What's appropriate for kids?

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Kazu
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What's appropriate for kids?

Post by Kazu » Sun Mar 21, 2004 9:03 pm

from Bolt City...

The coolest moment during the trip was while I was showing my friend Phil some Daisy Kutter pages, and some kids (probably 10-12 years old) stopped by to tell me it was good stuff. Heheh. I didn't think that the younger kids were my audience when I began this project, especially considering its subject matter (it plays mainly on the themes of unresolved relationships, revenge, and compulsive behavior), but I guess I have to start taking that into consideration. Of course, kids are just small people, and many of them are incredibly smart and wise, perhaps more so than a lot of us older kids, so I think it's best not to shelter them too much...

Geez, I'm going off on a tangent here. This is, after all, some very interesting subject matter. What do you all think? Should we be more careful in producing literature for younger audiences, or should we just let them in on what they're going to experience firsthand anyway? I know where I stand on all of this, and I infuse it into all my work, but what do you think?
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Clank
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Post by Clank » Sun Mar 21, 2004 9:23 pm

I think little kids should be sheltered a bit from knowledge about drugs and sex and stuff until they are mature enough to handle it. I knew about sex and slang for it when I was in first grade, thanks to my perverted little friends, but I don't think most kids should find out about it that early. I think maybe third or fourth grade.

An example is my aformentioned (TRIPLE WORD SCORE) perverted friend. His parents taught him about all that stuff when he was in kindergarten or maybe a little later. Now he is a serious pervert. He's still a nice kid and all, but he's a pervert. No doubt about it. I'm not saying that his perversion stem directly from that, but it could have contributed.

My parent didn't teach me about that stuff until... well, they never really did. I learned most of it from school and friends and such. I turned out just fine. I've only tried to take over the world twice. :P

Oh yeah, and I'm 14 now, in case you didn't know.

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Post by dan » Sun Mar 21, 2004 10:17 pm

I think that the stories put out by the members of this forum, are something that kids are able to understand. I'm sure that none of the stories in Flight: Vol I or Daisy Kutter are to the tune of say Grendel or Trencher. I beleive that we as story tellers should challenge the intellect of younger audiences so they ask questions and are able to understand complex situations.

It is also my beleif that "seedy" or "unacceptable" behavoir (I know this the age old argument) in a comics or graphic novels can be pulled off in a tasteful manner. A good example of this is a book by Neil Gaimen called Murder Mystery. Gread story with adult content, but it's the story that Gaimen makes the most promonent aspect of the book, not the bedraggled behavoir.

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Monk
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Post by Monk » Sun Mar 21, 2004 10:23 pm

Unless your new Daisy Kutter stuff is way more questionable than the work we normally see from you, Kazu, I don't think you have anything to worry about w.r.t. your own creation. Even your old James & the Giant Asshole stuff isn't all that racy in the grand scheme of things, in my opinion.

I am a big proponent of good parenting skills. Definition: allowing your children to watch HBO and R-rated movies while developing an honest and straightforward relationship with them. Maybe I'm weird, but I had pretty free reign and access to whatever I wanted when I was little but was always able to ask questions, and I feel like I'm a pretty well-rounded person.

It seems to me that there is a new wave of intelligent-but-historically-questionable material out there these days. Shrek: a children's movie with penis jokes in it. Homestar Runner: parents around the world tune in with their kids on Mondays to hear Strong Bad talk about crap and scoring with chicks. Penny Arcade: though they drop the f-bomb every five words what they have to offer is extremely intelligent and well-written, and I believe is generally kosher with most parents. Just a few examples.

Gently introducing mature subjects to children is a good thing if it's done in a good way. The earlier kids can understand and maturely cope with heady, adult stuff, the better they'll be able to deal with it when the time comes. I'll get off my soap box now ... :roll:
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Post by Kazu » Sun Mar 21, 2004 10:45 pm

Great replies, guys. Always impresses me how intelligent the people that hang out here tend to be... I agree with Monk about good parenting skills. My parents raised me that way, where I could basically do or see whatever I wanted, but they were there to make sure to guide me. I think they would have liked to have sheltered my siblings and me, but realized that they really couldn't. In fact, I think I tend to be a lot more conservative than my parents...

As for Daisy Kutter, there is nothing on the surface level that can be considered racy in any way, but the whole second half of the first chapter is dedicated to an intense poker match. It even shows you how to play Texas Hold 'Em! The thought that it can be seen as teaching kids to gamble has crossed my mind just a little (I just never thought they were the audience). It does show the very negative side of compulsive gambling, however, and I probably wouldn't be doing as bad as Pokemon. And of course, in the end, it really doesn't matter if people take it the wrong way since I only do what's best for the story...
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Post by Clio » Sun Mar 21, 2004 11:12 pm

I love reading about early education. I don't think I'd have any problems giving a kid the material anyone on this board produces... Daisy Kutter is great because it follows through the consequences of the character's actions, and thoughtfully explores them. I'd have a problem with mindless violence and downright crudeness but so long as a story is well thought out, anyone from 8-99 should be able to interpret them on his or her own levels.

I was also one of those kids who got to see any shows or movies I was interested in - and I'm glad my parents took me to them, because now when I look back I can try to understand why I felt the way I did and it shows some progression of thought (or so I'd like to believe). It's super interesting to see how a kid's consciousness forms because of what he or she is exposed to. Personally, I'd let a child watch anything so long as it isn't blatantly crude or violent for violence's sake. By letting them come into contact with larger sociological issues at an early age, they might be able to better understand why people will act in a certain way and respond to them more maturely.

Also, I find it interesting that a lot of "R" movies in the US are only rated 14A here in Canada. e.g. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. I don't think I've seen an "R" rating for an artsy/experimental/indie/historical drama/what-have-you film since Sunshine.
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Post by Finnegan » Mon Mar 22, 2004 12:00 am

I remember seeing an interview with Chuck Jones a while back. Someone asked him how he made his cartoons to be so successful with children. He kind of laughed off the question and replied something to the effect of:

"we just make the cartoons that WE want to see. We would never play down to children (i.e. patronize), because they are far too smart for that."

i've always considered that to be a wonderful philosophy. I think that when you cater to a specific audience group, you tend to sacrifice or compromise the true vision, and also somewhat alienate others who may otherwise enjoy the work. i hope that makes sense.


=BoB=

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Post by Mothos » Mon Mar 22, 2004 12:20 am

To shield a child from larger social issues can be a dangerous thing. To somewhat counter Clank's claim, the most sexually "deviant" (whatever that really means) people I have ever met were the ones that went through Catholic High School.

Even when I used to run a Pokemon League (it was a dark dark time in my life) the parents who would never let their kids have Poke-stuff and would steer their kids far away from my little social fun-group because it was evil, heathenistic toys... that kind of ignorance and sheltering creeps me right out!

I think there are some things that are never too early for kids to learn (tolerance, understanding, curiosity, wonder, thinking for themselves). Look at Dr. Seuss' 'The Lorax'(environmental issues), 'The Sneetches'(racism/classism) or 'the Butter Battle Book'(Nuclear disarmorment), all books for young (and obsolete) children with a positive moral message!

I'm with Finnegan(and Chuck), write for yourself. That's how I write, I just write for myself and see where that takes me, sometimes it's great for kids, sometimes I would be scared to let my Mother read what comes out of my head!

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Post by Stick » Mon Mar 22, 2004 6:04 am

i uh, fixed your double post, clio. (can you blame me? there's nothing going on here.. you guys are too well behaved.... :))



with regards to your post kazu, kids these days are alot more mature and basically can handle the stuff we would consider riskee if we were to see if we were the same age.


why? just look at the world we live in. things are very, very different compared to the way it was. Things like TV, radio, music, even comicbooks have played a big part in the way they're being shaped, even world events have played a major role in shaping them. whether or not its been for the better, that's not for me to say.

Finnegan has the right idea here. You should make the cartoons that you want to see. Cause lets face it, toning it down will seem like dumbing it down since they are much smarter than the rest of us. :P


i have no idea if this makes sense.

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Post by Clank » Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:01 am

Whoa. I agree 100% with Monk. I also agree with Kazu about parents letting you do or see whatever you want as long as they're guiding you. I had to ask you guys why Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was rated R because my parents wanted to know. There's an example of them guiding me.

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Post by Kazu » Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:15 am

Clank, it sounds like you have some really cool parents. You should count yourself lucky, and thank them. :D
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Post by Jason C-M » Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:25 am

Since i've got a two and a half year old daughter, I'm going to come at this from a slightly different perspective.

First, I'm talking about younger kids than most everyone else is,

Second, I'm on the side of shielding certain things. I don't want my daughter reading books w/ a lot of bloodshed, revenge, murder, gunfire, etc. And frankly, that doesn't leave much! I have shelves and shelves of comics, and I steer her away from the vast majority of it.

I wish there were more kid friendly comics, I wish what kid friendly comics there are made more money, and could afford higher production values. Artwise, my daughter's favorite book is Hellboy. She just loves the colors and the design sense. When I first brought it home she carried it around with her for days and didn't want to read any other books. But anymore I don't let her see it because the exploding people and guns and blood and stuff is upsetting to her. (When I first brought the book home she genuinely didn't seem to notice the violent panels over any other panels - she was only a little over a year old then.)

Some people hurt other people, even kill other people for fun. That's not a lesson I'm ready to have my daughter learn.

BUT - I will say how it's treated is a big deal. I think the Murder Mysteries book was an excellent example.

As comic creators, it's always interesting to see how our work is viewed differently. Material that's perfectly acceptable on network TV can be really upsetting to the same people when seen in comics.
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Post by Coheteboy » Mon Mar 22, 2004 12:17 pm

Kazu, it basically comes down to knowing what's good. And KIDS know exactly what's good. Sometimes we don't give them enough credit and group them in with the whole pokemon crowd, but they're far smarter than that. Your artwork is very appealing, Kazu, and it's no surprise that kids are going to connect instantly with what you have.

I don't think you have anything to worry about though. You tell stories that can be read at all ages. There's no sex, there's violence but it's always tasteful, and there's only few instances with dialogue. Just keep up the good work. Don't let Janet Jackson's boob take over!

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Post by househatke » Mon Mar 22, 2004 4:11 pm

I fall in close to Jason and Cohetboy. I have a little girl who is a year and a half old ...so she's not a big consumer of comics yet. Or movies or TV. She consumes graham crackers.

Anyway, watching over a child is a tremendous responsibility. They have a developing moral sense and that is what is important to protect. Content (though it should be looked at closely) takes a back seat to goodness and moral tone. That's why I think the movie Gladiator is far more appropriate for some kids than somehting like Friends would be. The "messages" and moral qualities are divergent. In Maximus we are shown a man who is reverent, strong, humble, self sacraficing and loyal to his family. The Friends guys, on the other hand, from everything I have seen, are self seeking characters who have taken little responsibility for their lives.

Of course these are different generas, but in any genera the rules still apply.

It's interesting that different mediums have different things to offer. Our family doesn't have a TV and I can't see us getting one. We have a DVD player on the computer and I am becoming a greater fan of movies, both old and new, all the time. I liken movies and television to books and magazines, respectively. A book, like a movie, is made with only content in mind -or, at least, the content must stand on it's own merits. Magazines and television, on the other hand, are vehicles for advertising. They have little to say but focus primarily on holding your attention long enough to see an advertisement. So as a rule they fall into pandering to the lowest common denominators. So television, falls into being either morally corrosive or, at best just a waste of time.

Now I realize that I'm applying gross generalizations here. How could I condemn a fine cartoon like the JUSTICE LEAGUE just because it's on TV and not the silver screen?

And comics? I visit the comics shops whenever I get the chance. The moral tone is bad, but quality is also lagging something aweful. Comics are worth saving, though.

Okay, a little decerning moral agent has just sat dowm on my lap, so I'm all done here.

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Post by marco » Mon Mar 22, 2004 4:12 pm

Kazu,
Its no surprise that your work appealed to the kids at the con, as i've said before my students love your work. As far as what we should be creating i think it comes down to personal preference. That being said, my preference right now is more all ages stuff, two years ago i could not get enough of james ellroy. if you've never read ellroy, he makes the nightly news look positive. i read so much of his work that the violence did not bother or shock me anymore, that's when it was time to stop. when i began to become callous to it.
i teach seventh graders who are so callous to violence,sex and negativity that they think this is how life is. these are the kids that need positive stories by talented people. I know alot of people believe that kids should have acess to the same things as adults as long as it is regulated, that this will help them grow up, that they will eventually be exposed to this stuff, so it might as well be from a responsible adult. most adults/parents don't want to work that hard.
more often than not kids will be exposed to adult material because no one is looking out for them and the material presents itself. these kids(my students) think that what they watch is a reflection of their life, they can relate to violence and sex (not love) better than anything else.
if i can help them see that there are alternatives to the choices the people around them make i will. maybe it will give them some hope, or at the very least a chance to escape their world for awhile.
we can go anywhere to find stuff that reflects the world we live, it'd be neat if we had more opportunites to visit worlds were dogs talk, rabbits teach their young and mice fly with jetpacks.
i'll get off my soapbox now.
-marco

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