Monday, March 02, 2009

Help: Are These Comics Appropriate For Children?

Hi all,

I've started a "Comics For Kids Out This Week" segment for both Comic Book Junction and the Friends of Lulu blog (cross-post), but I need some help determining whether some comics would be appropriate for children (and if so, what age bracket). I'm focusing mostly on children up to their early teens.

Here's the list:
  • DC Comics Classics Library: The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Life and Death of Ferro Lad (reprinting those old '60s stories)
  • Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil TP (Jeff Smith)
  • Danger Unlimited TP (John Byrne)
  • Turok: Son Of Stone Archives
  • Any of the IDW Transformers comics
  • IDW's Classic GI Joe
Now, it must be remembered that many of us grew up on regular ol' comics, without having to care much about age-appropriateness. As a small child, I read Batman, Superman, Avengers, and Teen Titans right off the rack. That's why when they reprint some of this older stuff, I wonder if it might be ok for kids. *Was* GI Joe from Marvel way-back-when appropriate for me to read? Or was it appropriate at age 12 but not at age 10? Or would a child even be *interested* in classic 'Joe?

Thanks for your help, and feel free to suggest!


  1. I read all of Shazam!: MSOE and it was definitely all ages appropriate. A lot of fun too.

  2. I just gave a way a lot of old comics to a friends of mines kid. One of the things I gave him was my collection of old GI Joes. I think the run I had spanned from issues 35-70. I loved those comics as a kid, but they were well worn and there was no way I was ever going to sit down and re-read them.

    I didn't know if he's like them at all, but it turns out out of all the other comics I gave him those were his favorite. So I guess some kids out there are still interested in them.

  3. Anonymous4:51 PM

    I'd say the Shazam, Turok, GI Joe, and Transformers titles for sure. I I've never read Danger Unlmtd or classic LOSH so I couldn't say. Though Turok might be for older kids above 8 or 9, from what I remember the original games were a little hardcore, just straight "action".

  4. I'd say no on DU by Byrne. For those ages anyway. Teens and up, sure but younguns, no.

  5. I'd say yes to Shazam, no to Danger Unlimited and maybe to Classic G.I.Joe.

  6. I'd say all are all right these days, with a slight caveat that G.I. Joe and Danger Unlimited would be at the higher end of the age range, and if you really want to be safe, drop it off entirely.

  7. I've thought about giving my transformers stuff to my baby cousin, and I checked the word bubbles beforehand. There are some swears in them, so I actually wouldn't recommend it.

    Marvel Adventures: The Avengers! I totally recommmend that.

    And, Chris Giarusso's Mini Marvels stuff.

  8. In the Legion book, the only problem area might be the death of Ferro Lad, if the kids aren't old enough to distinguish between fictional characters and real life. On the other hand, it's a great story to explain the concept of sacrifice.

    The stories can't be that adult; they were written by a 14-year old Jim Shooter.

  9. Anonymous7:11 PM

    Yes on classic Joe, maybe no on newer IDW Transformers. Or at least, older kids OK.

    Classic Joe did have some mature themes, but nothing graphic or terrible. It was really a well written book...subtle so kids wouldn't be "scarred" by anything (Snake Eyes getting burned is never shown, nor is there any blood or horrific death scenes, though there are some deaths)

    Let's put it this way. Did you ever see the short film "The Red Balloon"? This was much more traumatic to my psyche than any GI Joe comic.

    I realize I've become a bit of a "Joe" apologist lately! Yay?

    Sadly, I have yet to read Shazam, to my own dismay.

    If I may, perhaps any "old" comics that are "Approved by the Comics Code" would be just fine. Yo, Joe!

  10. The Turok book is a $50 book- even at a discount, I wonder how many parents are going to spring for this for their kids. I'd also wonder, having not read the material at all, if there were any dated attitudes towards Native Americans.

    Now, if someone was going to put out $50 for a kids book, I'd recommend the Herbie archives. The 2nd one just came out, and it's all sorts of twisted fun.

  11. Monster Society of Evil is excellent for kids - I know I would have loved it as young as seven or eight, though parts of it would certainly have made me sad and or scared (but only in a good character building way!).

    I'd also reccomend the Blue Beetle trade paperbacks for kids ten and up. Great action and art without excessive or gory violence, plus funny and engaging writing. The overall theme is responsibility and commitment, and I will openly admit to crying several times throughout the series. The story really takes off with the second trade, Road Trip, and the final arc, which will soon be released in a TPB called End Game, is one of the best superhero stories I've read in the last several years.

  12. It's shameful that this blog only wants to credit corporate-sponsored comic books who have the blessing of Diamond Distribution. There are tons of kid-friendly comic books out there beautifully crafted by small press publishers. Many can be viewed for free on Support comic book storytelling that isn't ruined by marketing teams determining story arcs. SUPPORT SMALL PRESS COMIC BOOKS.

  13. Shazam is not just appropriate for kids, but awesome for kids.

  14. Here is a link to Sergio's comic book "Dragon Frog":

    You sent me a link to your comic book two weeks ago, Sergio. I was going to review it eventually either on my blog or the Friends of Lulu blog, but I guess it was not fast enough.

    It's a nice comic book. It's got really great art. The lettering is not that great, and I think it hurts your art and makes the book look less professional. So my suggestion would be to have the book re-lettered. It might be an expense -- though they have computer programs, at least for Mac, where it's relatively easy to do.

    And I have reviewed and recommended many self-published books on this site -- everywhere from small press/independent to self-published on a Xerox machine.

  15. I'd say the DC stuff and Shazam are fine. I read a lot of that type of stuff with my six year old and she loves it. I've never looked at Danger or Truok. I'd say absolutely not on the IDW GI Joe and Transformers for two reasons, the glorification of violence and because they are terrible comics.

  16. Anonymous10:58 AM

    What a weird coincidence--I just reread those Legion stories last night!

    Let me put it this way--I read them when I was six and they were accessible (boy, were they accessible). I had no problem with Ferro Lad's death--it was a noble end to a guy who didn't let his deformity stop him being a hero.

    Now "The Ghost of Ferro Lad" might give 'em the creeps, but you know what? A lot of kids LIKE that...

  17. Cool. I wasn't speaking for my comic book, but thanks for the link and the honest review. Dragon Frog will be out as a full-length graphic novel within a few weeks, and I promise the lettering will be up to snuff. Since you could've chosen to not post my comment I'll definitely accept that you've reviewed small press books in the past. I love following your blog and will keep an eye out for those posts.

  18. Let the children read! lol

    Can kids handle violence? Sex? Adult themes? Is this about protecting hildren or parents from having to answer uncomfortable questions they've been putting off.

    I think the question should be "What Comics are Inappropriate For Children?", remembering there is a vast disparity of opinion in what children should/could handle without being emotionally scarred, and which ages are good for what.

    It's going to be much easier to get a consensus on what is NOT ok than what IS ok for kids.

    I grew up on x-men, death, genocide, "romance", Psylocke's splayed legs on every cover, racism, hatred etc. And I turned out fine right!? (hahaha)

    Ok but I wasn't the least bit tramatized by anything I read, I was intruigued and the themes opened up new avenues of thought for me via super-analogy.

    You can protect your children too much and stunt their intelletual/creative growth, it is a factor.

  19. Anonymous5:19 PM

    I think it looks good.

    I mean, what can a costume designer do that doesn't look ridiculous?

    Yeah, it does look like rubbery plastic, but our imagination takes over.

    Nice blog!