From the mouths of babes
Submitted by Faith on October 14, 2008 - 20:23
Today Leisl and I went to a private school in the city to teach children ages 11-14 about comics. Or cartooning, or both. It was nerve-wrackingly fun, in that kids make me kind of nervous because I don't deal with children very often, and I'm always worrying that I'm boring them. But I really like talking to kids about comics and seeing their enthusiasm. We got them all designing characters and tried to get them drawing, although some of the kids seemed very stressed about things looking 'perfect,' and I kind of understand their frustration. Drawing is hard! But it's also hard to articulate that it shouldn't be, that it should just be fun and you shouldn't worry about making a perfect drawing. Anyway, I tried to be encouraging, and tried to get them to draw non-human characters if the complexity of humans was stressing them out. I think it went well. I was impressed how most of them just sat and drew very intently for a half hour. One note: that Fruits book I have is a huge hit with girls age 11-14. They absolutely loved it.
I asked the kids what they liked to read, because I'm always curious. I got a few manga titles, one Baby Sitter's Club (I got to be all "I know the person who does those!" and was instantly miles cooler), and when I held up a copy of Bone, suddenly all the kids started bouncing up and down and grinning and saying how awesome Bone was. Literally all of them, boys and girls, all very much on the Bone love train (as they should be. As all should be!). Very cool. One thing I noticed, and you can infer what you want from this, was that no one mentioned that they read Spiderman or Batman or X-Men or Superman. I even asked if anyone read "floppy comics, normal comics" and got a bunch of blank stares. The closest I got to a superhero comic was one kid saying he'd read Watchmen, which was a little weird. He looked about 12.
Anyway, draw your own conclusions from that, but I know what conclusions I draw when I spend time with a bunch of cartoon-mad kids and none of them read "mainstream" comics. (Also, it is much less scary to do these workshops with a friend.)