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A bird on fire and other comics for kids

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I’m very excited about the new weekly children’s comic, the Phoenix. If you have children and/or love comics, check it out:

From a strip in the Phoenix by Neill Cameron and Daniel Hartwell.

From a strip in the Phoenix by Neill Cameron and Daniel Hartwell.

After a lunchtime twitter discussion, I now want to start compiling a list of comics for kids – both child-suitable comics that adults read too (ie no naughty bits) and comic stories aimed directly at children.  If anyone has any recommendations, do tell me on twitter (@louiestowell) or leave a comment here. I’ll update the list and say who recc’d it. So, the list below is a work in progress, but here are some comics for kids…so far, just the ones I can think of off the top of my head but I’ll try to add more when I get a chance: COMICS: a reading list for kids Asterix – all of them. Tintin – I’m definitely an Asterix partisan but Tintin’s not bad too. Boule et Bill/Billy and Buddy – just found out this has been published in translation by @Cinebook. Great for younger kids (5 plus I’d say). It features lots of short strip cartoon stories. Vern and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre – another good one for young ‘uns, nothing too scary and lots of bitesized stories in the book, quirky and funny Diary of a Wimpy Kid – no, it’s not strictly a comic, but I think it deserves a mention as a story for kids that makes good use of sequential art. Big Nate – Lincoln Pierce. Like Wimpy Kid, not a full-on comic but uses panel-based storytelling in fun ways. The Ballad of Halo Jones – Alan Moore (originally published in 2000AD). It’s not technically for kids, but I read it when I was little and it’s an amazing story. It’s what kickstarted my love of space. Don’t think there’s anything unsuitable in it, though parents should probably read it first and judge for themselves. As per the above, I think there’s a lot of 2000AD stories that would be good for kids… but I do hesitate to go mad with recommendations as the art might seem a bit dated and the pages over-crowded to kids growing up in a contemporary visual universe. Pride of Bagdhad – written by Brian K Vaughan, tells the story of the Iraq war from the P.O.V. of a pride of lions escaped from a zoo. Again, not written specifically for kids, so probably worth parents checking it’s suitable for their particular child. It’s not quite the lion king – it’s dark, as you might imagine, but I think it’s a nice insight into the grown up world for children… with all its madness and futility. Has a kid-friendly appeal imo. EDIT: Some more excellent recommendations with some age suggestions from @alikichapple on twitter – many more, in fact. She was on fire! Thanks so much to her (or if you’re reading this, @alikichapple, you) Flight Explorer (7+), Zip and Li’l Bit (web comic, here), Bone (8+), and the various DFC collections (I like Good Dog Bad Dog best) Amulet (7+), Little Vampire (8/9+), Amy Unbounded (10+) and, Aliki says, “my kid loves Castle Waiting, though it’s for grown ups.” Owly (<5) Scary Godmother (4-6) Zita The Space Girl 6/7-10) Sardine In Outer Space (8+) The Super Secret Science Alliance(10+) Thanks also to @Comicgrid and others for retweets. The former suggested a google doc to collate all this. That’s a note to self really. But, for anyone interested in comics for kids, @comicsgrid also mentioned a post on The Comics Journal, here: Look out for more updates 🙂 In fact, here’s one right now from @neilcameron on twitter – Calvin and Hobbes. <–I’ve not actually read any, though I did enjoy their Winter is Coming Game of Thrones cartoon. EDIT 2: Gum Girl by Andi Watson (Walker) Teenytinysaurs by Gary Northfield, also Walker Then a couple of suggestions from Forbidden planet – on twitter, – Adventure Time by Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame, for grownups) – Cinebook Ltd is a good place to get hold of Euro comics in translation, which are often more kid-friendly… Gary Northfield ( @gnorthfield) has recommended a publisher called Papercutz, who do loads of all-ages graphic novels. I haven’t had a chance to look properly but they look like a LOT of fun. And here are some more recs from Gary: Ariol, Sleepwalkers, Captain Pugwash, DFC Library, Marvel Adventures. EDIT 3: A great list of comics suitable for upper primary plus from @jabberworks, aka Sarah McIntyre. I’ve deleted anything already mentioned to avoid repeats. At least I think I have. 🙂 Okido magazine Anorak magazine Yoko Tsuno – all the books Yakari – all the books Gary Northfield – Derek the Sheep Gregory Rogers – The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard Raina Telgemeier – Smile Raina Telgemeier – Drama Emmanuel Guibert and Marc Boutavant – Ariol 1: Just a Donkey Like You and Me (Also available in French) Emmanuel Guibert and Marc Boutavant – Ariol 2 Emmanuel Guibert and Marc Boutavant – Ariol 3: Happy as a Pig Emmanuel Guibert and Marc Boutavant – Ariol 4 James Turner – DFC Library: Super Animal Adventure Squad Dave Shelton – DFC Library: Good Dog, Bad Dog John Aggs and Patrice Aggs – DFC Library: The Boss Robin Etherington and Lorenzo Etherington – DFC Library: Baggage Jamie Smart – DFC Library: Fish-Head Steve Robin Etherington and Lorenzo Etherington – DFC Library: Monkey Nuts: The Diamond Egg of Wonders Neill Cameron – DFC Library: Mo-bot High Woodrow Phoenix – Sugar Buzz: Live at Budukan! Dave Roman – Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity Dave Roman – Astronaut Academy: Re-entry Eleanor Davis – The Secret Science Alliance Bill Watterson – It’s A Magical World: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection Bill Watterson – Scientific Progress Goes “Boink”: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection Bill Watterson – Yukon Ho!: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Four Bill Watterson – Lazy Sunday: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Five: A Collection of Sunday Calvin and Hobbes Cartoons Bill Watterson – Weirdos From Another Planet: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Six Bill Watterson – The Authoritative Calvin And Hobbes: The Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Seven Bill Watterson – Attack Of The Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Ten Bill Watterson – The Indispensable Calvin And Hobbes: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Eleven Bill Watterson – The Days Are Just Packed: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Twelve Bill Watterson – Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Thirteen Bill Watterson – There’s Treasure Everywhere: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Fifteen Bill Watterson – Something Under the Bed is Drooling: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection Bill Watterson – Calvin & Hobbes:Tenth Anniversary Book: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Fourteen Lynn Johnstone – It Must be Nice to be Little: A for Better or for Worse Collection Lynn Johnstone – Keep the Home Fries Burning: A for Better or for Worse Collection Lynn Johnstone – It’s All Downhill from Here: A for Better or for Worse Collection Gary Larson – The Far Side Gallery 1 Gary Larson – The Far Side Gallery 2 Gary Larson – The Far Side Gallery 3 Gary Larson – The Far Side Gallery 4 Gary Larson – The Far Side Gallery 5 Tracey Turner & Sally Kindberg – The Comic Strip History of Space Tracey Turner & Sally Kindberg – The Comic Strip History of the World Tracey Turner & Sally Kindberg – The Comic Strip Greek Myths Tracey Turner & Sally Kindberg – The Comic Strip Big Fat Book of Knowledge Tracey Turner & Sally Kindberg – The Comic Strip Book of Dinosaurs Simone Lia – Fluffy Philippa Rice – My Cardboard Life Shaun Tan – The Arrival Luke Pearson – Hilda and the Midnight Giant Luke Pearson – Hilda and the Bird Parade Ann M. Martin & Raina Telgemeier – The Baby-sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea Ann M. Martin & Raina Telgemeier – The Baby-sitters Club: The Truth about Stacey Ann M. Martin & Raina Telgemeier – The Baby-sitters Club: Mary Ann Saves the Day Ann M. Martin & Raina Telgemeier – The Baby-sitters Club: Claudia and Mean Janine Tove Janssson: Moomin: the complete Tove Jansson comic strip K.A. Gerrard & Emma Dodd – A Roman Rescue K.A. Gerrard & Emma Dodd – An Egyptian Escape And now a teen/secondary collection from Sarah: Viviane Schwarz – The Sleepwalkers Tom Gauld – Goliath Ben Haggarty and Adam Brockbank – DFC Library: Mezolith Kate Brown – DFC Library: The Spider Moon: Book 1 Raymond Briggs – Ethel & Ernest Raymond Briggs – When the Wind Blows Raymond Briggs – Ug Darryl Cunningham – Psychiatric Tales Darryl Cunningham – Science Tales Skim – Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki Bill Watterson – The Essential Calvin And Hobbes: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Three: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury Andi Watson – Gum Girl 1 ((mentioned above, but here’s the full collection plus more from the same creator)) Andi Watson – Gum Girl 2 Andi Watson – Gum Girl 3 Andi Watson – Glister: The Family Tree Andi Watson – Glister: The Haunted Teapot Andi Watson – Glister: The Faerie Host Andi Watson – Glister: The House Hunt Jiro Taniguchi – The Walking Man Daniel Clowes – Ghost World Hope Larson – A Wrinkle in Time Hope Larson – Gray Horses Hope Larson – Chiggers Lucy Knisley – French Milk Lucy Knisley – Relish Cyril Pedrosa – Three Shadows Guy Delisle – Pyongyang: a Journey in North Korea ((Louie here – I can’t recommend this comic highly enough for anyone of any age)) Guy Delisle – Shenzhen Guy Delisle – Lynda Barry – What it is Sylvia van Ommen – Sweets Manga Shakespeare EDIT:  Two I just remembered, by a comics team known as Metaphrog… the Louis books. Louis – Red Letter Day and Louis – Night Salad. Surreal and rather sad, great reads. EDIT: Here’s a great new kid-friendly webcomic, ASTRODOG: EDIT: Massive thanks to Pete Taylor of the Swansea Comics Collective for this list based on his daughters’ reading habits.

10 to 13 years What they’re reading now (13 year old) Sakura Hime (Manga) Vampire Knight (Manga) Marvel’s Wizard of Oz adaptations (Skottie Young) The Walking Dead (Image comics) (11 year old) Adventure Time (KaBoom!) Peanuts (KaBoom!) Mamotte Lollipop (Del Rey) Madoka Magica (Yen Press) Ai Yori Aoshi (Tokyo Pop) They both devour and adore: The Far Side Calvin & Hobbes It’s difficult staying on top of the Manga and making sure it’s age appropriate. I try to read some of each and the girls will still tell me what’s ‘old’ about it, mostly mild language & occasional nudity. [NOTE from Louie: would anyone like to do a guest post on kid-friendly manga?] 7-10 years Previous favourites Bone! (Scholastic) – Huge favourite Little Nemo in Slumberland (Winsor McKay) Polly and the Pirates (Oni Press) Courtney Crumrin (oni Press) The Courageous Princess (Rod Espinosa, Antarctic Press) – This was a BIG favourite of Daisy’s, reread a lot. The Powerpuff Girls (DC Comics) – Another big favourite and probably their first comic, they are falling apart they were read so many times Magic Trixie (Jill Thompson, Harper Trophy) The little Endless (Jill Thomson/Neil Gaiman, DC comics) Early Fantastic Four reprints (Lee/Kirby) – QUOTE FROM PETE’S DAUGHTER + PETE: “I like it when the Invisible Girl gets kidnapped” which was handy as she was kidnapped pretty much every issue! Batman: The Brave and The Bold (DC Comics) Sabrina The Teenage Witch (Archie Comics) – After her manga makover W.I.T.C.H. Scooby Doo (DC Comics) Ninja High School (Antartic Press) Cyborg 009 (Manga) Tsubasa (Manga) The Legend of Zelda (Manga) Pichi Pichi Pitch (Manga) The above are the ones they really enjoyed and collected. Other occasional reads included: Pokemon manga Simpsons/Futurama (Bongo Comics) Tiny Titans (DC Comics) Batman Adventures (DC Comics) Power Pack (Marvel Comics) Lockheed and the Pet Avengers (Marvel comics) Shanna The She Devil (Marvel comics) Herobear (Mike Kunkel) EDIT: Thanks to @PaulMHD for these recs on twitter… another shout out for Astronaut Academy, which I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t read myself. Must get on that. Oh screencap, you are the saviour of the lazy EDIT: after a call for more recs… This one’s a “I can’t believe I haven’t got this on here already” rec… unless it’s hiding very convincingly among the other titles… The very elegant and exciting…. The Rainbow Orchid by Garen Ewing For YA readers, this looks gorgeous. That’s Porcelain, a Gothic Fairy Tale by Benjamin Read, Chris Wildgoose,  Andre May, Alexa Rosa, Jim Campbell <– old school multi-creator comics with a separate letterer and everything. Have realized how many comics I’m reading these days with a single creator or maybe two.

From@AlixCoughlin on twitter…

“10yr old daughter loves them, can you add Calamity Jack and Rapunzels Revenge.” Also… “Amelia Rules, v American but good for girls”

———————- From the comments, Alex Frith’s thoughts. He is a man of comics and is wise. Also he writes excellent children’s books and comics: I agree with your comments about 2000AD material a) dating and b) containing a lot of visual overload, but I have to recommend Nemesis the Warlock, especially the Kevin O’Neill books, as continaing exactly the kind of anarchy that I embraced as a 7 year old. Also, if we’re being a bit off-kilter about defining comics, Maurice Sendak’s ‘In the Night Kitchen’ is amazing. Edward’s Gorey’s collected comics in ‘Amphigorey’ are good for 8+ Struwwelpeter aka Shock-Headed Peter for the strong-stomached 5+ Lewis Trondheim’s long-running Dungeons and Dragons spoof ‘Dungeon’ is awesome, but maybe for 10+ Can one still buy Raymond Briggs’ Fungus the Bogeyman and grumpy Father Christmas comics? Good for 6+, although quite wordy in places. Oh, and just to suck up, I loved Neill Cameron’s ‘Mo-Bot High’ from the DFC. Hope he gets to continue the story! See the comments for more recs. EDIT November 2013: There is another great list of comics for kids here: EDIT: early March 2014 Some more great suggestions from Tom Davies (via comments)

No Bryan Talbot on here – The Tale of One Bad Rat springs to mind, the Grandville books are also age appropriate and adventure-some. The Mouseguard series is very good and a bit Redwall-y. Finally, The Nausicaa series by Miyazaki. Definitie recommend for young readers.

EDIT March 25th 2014 Cory Doctorow just recommended this – it made his six year old daughter laugh so much he had to stop reading her the book before bed as it got her too hyper. That sounds amazing! I’m not sure if it’s out in the UK yet but I will be investigating. Do shout if any of you find it? The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza by James Kochalka (you can read about it here  on the Tor website and Cory D’s rec here)   EDIT: April 11th 2014 I just picked this up… really fun easy-to-read comic. I’d never heard of it before, stumbled upon it, and it is really fun. Like Wimpy Kid, only a proper comic. EDIT Wed 22nd Oct 2014: I just read something on the way to work that blew my tiny mind. Read it now. That is…. read: PILOT AND HUXLEY – Dan McGuinness, published by Scolastic in their Graphix line. It’s like Bill and Ted meets Beavis and Butthead via Adventure time… in another dimension. Utterly brilliant, suitable for all ages – sophisticated narrative and yet totally accessible. And funny. So very, very funny.

EDIT: Monday 20th July Thanks to @EddieRobson for bringing this upcoming Craig Thompson book to my attention…out this autumn. It looks amazing, and great to see him foraying into all-ages stuff.


Modern excuses (new cartoon)

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See also: Crowdourced Funding aka going round borrowing money off your mates and people you just met.

Cheltenham – feat. stories of lazer beam eyes, evil Wayne Rooneys and a tragic potato

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Yesterday I went to Cheltenham Literary Festival to do a do a workshop based on the Usborne Write Your Own Storybook. I also met some lovely new people, one of whom – Sarah McIntyre, illustrator and maker of comics for kids-  kindly took lots of pics. I have repaid her kindness by shamelessly posting them here. Here is my face with the Write Your own Storybook, and Usborne publicist Amy Dobson.

Photo by Sarah McIntyre

It was an amazing day, and the kids in the workshop wrote some completely off the wall bonkers & brilliant stories. After some warm ups involving character creation, setting description and how to make an exciting plot, we got stuck into writing stories about superheroes, using a page of the book, illustrated by the talented Katie Lovell, an Usborne illustrator who did the pics you can see on the cover above. But even before the super-topic came up, lots of people seemed keen to write about people (or animals) who shoot lazer beams out of their eyes. Zombies were immensely popular with most of the young writers, but there was also a strong anti-zombie camp.

One football-mad writer wrote about a good footballer (whose name escapes me, but I think was a famous footballer) rescuing a dog from an evil footballer called Rooney, who never ever washes, so smells absolutely disgusting. A few authors wrote pleasant stories about nice characters… but that was mostly the grownups who came with their children, but who joined in with gusto. I remember one very enjoyable story about a hive of superhero bees fighting evil wasps. I have it in for all wasps – they need to be stopped – so that story spoke to me on a profound, revenge-fantasy level.

Amy (Dobson, Usborne publicist) took pics of some of the stories as they came into being. Here’s the planning stage of one story:

Photo by Amy Dobson


Before my workshop, I went to see Steve Bell and Simon Hoggart’s talk about their lives as satirists. I’ve been a fan of Bell since I was a kid, and he didn’t disappoint. He gave some great insights into the Maggie’s farm-era, and Thatcher’s increasing loopiness. Hoggart talked about what it’s like to come up with 600 words or so every day about parliament – sometimes it’s a breeze (when Murdoch’s there explaining his sins and banging the table) but at others, it can be a real feat to make something funny out of hours and hours of discussion of minor legislation about Welsh road building. I took notes, with doodles. Sarah took a picture of them:

Photo by Sarah McIntyre

My favourite moment during the talk was when Bell stopped in the middle of a rant about Murdoch’s awfulness, did a double take, and asked the audience whether we thought it was ok to mouth off like that at an event sponsored by a News International paper (The Times sponsors Cheltenham). Oh, and he talked about his encounters with various PM’s and their reactions to his cartoons. Tony Blair didn’t say much more than “hello” (perhaps the best approach to a satirist), John Major complained about the underpants cartoons saying, “They are designed to destabilise me”. (I love the idea of destabilising underpants.) David Cameron keeps coming up to him and asking if he’s going to get rid of the condom. You can see my doodles of the destabilising underpants and Cameron’s durex-coated head:

Photo by Sarah McIntyre


At Cheltenham, there was a lovely Writer’s Room with free stuff – free stuff is excellent – which is where I met Sarah, and bonded over comics. Also, Alistair Darling was in there, sporting his amazing two-tone head. I’ll link to Sarah’s blog for that beauty…second pic down:

That’s a fine head

All in all it was an excellent day. Only sad I couldn’t stay to see more speakers. Oh, and, Sarah, I’ll certainly come along to the Comica meetup, that sounds amazing. All that talking about comics has given me a bit of a kick up the bum to get my web comic going. At the moment, it’s a few scrawls on pieces of paper, some more ideas, and a friend of my wife’s who knows how to build that kind of site.