Shame on DC for abandoning kids comics

I was surprised and sad to see, via the publisher's solicitations for upcoming comics, that DC is phasing out its superhero comics for young readers: Batman: Brave and the Bold, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam and DC Super Friends. It looks as if, after a team-up mini-series with characters from the Archie Comics universe, that Tiny Titans may no long run as a regular title either.

I'm sad because these titles provided a way for younger kids to enjoy characters they see on TV and in ads for PG-13 movies they're too young to see but get excited about anyway because of all the ads and fast food toys. And I'm especially sad because my own children enjoyed these titles. My 12-year-old son, a big fan of cartooning, enjoyed the manic, imaginatively illustrated Billy Batson title. And my 6-year-old daughter loved DC Super Friends. Not only that, the title has been a big boost in helping her learn how to read.

Sure, there are other -- and even better --- comics out there for kids. My son has become a fan of Bone, Asterix, Calvin & Hobbes, Amulet, Tintin and other titles far afield of the mainstream superhero world. My daughter loves Owly and Dark Horse's reprints of Little Lulu. But she also loves Wonder Woman. And now it looks as if there won't be any age-appropriate way for her to enjoy the amazon's exploits.

When I was 9 or 10, I had a whole spinner rack of stuff I could pick up an enjoy. But the mainstream Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc., titles are no longer really geared or appropriate to that age group. I'd be ok with my daughter reading 1970s-era Wonder Woman tales, and maybe I'll pick up some DC Showcase volumes for her to enjoy. But I think it's a little sad that we live in the world where most comics featuring characters that were created for children are no longer appropriate for children.

Valerie D'Orazio, over at Occasional Superheroine, nicely sums up this pitiful paradigm:

Having comics be essentially "taken over" by hardcore male fans -- blocking out women, and eventually children -- is ultimately the worst thing that ever happened to this industry. I'm not talking "worst" in terms of the ethical reasons -- but just from a simple business standpoint alone. The "fanboy revolution" killed not only the female market, but also the children's market. Alienating 1/2 of the population is one thing -- but then to knowingly cut off the future generation of readers as well! Remarkably short-sighted and selfish.
I'm glad my children share my love of comics, that they there are titles out there for them to enjoy. But it's too bad they'll be losing out on these DC titles they enjoyed so much. I don't know that my son -- now that he's getting into his teens and the demographic Marvel and DC gear most of their books to (well, actually, I think the demo may be more 30s and 40s and getting rapidly older) -- will develop an interest in mainstream superhero titles or not. Given the dearth of female-friendly and kid-friendly super-titles, I'm pretty doubtful my daughter ever will.


  1. I'm not one to defend every move DC makes. At all. And I think they handled the cancellation of the titles rather poorly, and I wasn't actually at Comic-Con, but it seems DC more or less said "we're canceling these to change the format. They'll be back soon."

    It also sounded like DC was going to be working with Archie Comics to distribute their comics back out to news stands and all those places where kids comics have disappeared.

    This whole thing might evaporate, or have been some elaborate smoke and mirrors, but it sounds like a response to the problem of comics being targeted to an audience that is squarely "not kids".

    Diane Nelson is not going to be looking to reduce growth of DC a year after taking over as head of DCE. They aren't going to make more fans of adults, but they are going to look for more channels to get out to kids with the DC properties.

    Also: From the pics I see of Comic-Con, I'm having a hard time believing that comics are busily alienating women. I understand and agree with some of D'Orazio's statements about institutionalized issues in comics, but looking at solicitations, its hard to ignore the growing number of comics created by women, and the number of titles seemingly geared specifically at female readers, especially at Marvel and to a smaller and less overt degree at DC.

  2. I feel your pain.
    While it isn't a superhero comic, maybe see if you can get your daughter interested in the Ellie McDoodle books. If something like Ellie existed when I was a kid I'd have been much happier, rather than having to wade through boy-oriented comics to find the few that understand the girl point of view. (Disclaimer: I created Ellie)

  3. My boy loves the Archie Digests, we can find them for him at the Walmart checkouts.

    It even seems the "Betty and Veronica" Digests are much more geared to girls (the last one I saw was almost a romance comic!).

    Sadly those DC comics are impossible to get unless you order them by advance mail order... no comic shop remotely close to me. They need to get these Kid friendly titles back on the newstand... and not at 7 - 8 dollars like Marvel tries with their kid-magazine titles. Too costly.


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