January 27, 2011

Why I Love the Fraggle Rock Comic Book (some thoughts about comics and kids)

Why do I love the Fraggle Rock comic books?

Because my kids do.

Now, my kids love to read. Everything. Books. Magazines. And they love other comics as well. (For example, they're loving the Smurfs reprints from Papercutz.) (They even, sometimes, love some of the comics I've written. Sometimes.)

But Fraggle Rock is one that does it right, which is why I keep bringing it up. I've written about it before at length. And my kids reviewed Fraggle Rock in an episode of the podcast I co-host. And I've been thinking about all ages comics for a long time (and writing all ages comics for a long time as well). But here are a couple things I've been thinking about today.

Here's what I like about Fraggle Rock. It contains high quality artwork, yes, but it does something else: it encourages kids to be artists as well. Case in point:

Last week's Fraggle Rock had a little art project. "How to Make Fingerprint Art" or something like that. And today, my middle daughter (who is just learning to read) came walking in with the above picture. "Look Daddy," she said, "I made Red."

While her brother and older sister were playing video games, it seems she was looking at the comic and came to the activity page in the back and decided to do it. She followed the visual instructions and was quite proud of the result. (I was too.)

UPDATE: When my son and oldest daughter saw what my middle daughter did -- and that I put it on my blog -- they had to join in:

 Red, by my oldest daughter

 Doozers, by my oldest son

The problem: there's not a lot out there like this. Material that engages and entertains and educates and inspires. There needs to be more. But, sadly, it doesn't sell (or, at least, that's what we're told). I'm curious what sales figures actually are for different all ages books.

What's the solution? I don't know. I have some ideas. Comic ideas . . . iPad type ideas . . . I was just on hte phone today with one of my publishers talking about this very question. But there's two questions that need to be answered: what are the stories that will engage young readers and, maybe more importantly, how do we get it to them?

~ Ben

PS -- Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my own all ages book, coming to stores soon!

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