Biff! Pow! Zap! There are comics for kids once more
March 14, 2015 3:45 AM   Subscribe

If we were to pick a Person Of The Year for 2014, I think it would be pretty obvious that it would have to be Raina Telgemeier who absolutely ruled the roost with the #1, 3 and 5th best-selling books ("Sisters," "Smile," and "Drama") through BookScan. And it is fairly certain that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the New York Times reports that "Sisters" has printed more than 1.4 million copies so far, and it only came out in August of 2014!
Raina Telgemeier, who on her own is responsible for 3.6 percent of all book sales reported through Bookscan, isn't the only one making a success of comics aimed at kids: the majority of the top 20 bestselling graphic novels are aimed at kids, Brian Hibbs shows.
posted by MartinWisse (15 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Thank the sweet lord for Raina Telgemeier! My nine-year-old I got a copy of "Sisters" from a friend last night, and I could hear her giggling as she read it. (It was after 10pm and she was supposed to be sleeping, but kids staying up late to read is a time-honored tradition of childhood, so who am I to stop that?)

I'll be looking for Raina's other books.
posted by math at 4:39 AM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I did not expect my 9-year-old son, who has pretty traditionally gendered interests, to go ape for a book called Sisters, but he's now read that and her other books multiple times. Quality is quality.
posted by escabeche at 5:34 AM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

My three year old always wants me to "read" her Calvin and Hobbes, which has been fun. Reminded how wordy and complex the jokes are... we usually end up just looking at the illustrations together and talking about what's happening. Sardine in Outer Space, OTOH, we have read many times. Not QUITE appropriate for her age but I don't think I've scarred her for life or anything. I Also recently bought the Fairy Tale Comics anthology... some of the stories are too scary but she likes them.

Coming from story books it's not super surprising... the format is not totally different, and some artists, like Jon J Muth, have done cool stuff in both genres.

And of course kids were more the audience for comics in earlier eras. We seem to be emerging from the idea of everything in media getting marketed to white male teens. Thank God.
posted by selfnoise at 5:56 AM on March 14, 2015

There have always been comics for kids. What nerds complain about is when the comics their kids are interested aren't the same things said nerd was interested in when he was a kid.
posted by Legomancer at 6:52 AM on March 14, 2015


We've picked up some great stuff aimed at our eldest daughter lately, and the range if books available is impressive - there is a healthy and diverse market out there beyond the direct market and cape stuff.
posted by Artw at 6:54 AM on March 14, 2015

All-Ages Week: The 2015 Parent Survey Results and Responses
- makes for interesting reading, plus I'm in it.
posted by Artw at 6:57 AM on March 14, 2015

They did a whole week of articles, in fact.
posted by Artw at 6:59 AM on March 14, 2015

I knew women were finally coming back to comics but this is much better than I had ever hoped. Great article.
posted by Bonzai at 7:00 AM on March 14, 2015

Raina is a great lady and it's been fantastic to watch her books become these massive juggernauts over the past few years. I first met Raina back when Smile was still a webcomic and she'd only just started (or was about to start..?) work on her Baby Sitters Club adaptations. She's always been a smart and hardworking and talented woman, and it's really wonderful that she now has a platform that allows her work to connect with so many kids and adults.

I've also been heartened to see more talk about her within the comics community itself. Comics is not, as a group, always great about acknowledging the contributions and successes of creators (particularly women) whose work is mostly being consumed by mainstream readers.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:35 AM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Raina Telgemeier is a national treasure.
posted by Flannery Culp at 7:44 AM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

That said, Drama bugs me because it seems so clearly to have been written about high school kids - the skill levels and amount of autonomy given the crew, the romantic relationships and easy acceptance of different orientations, the talk of drama team members graduating and leaving - as though at some point $PUBLISHER said "but Raina, all your other books are for and about middle schoolers, let's just edit this quick". I still love it, but I read it assuming Callie is in grade 11, not 7.
posted by Flannery Culp at 7:51 AM on March 14, 2015

I have really enjoyed the ongoing maturization of comics into a full-fledged adult medium approximately coinciding with reaching adulthood myself, but it really has made it more difficult to find appropriate material for my son to read. He wants to grab anything off the shelf that has the Avengers or whomever on the cover, and it's been had to bring him down to the shop and have to tell him that this or that comic is off-limits.

That experience has really made me value the ones that are pitched to his level, and won't have me trying to explain why it's ok for Wolverine to eviscerate three guys, but he isn't allowed to headbutt people in school.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:16 AM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd also like to give a shoutout to Jennifer Holm, whose Babymouse and Squish! series are also genius for this age group.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:34 AM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

These books are incredibly popular in my library. My desk is right next to graphic novels so I get to hear the little gasp when kids find Sisters on the shelf.
posted by Biblio at 10:53 AM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

This seems like a good spot to mention the work of Frank Cammuso, particularly his his Salem Hyde series--a funny, beautifully drawn Bewitched for kids, with the joke-a-page pace of a Peanuts book.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 12:51 PM on March 14, 2015

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