Sidekicked: How Superhero Publishers Are Failing Kids

Janelle Asselin has written a brilliant and heart-felt essay on the lack of quality comics for kids in general (and girls in particular) for Comics Alliance. It illustrates beautifully some of the reasons that we created Heroic Girls in the first place. From the piece:

Comic readers are often annoyed by the outdated assertion, “but comic books are for kids!” As those of us within this culture know, comics today are usually made for and marketed to adults, especially single issues and superhero comics. However, comics, as a medium, should and can serve a vast variety of demographics. Publishers simply need to be ready to create the books that readers will read.

Most comic readers can point to some great comics for kids, including Smile, Bone, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Adventure Time – but for many parents and young readers, there is a huge void in the comics that exist today. There are very few high-quality, positive, superhero comics for kids.

The majority of superhero comics on the stands today are not exactly kid-friendly. Whether it’s the amount of violence or the complexity of the storytelling, the superhero comics that make up the majority of the direct market’s business aren’t the kind of stories that are okay to hand to a child younger than his or her teens.

But even beyond the need for stories that are accessible for kids and less dark and violent than adult comics, there’s a definite lack of superhero stories for any age that focus on positivity and the joy of being a hero. To digress into my own very specific kind of nerdity for a moment, as a kid I was obsessed with books like Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. The characters in these books faced real challenges, like the loss of parents and homes, but the general tone was positive and encouraging.

It was my love for strong, upbeat, outspoken heroines that led me to comics, but today I feel like there’s a dearth of comics featuring that kind of character (though not a complete lack, thankfully) and if I had to travel back in time with a comic to hand my younger self, I would have nothing. At least, that is, nothing with capes in it.

Asselin talks to comics creators, editors and shops and paints a picture of a community that recognizes there is a problem, but is fighting against tough market forces and callous executives whenever they attempt positive change.

Read the entire article on Comics Alliance: Sidekicked: How Superhero Publishers Are Failing Kids