I just finished reading a great piece about how comic book makers are not targeting kids under 12 anymore (read the piece here). I was thinking on this, my greatest diversity of reading comics was in my pre-teen years. I loved the Star Comics line by Marvel (almost every title geared towards preteen), Archie Comics, Richie Rich, the Carl Barks Scrooge Stories. Those are all books I would still pick up and read today, and some are quite infantile. That was a time and place in my life that I was reading anything I could get my hands on.
Now it seems that the companies are targeting their starting age at 13. Which, as the article points out, loses the companies years of brand recognition. While marketing to children is always a dicey proposition – I’m not sure where I stand on this. My son is two – we don’t watch “Real TV” so the only commercials he sees is in the forms of Edutainment (Dinosaur Train is an excellent example). He is not advertised cereal or see kids playing with toys, but he does know who Mickey Mouse is. On that same note he also knows Darth Vader, Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, etc. That kind of thing happens in a household where both your parents are geeks.
I don’t think I would censor most comics from my son when he gets to be of age, but realities can change. I wouldn’t throw him into The Watchmen – but if he was reading JLA or Iron-Man – comics for teens, I wouldn’t care. I read “teen” comics before I was a teen – but they also told me I had a college reading level in 5th grade. So if I was in fifth grade and could comprehend reading at an 18-20 year old level when I was 12 – that means I wasn’t limiting myself to reading in my age group. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t – I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I also read mounds and mounds of comic books. If I had my dollar allowance I would beg my mother or my grandmother to take me down to the flea market just so I could get 10 comics for a dollar. Most of the time it was Archie and Richie Rich comics, because as a kid it was quantity over quality. I felt I got my money’s worth and I loved the stories.
At a young age I was hooked, but now not so much. I do occasionally read comics and I buy comic books a few times a year. I don’t have the time to devote to them now. I have comics buried in the attic that my son will inherit, he’ll also be loaded with mounds of flea market books as he is interested. He won’t have that joy of standing by the cash registers at Convenient and begging for a new comic. That era doesn’t exist. Part of it is the times, but it is also the marketing and who comic retailers consider their “core” audience.
Please read the link I posted at the begging of this post, it is long – but fascinating.