The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

NYCC 2008: Kids Comics Publisher’s Roundtable

Written by: Ron Bricker

ImageThis panel of publishers from all throughout the comics world provide insight on the growth, success, and opportunities of the kids comics industry.

Comics geared towards children are on the verge of a major breakthrough as the editing figureheads in some of the most popular titles all agree. Wholesome, non-revealing, and family oriented content is the way to reach kids, who haven’t had the opportunity to access comic books due to mean, angry parents as easily in the past. The panel, which was led by Janna Morishima of Diamond Kids, discussed an importance of librarians who champion graphic novels for children’s publishing. They also touched briefly upon each of their upcoming projects, all with the underlying knowledge that their medium is slowly but surely, growing.  Lisa Abrams of Aladdin Books, is behind a title called Sons of Liberty, created to bring an exciting, visual turn to American battles while leaving doors open for kids to find out more about history as well. She also stated a feeling that the most important step to furthering kid’s graphic novels would come simply from a larger selection devoted to them in the children’s section of book stores, all with a fresh yet familiar tone.

The title with the biggest response at the panel came from Jann Jones, senior editor at DC Comics, speaking about Tiny Titans. She spoke highly of new material and enjoyed a positive response to her book from parents amongst the crowd. Jones modestly spoke about the importance of freelancers in the release of the material, her peers agreeing. Randall Jarell, managing editor of Oni Press spoke from the opposite end of the spectrum, saying how important a direct market for adults was. He spoke quickly and fondly of Polly and the Pirates and its’ large audience, mentioning its’ friendly tone and educational value as well.

Mark Siegel, the most vocal of the panel, harmlessly indulged in speaking whole heartedly about his productions including Robot Dreams, describing a rather emotionally deep situation between a dog and his rusty mechanical friend. With works like Sardine in Space, he was quick to mention that he didn’t want to be offensive, a key and very important aspect of family geared material.

While all panelists certainly agreed that kids’ content is in a place far better than it has ever been, they also seemed undoubted by the fact that it has far more room to grow. With an age rating for graphic content, and none for prose, they concluded that that growth will have many obstacles to overcome in convincing skeptical parents and scholars alike that comics and graphic novels have educational value.