The final panel I attended at this year’s Comic-Con was a conversation between Gene Yang and Paul Pope about their upcoming all-ages comics. It’s a genre that I hadn’t really considered beforehand, probably because I grew up reading comics without ever thinking that they were written for kids. From the heaviness of The Silver Surfer to the gore of pre-code E.C. Comics, it was all great. But as mainstream comics have amped up the sex, violence, and controversy to new heights in an effort to keep readers interested, offerings for kids are dumbed down, cleaned up, or just plain stupid. Those sweeping generalizations are mine and not the panelists’, but perhaps it’s time to make quality comics more available to kids–like having all-ages punk shows.
Gene talked about his Boxers and Saints books, which tell story of the Boxer Rebellion through the Chinese patriots’ and Chinese Christians’ points of views, respectively. Especially interesting, considering that Gene is a student of either point of view. His books are already out and available now.
And then there’s Paul Pope’s new book. I grabbed reader’s edition and it blew my mind with its Jack Kirby meets The Twilight Zone vibe. Main characters perish, the populace is afraid, and there are awesome monsters. The hero just happens to be a kid, and he’s kind of freaked out. This ain’t Scooby-Doo.
The first installment of Battling Boy drops next month, and I want everyone to know in advance that it rules. So here’s a quick Q&A with the creator of THB, Heavy Liquid, and Batman: Year 100 to get you excited and maybe even share with your friends.
MW: Tell me why you’re making an all-ages comic. That’s something many artists don’t do unless they have kids and are stuck reading lousy kids’ comics!
PP: I think there aren’t enough good comics which are directly aimed at a kid audience. I love the challenge of making a bad-ass comic which is kid-friendly and does all the cool shit we remember from Heavy Metal magazine and old Jack Kirby comics, and delivers in such a way as to be accessible to kids. Nothing too violent or too harsh, but still not too sugar-coated and dumbed down. Something genuine. I don’t have kids, but I was a kid, you know?
MW: Do you recall what you read as a kid?
PP: I read everything. I was a voracious reader. Donald Duck through Heavy Metal through Dune, I read it all.
MW: How do you see all-ages comics these days in comparison?
PP: I dunno, I don’t look at all-ages comics, outside of Adventure Time. But if kid’s comics means Scooby-Doo and Bugs Bunny, that stuff is like 40 or 50 years old. Those are classics, for sure. But kids need new comics. (more…)