By Bob Cooper
Comic books. Graphic novels. Cartoons. Comic strips. All just different names used to refer to the unique form of storytelling combining words and pictures that has fascinated kids for decades.
Let’s just call ’em comics. Whether your kids already read comics, have never read comics, or maybe don’t even read that many books, I guarantee there’s a comic that will interest them—and maybe even get them more involved with reading.
To give you an idea of where to get started, here are 5 old and new classics of the medium that I’d recommend for kids of all ages:
Tintin is a boy reporter created by Belgian creator Hergé way back in 1929. Since then, Tintin and his faithful dog, Snowy, have been featured in a series of amusing and hair-raising adventures that have been published in dozens of languages and formats, and kept consistently in print. A good place to start might be Little, Brown’s handsome matching set of hardcover collections they began producing in 2009.
Disney’s Comics and Stories by Carl Barks, especially characters Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, are classic comic stories that no one should go without reading—kids or parents. Barks created hundreds of timeless adventures of the inhabitants in Duckburg beginning in the 1940s. His stories blend fun, colorful, and intelligent writing with a crisp, clean style of drawing that earned him the nickname “the Good Duck Artist.” There have been many publishers over the years that have attempted to collect all of Barks’ stories. Look for Gladstone’s 1990s series of collections, and Boom! Studios has also just recently begun an exhaustive archival project.
Bone was originally self-published by Jeff Smith as a series of comic books from 1991 to 2004. The story follows the adventures of the three Bone cousins as they become embroiled in a series of fantastical adventures with a group of memorable heroes and villains. Scholastic recently produced a series of hardcover collections, with glorious color added to Smith’s original black-and-white line art by Steve Hamaker.
Little Lit is a series of comic albums edited by Art Spiegelman (Maus) and François Mouly featuring comic stories written for kids by some of today’s best contemporary authors, including Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket—not to mention drawn by some of the best cartoonists in the business. I’ve always maintained that the best comics are the best-written comics, and with the illustrious group of authors (and artists) contributing to this series, you can’t go wrong.
Nursery Rhyme Comics is a 2011 collection from publisher First Second of classic nursery rhymes interpreted by a gaggle of today’s most popular comic artists. Each story is only a few pages long, and works as a perfect collection of bedtime stories to read to the youngest comic fans.
Any of these comics can be either found or ordered through your local comic shop. You can find a comic shop near you by using the handy comic shop locater service (www.comicshoplocator.com). And don’t forget to mark your calendars for Free Comic Book Day, annually held on the first Saturday in May (this year on May 4). There are a bunch of neat giveaways for every customer that enters the store on Free Comic Book Day, usually including some kids comic samplers.
If you have any comics you think should be added to our list above, please leave a comment for us. And just to make things more interesting, we’ll choose 3 commenters at random to receive a FREE copy of Bone Handbook, a companion volume to the nine-volume color Bone library.