How Frequently Should Kids’ Comics Appear?

An online friend asked me for some information recently, and it spurred this post. She was seeking recommendations on comics for kids, but she wanted monthly periodicals, which pretty much limited her to superheroes or Archie comics. (Actually, I recommended several of Boom!’s licensed titles, especially The Muppet Show and Toy Story, but her audience had a preference, it seems, for superheroes.) We were bemoaning the lack of information available on DC and Marvel kids’ titles for the library market, when I realized I’d never taken into account the attention span of the younger set when previously talking about how many great kids’ comics are out there.

Some of my all-time favorite comics are graphic novel series for kids, such as Owly or Amelia Rules!, but I’m an adult, and waiting anywhere from six months to two years for a new installment is nothing for me. I’m not sure kids have that much patience. When an original series like Amulet puts out a book every year, are kids still interested? Or does it depend on how old they are?

It would be nice if the publisher could fund the creator long enough for them to get some material under their belt and release every season (three months) or so, but I certainly understand that there’s a lot of potential for bad consequences under that method. Publishers don’t have that kind of money to float in many cases these days, and they want to know that the author’s work has an audience before laying out too much in advance.

Some great series have adopted different strategies to put out more than one book a year. Frankie Pickle, for example, is illustrated text with just a few comic sequences. Lunch Lady has sketchier art (although I shouldn’t assume that a minimal style means less work involved), as do Babymouse and Johnny Boo. Toon Books has gone the opposite direction, with substantial hardcovers that hold up to rereading while waiting for another title in the series. Also, all of their stories stand alone.

Not having any kids around to ask, I turn to my readers. I know many of you share comics with young ones, either professionally (such as in libraries) or personally (children, nieces, nephews). Do they prefer monthly comics to annual? Or do they pick comics based on their content alone?

17 Responses to “How Frequently Should Kids’ Comics Appear?”

  1. Mike Bullock Says:

    Most of the kids I encounter through my workshops and personal life prefer a complete story and don’t seem to care if it’s one single issue, an entire story arc in six issues or a trade/graphic novel. Hence putting out Lions, Tigers and Bears in four issue minis containing a complete story. Which, of course, changes with volume III (coming next January) that we’re putting out as a 100+ page graphic novel.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    We just have trade/graphic novels for the kids. For something with cliff hangers that’s obviously being continued, like Amulet, kids will constantly bug us for the next one, even when it’s another year before it’s being published! For other series, like Babymouse or Lunch Lady, they’ll just come up and ask “are there any more”, they don’t seem interested in reading in sequence. I only have individual issues in the teen area – they’re too flimsy for regular library use.

    Oh, and for Lions Tigers and Bears – because it has a complete story, the kids don’t often ask for a sequel – but they’re very happy when more stories show up!

  3. Scott Cederlund Says:

    The wait doesn’t seem to matter to my son. He waited 6 months for the last colored Bone collection but he also enjoys his monthly subscription to Marvel Super Heroes.

  4. David Oakes Says:

    My kids go with me every Wednesday to the comic shop, and are pleasently surprised on the two out of five weeks when all the kid’s titles come out.

    But they also go to the library at least once a week as well. And all three check out at least one “comic book” each. (Quotations because the middle child has gravitated towards Far Side collections.) If there is something new, they are all for it. But they check out the same Showcases, Diana Prince collections, and Marvel Adventures trades over and over and over, willingly rereading them even more than I did as a child.

    So yeah, monthly is great, but even at best, it’s still not enough. As a parent, I suggest finding a library with a large TPB collection, and starting them in 1965. Hopefully it will provide a maintainance dose util the new stuff comes along.

  5. Thad Says:

    You know, I’ve been meaning to check out the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic and wondering if there are trades — a glance at Amazon says there are. I’ve heard nothing but good things. The Roger Langridge/Chris Samnee Thor is pretty great too, from the issue I’ve read.

    Seconding David Oakes on “start them in 1965″ — I absolutely love the Marvel Masterworks. But even they have the problem of not coming out frequently enough — I’m still waiting on the next Romita Spider-Man paperback. Course, there are plenty of other books from that era to keep you busy in the meantime.

    I don’t have kids but it hasn’t been THAT long since I was one; I remember we’d devour anything in comics form from the school library, even if it was terrible (Garfield, Family Circus, …). Kids today are spoilt with their Bone.

    Don’t suppose that really goes too far toward answering your question. But given the amount of time kids waited from one Harry Potter book to the next, a year might not be that long to young readers who’ve found something they really enjoy.

  6. Johanna Says:

    No, that does answer it. I wanted to start a discussion just like this, about what kids were reading and enjoying in any kind of comic. I love hearing these stories!

  7. Prankster Says:

    For the record, Boom! is publishing an ongoing (I think) Incredibles title, so that would have fulfilled your requirement…

  8. Russell Lissau Says:

    My 8-year-old daughter reads Tiny Titans every month and gets the Babymouse books whenever they come out. She knows the Babymouse books don’t come out monthly, and I think it builds anticipation for her. Tiny Titans is never late, and she knows she can count on it each month.

    And of course she reads the kids books I write, whenver they come out. ;-)

  9. Kat Kan Says:

    I mostly have graphic novels in my school library. The kids read, reread, and reread again, they never seem to get tired of the books! I brought some of my DC kids’ comics and put them on the magazine rack last year, and the kids read those, too. I don’t think most of them really know about release schedules and that sort of thing, they just want to read good stories.

  10. AS Says:

    Don’t know if kids of today are that much different from what we were, so I’ll draw from my own childhood…

    But it was like what others here have said, it’s a matter of getting the whole story. If there are standalone stories it doesn’t matter how long the series in total is or how often it comes out or if they are read in sequence.
    It was great to find another Asterix or Luckly Luke album I hadn’t yet read, or Peanuts compilation, or Disney pocket book, but I definitely did not read any of those in order, I read them in whatever order I found them, because they were all standalone stories.
    I do think same goes for books like Owly: it doesn’t really matter how often the books come out, they are all standalone books.

    For continuing stories with cliffhangers I think weekly titles are a good thing. Waiting for a month already sucks.

    Oh, and we did reread what we had a lot. Several titles from my childhood I must have read literally dozens of times…

    It became different as a teenager, then I could already deal with comics progressing like Claremont’s X-Men, or probably with Harry Potter had it existed in my childhood.
    But to be fair, as an adult I still do enjoy standalone stories and have a tendency to read series out of order…

  11. Merideth Says:

    As a youth/teen librarian and mom of a 9 year old, I think it depends.

    My daughter really enjoyed Bone, and part of that I think is because she got to read it all at once.

    However, she has asked me every month for the last year if the new Amulet is out yet.

    I think it depends on the age of the child and how invested they are in the story.

    Also, the good thing about collected editions and kids is even if the audience “ages out” and aren’t interested in the series anymore, there are always kids behind them that are looking for “new” comics. I see this a lot with the Pokemon collections in my library — the kids who started the fad are young adults now, but another generation of kids behind them still check out the books.

  12. Chad Says:

    I’d say that my 6-year-old just goes for content and doesn’t care about format.

    I mostly buy him monthlies, though, as I think they’re just more convenient for a kid his age (and I’m sure at least part of that is my own prejudice in favor of what was pretty much the only comic format around when I was a kid).

    Plus, he likes to do the puzzles and the cut-out activities in his favorite (now sadly cancelled) comic, Super Friends, which somehow seems easier to do when that comic is in periodical form, especially the cut-out stuff.

    I give him (and his sister) comics on a pretty random schedule, with some older stuff mixed in here and there, so I’m not even sure they know that the comics are monthly. Dunno how I’d handle my kids knowing that a new comic was out and wanting it. Even just giving them the occasional comic, they already have what seems to me to be a plenty healthy stack, and we’re already drowning in my own pop-culture obsessions — no need to add too much to the pile.

  13. Michael May Says:

    I stopped buying single issues and began trade-waiting, which forced my 8-year-old son to do the same. He doesn’t seem to mind at all though.

    If we’re waiting for a new collection or volume from a favorite series, there are plenty of other series to explore in the meantime. There are so many great graphic novels for kids these days that there’s no need at all for them to go without new comics.

  14. Johanna Says:

    I hadn’t thought about rereading, that’s a great reminder. I wish I had more time to do that!

  15. Anatole Wilson Says:

    My 6-year-old daughter looks (looked) forward to SuperFriends and Brave and Bold every month (she outgrew Tiny Titans and Owly, or at least says she does). As long as I can buy back issues of comics and collections, the frequency isn’t that important to her. However, I can only assume that out of sight out of mind, so a comic that doesn’t come out regularly won’t keep her long-term interest. My teen nieces, for whom I also supply comics, seem to prefer graphic novels to periodicals. The 15-year-old collects manga series, (would that be a cross between a periodical and a graphic novel?), while the 17- year-old prefers self-contained graphic novels.

  16. Tracy Says:

    The kids I know at our school are impatient. They hated waiting for the color Bone issues to come out. I brought the big honkin’ b&w that has the whole story and they instantly made a list of who was next to read it. I haven’t seen it in over a year.
    It seems like the younger kids (K-2) like the periodicals because they’re shorter and the pages are larger. The older kids (3rd grade and up) seem to prefer a “book” format, especially the girls.
    For some reason, the cover of Raina Telgemeir’s “Smile” really appeals to tween girls. They actually fight over it without knowing what the story is about!

  17. Rivkah Says:

    My 5-year-old nieces definitely prefer shorter, self-contained stories, but I think that has most to do with their age; their attention span only goes for so long. I imagine, however, they would get VERY impatient having to read short installments that didn’t have small well-defined story arcs with a clear beginning, middle, and end. They don’t do well with stories longer than 40 pages or so.

    That being said, I started reading “The Wizard of Oz” to them the last time they visited, and they eagerly pointed and exclaimed, “Next one!” whenever I’d come to the end of a chapter. If you haven’t read the books, each chapter has a very clear self-contained story while also containing a longer plot. I think it’s an interesting in-between for them and possibly why books like “The Wizard of Oz” do well with younger readers.

    However, I did have to recap a little from the previous day’s reading when starting the next day’s. I think expecting 5-year olds to keep up with a plot with month-long waits inbetween would be asking a bit much. >_>;




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