What do kids read these days?

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gau dog
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What do kids read these days?

Post by gau dog » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:03 pm

Whenever I go to my local Borders, the manga section is always populated with young kids (around jr high/elementary) reading manga. Boys read action shounen manga, girls read the girly shoujo manga. The superhero stuff is rarely touched. The children's book section has toddlers and parents. Then I go to the comic strip/cartoon section and it's like a graveyard. Why is this so?

I often wonder what kids read these days, what do they like to read, and how much they can comprehend. Do kids understand, appreciate, and critique stories like adults do or are they satisfied with something simple? Often times we make stories to win our adult peer's approval, how can we be more certain of winning a child's approval?

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Nofret
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Post by Nofret » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:26 pm

I wish I had a kid, that I could observe the reading habit (almost like a little lab animal experiment, hehe).

Friends of mine have noticed also a huuuuge jump in manga reading. But, being the parents with the money, they also made them discover nice titles for young readers like Bone or Baby Sitters club.
Then again, the manga section is sooooo much bigger with so much variety and new discoveries to make every week...

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Nunumi
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Post by Nunumi » Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:34 pm

I don't really know what the new generation is into actually but what I am noticing as I'm slowing entering the adults realm is that we too often underestimate them O_o And they're probably getting bored because of this!

I think that's why they're more into that manga stuff now. Because even though it's for kids, these books have complicated twist, action, violence to some extend, love stories and so on...

At first you're like : "and that's for kids???" (obviously shocked) And after it goes: "...oh...and why not?"

Overprotecting is bad..... >___<

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jshamblin
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Post by jshamblin » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:12 am

I guess it depends on where you live and who kids are influenced by as well.

I'm in a small town in Georgia where little kids drive around in golf carts and talk about... Nascar?


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RentAHero
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Post by RentAHero » Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:23 am

I think also what a lot has to do with is the programs children watch on TV. Anime is popular, so when they go to the bookstore, they get manga. Also manga is around seven dollars, where the bigger superhero comics / grafic novels are usually 20. So mom might lean toward the manga.

I'm happy children are buying comics in any way shape or form. I remember the day when you'd be lucky to find one or two manga titles or grafic novels in a bookstore, now kids have hundreds to pick from.

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wendy w
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Post by wendy w » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:10 am

Manga's a lot cheaper in the uk as well.
You can buy a manga volume for £6-7 over here and looking at the other volumes I have range from £11-19 so I guess that is a big part of it.
Plus over here you have companies like Tokyopop doing in store events and giving away sampler books which is something I'm not aware of other publishers doing.
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gau dog
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Post by gau dog » Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:55 am

Pricing is a factor for purchasing but not for anyone who wants to pull a book off the bookshelf and start reading.

I'd spend the whole day spying on kids and what they read, but then I'd feel weird. I should set up a focus group, have them take a survey, and analyze what kids want... I'm beginning to sound like a marketing exec :? .
Overprotecting is bad..... >___<
Kids shouldn't be underestimated, but protecting a kid, especially if it's your kid, is understandable. They'll reach maturity in their own time.

Another strange thing I often get when people I do cartooning, they follow with "Do you do anime?" or "Is your style anime?". It is very nice to find more manga in the bookstore. It doesn't seem to make western comics any more popular though. It makes me rethink things a little.

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jdalton
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Post by jdalton » Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:46 am

Superhero comics are already as popular as they will ever get. That market is saturated. And anyways, most superhero comics are written for teenagers these days. I think kids still read comic strips. They might read more if there were more kid-friendly (well-written!) strips to choose from. There are only so many Calvin and Hobbes books, after all. And the Simpsons comics are popular as well. I know a lot of kids, but only a few of them read comics. I'll need to work on that...

Kids may not be able to fully critique why they prefer some books over others, but they definitely know what they like. Sometimes they'll really fall for a story that seems- to an adult- to be terribly shallow and unoriginal. Maybe this is because to a young person these ideas seem new and they aren't aware of the hundreds of other books (or whatever) that have tread the exact same path beforehand. I think you're probably much safer, though, to write a story that actually is original and interesting. Because I don't know how one would be able to predict which dull stories will turn out to be popular.

At least that's my current theory. Writing stories for children is really hard. I've tried it a few times and even when you ask them for a critique it's still hard to sort through what is successful and what is not. Heck, lots of adults have a hard time explaining accurately why they prefer some stories over others.
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kyubikitsy
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Post by kyubikitsy » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:24 pm

Sorry if I go slightly off tangent~

From the stance of someone who has grown up reading manga (long before it became popularized in the late 90's-early 00's), I think the draw has been the appeal of the art style and an engaging story to boot.

I feel that manga has become as large as it has because young girls are now getting in on the scene. The stories are usually well-written and the art is "pretty" to look at. As a graduate from an all-girl's school in the mid-90's, it was near impossible to engage a classmate in the world of comics (aside from Elfquest, for some odd reason?). Comics, then, were thought for little kids or boys.

When I returned to substitute teach a high school art class one day, I noticed that half the students were drawing anime-themed pieces and a good portion of them had anime-related paraphernalia. Only one or two were actually interested in "superhero" comics and none, as far as I could tell, were interested in indies stuff. (But then again, this is a very small school I'm talking about.)

I find that manga has sort of touched a mid-line in teenage girls where they can explore things like first love, sexual relations, gay themes, nudity, etc in a very unassuming and unpretensious way. I think kids nowadays are a lot more aware of the world around them and have a pretty big capacity for understanding. However, I think the question that remains is, just how deeply are they looking into these issues? My guess is that a number just read for enjoyment and take stories at face-value.

As for the future of comics (in America, at least), I think things are moving to the point where kids are now starting to move forward and explore new territory. As some have noted, the comic industry is starting to change and opening its doors to new styles and methods of story-telling, which is a wonderful thing for independant comics. However, I think that comics need to be marketed differently to reach our intended audiences.

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jdalton
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Post by jdalton » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:10 am

Not to go off topic at all (because I'd never do that! :wink: ), but what do people think about the art in comics written for under-13s? I have some ideas for stories I'd like to write, but I'm not sure my art style "looks" kid-oriented enough, even if I can get my writing to be. All the kids comics I can think of (and there aren't many recent ones to choose from) have a simpler, more cartoony drawing style. Is this a necessity?
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Mac McCool
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Post by Mac McCool » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:51 am

True, historically, most kids comics have had a cartoony style, but not all (I can think of several children's series in Europe that have a moderately realistic style, but the most successful commercially generally have a cuter or cartoony style). Ultimately, what seems to matter a lot in a style directed a young readers is great clarity.

Speaking of kids comics in the U.S., where were the big children's books publishers at this year's Comic-Con? Simon & Schuster's booth had no noticeable signage and had little to show, and Scholastic didn't even have a booth. In bookstores, comics by Scholastic and S&S are often really hard to find. Any insight?

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Renzo
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Post by Renzo » Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:06 pm

jdalton: I doubt it. Marvel has a line of comics aimed at 10-ish year olds (meaning more smash and less angst) that sport similar art styles and characters with their normal series. Save for the cover having a certain design, they seem indistinguishable from the usual comics, though production values may be lower (less gradients being thrown about).

And I've seen a fair share of children's books at the library. The art ranges from simple and cartoony to realistic and gritty, though they all possess some level of caricature.

'Course, it all depends on the kid, or more likely, the parent, really. Without recommendation, they tend to go with 'brand name' and trends or anything that looks similar. Hence why the cartoony books appear more prominent.

When it comes down to being age-appropriate, though, I think what you draw is more important than how you draw it. If a series like 100 Bullets was illustrated like Peanuts (er...), it doesn't make it any less intended for mature readers.

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goRaina
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Post by goRaina » Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:25 am

Mac McCool--> Scholastic applied too late for a booth. Several of their editors were there--and Jeff Smith and myself were selling our Scholastic titles from our own exhibitor space (and the Flight booth).

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goRaina
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Post by goRaina » Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:27 am

I've done a couple of seminars for kids over the past couple of months, and one of the first things I ask them is, "what comics do you guys like?"

The answers always start with Archie, Spiderman, and Simpsons comics.

I've talked to a couple of retailers who say that the Teen Titans comics are a big hit with kids, and Bone is doing very well in bookstores these days. There are others, but those are the ones I've heard mentioned repeatedly.

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Mac McCool
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Post by Mac McCool » Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:32 am

Thanks Raina! :D

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