Given the prominence of Brony culture–given my stance on the television show, I don’t consider myself to be a Brony–this one is a bit obvious in being all-ages.  With a variety of talented writers and artists involved in the storyline–most notably Katie Cook and Andy Price–they have produced a comic that consistent is one of the better series out there.  I think it’s better than the television show, to be honest.  Personally, I find the television show to be a bit annoying and enjoy the comics more–weird, given that Tara Strong voices Twilight Sparkle and is one of my favorite voice actors.

Then there’s Mouse Guard.  David Petersen’s tale of Mice warriors was originally based on the DnD games he played with friends and had become so much more.  Maybe geared a bit more towards the older end of all-ages, he has produced volumes of it fairly regularly over the past several years–including some anthologies with other creators contributing stories to add depth to the mythos.  With a great motto like “It matters not what you fight, but what you fight for”, this book has been consistently brilliant.  And Lieam versus the snake was pretty epic.  Another reminder I need to reacquire all of those–preferably before NYCC, so I can get them all signed.

I’m sure there are others that are good, but those are the three that stand out to me.  All-ages comics should just be fun.  It is a shame there aren’t more.  In general, I think people want to love comic books.  All-ages comics are a fantastic way to get people into comics without worrying about a lot of the more… adult themes and topics we see in the general array.  And I like to think that reading in all forms is good.  I know people there’s a “comics as literature” argument, and I think how could you not?  A well done comic is a variety of storytelling that combines many art forms.  It creates connections.  I know one of the moments I first felt accepted by my ex’s family was when I gave her niece volume one of Tiny Titans for her birthday.  One of the first real connections I established based on the gift of comic book.

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One Response to “All-Ages Comics Spotlight”

  1. miriamrburden said

    I myself have started a graphic novel, and although it’s intended for mature audiences, I definitely understand what you are saying! The same goes for movies that written for all ages. The one that comes to mind is The Mummy with Brendan Frasier. It has something for everyone. A lot of comics, when they’re transposed into movies, lose their fan base. I was reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, and he was pissed that they wanted to make the Conan series PG13, because you’re losing a whole lotta market who expects blood and gore. It all depends on what market these artists/writers want to attract.

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