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The initiation continues!

I’ve written before about how I’m trying to indoctrinate my younger daughter into the world of comics. She used to paw through the Archie digests at the comics shoppe, she made me buy issue #1 of Marvel’s Wizard of Oz series (granted, Eric Shanower and Skottie Young were the creators, so it’s not like it was bad), and my lovely wife and I taught her the theme song of the old 1960s/1970s Spider-Man cartoon. And today it continued! She graduated to the next level at her swimming class, and could therefore pick a toy from the toy bin to take home. This is what she grabbed …

That’s right, nerdlings …


Norah Burgas: Her Nerd-Fu is STRONG!*

* Yes, I know ninjas aren’t necessarily completely confined to comics. But when was the last time you saw a ninja on Dancing With the Stars? Or in a George Clooney movie? Both of which, needless to say, would be greatly improved by a ninja or two.


First of all, your daughter is adorable.

Secondly, my 3 year old picked out a pack of these exact ninjas from our local thrift store this past weekend and they are now his favorite toys. We both have nerds in training.

But when was the last time you saw a ninja on Dancing With the Stars? Or in a George Clooney movie? Both of which, needless to say, would be greatly improved by a ninja or two.

With Marc Dacascos on this season of Dancing with the Stars, your theory may be put to the test. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they dressed him up as a ninja and put his martial arts skills on display.

Agreed that your daughter is awesome! But I’d NEVER want to initiate a kid into American superhero comics because sooner or later they’d become intrigued enough to try the NEW comics from Marvel and DC and see murder, rape, gore and sex galore.

I have a few nieces and I only recommend them youth and teen-oriented manga.

I’m always amazed that you ugly internet-schlubs can produce such cute kids.

Argo: That’s awesome. She has decided they’re BOTH bad guys, too, rejecting my idea that one could be the good guy and one could be the bad guy. I’m not sure who they’re going to fight with both of them being bad guys – right now they’re just fighting each other. It’s just like Secret Six! Without the, you know, gore.

Confound it, Ian. I don’t watch the show and just picked it because I thought it would be the absolute last place to find a ninja (after catching an episode of CSI in which two cast members were outed as “Star Trek” nerds, I can’t even say that CSI wouldn’t, or hasn’t, featured a ninja). But maybe its cool quotient will go up soon! (It probably needs it after Tom Delay’s turn dancing to “Wild Thing.” I saw five seconds of that and really didn’t need to.)

T.: Good point. I’ll steer her toward good, wholesome manga like Gantz!

sgt. pepper: Hey! I’m like a Greek god of gorgeousness! Really!

When I was 14, Gantz probably would have been my favorite series ever. Now my manga tastes run towards more sophisticated fare such as Berserk.

Awww. That’s so cute.

And Dancing with the Ninja Stars is my new favorite show.

Sweet, I’m initiating a 3-year old as well. She loves Tiny Titans and the occasional issue of Looney Tunes. She also loves Chris Giarusso’s Mini-Marvels, but sadly, they’re just not published as often as they used to.

My 4 year-old son has Spider-Man, Hulk, Superman, and Batman clothes, toys, and games. He’s seen a few super-hero cartoons and (a non-intense) part of Spider-Man 2. He has no interest in the comics. AAARGH!! HE’S JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE COUNTRY!!!!!

Your daughter is too cute with her evil ninjas. My daughter likes purple things and phones. I have to step up the indoctrination.

You’re right about George Clooney movies needing more ninjas. Syrininjana, maybe?

my 4-year-old daughter likes tiny titans and all the boom! disney books. she likes to look through the monthly listings at the back of the books where they have all the others on sale and say ‘got that, got it, got that, need that’ — already a collector. she loves going to the comic book store and grabbing her books off the shelf. She completely recognizes what’s appropriate (she nabbed chris g’s “g-man” — I didn’t even know it existed) — at least until it become clear I won’t buy her any of the candy they have (then it’s “I’m tired, let’s goooo…”)

Return of the Killer Tomatoes has both George Clooney and a ninja. At least, I think it does.

I took my 9 year old niece to the comic shop a couple weeks back. I gave her the option of picking out any title she wanted. I specifically gave her Betty and Veronica as choices.

She picked a Blackest Night tie-in.

I defy you to find one single thing ever that would not be improved by a ninja or two. If possible, I will have several at both my wedding and funeral.

I am waiting for the day when I begin the indoctrination of my currently 18 month old daughter. Where should I start?

Nathan: If she can walk, you can take her to the comic book store! Let her dig through the quarter boxes, which is what my daughter started doing about that age. Most places won’t care if she gets them all over the place, because they’re quarter boxes, after all. I mean, does it really matter if a copy of Youngblood gets a bit messed up?

Greg, just to make clear, I totally am down with the purchases you DID buy her like the Archie stuff and Wizard of Oz stuff. My qualms were just with the American superhero stuff. I think its currently just way too warped for a young mind.

The problem with your Gantz example is that with my nieces, I can easily steer them away from things like Gantz because it;s a totally self-contained universe. Just like if I show my niece a Hannah Montana movie, it doesn’t mean she’s now going to find Hostel or Saw III. And series like Gantz make clear from the beginning what their tone is going to be. With DC or Marvel series, however, the past tone of previous issues is no guarantee for tone of future issues. A book with no history of grauitous gore and rape and babies getting shot can suddenly throw in a dog devouring teenagers on panel out of the blue in a random issue. Not so with manga. And with DC or Marvel books, a book with a certain tone can end up crossing over into a book with a disgusting tone if editorial demands it. If I show my niece Yotsuba, Yotsuba will never have a crossover into Berserk or Gantz that requires her to buy those books to complete her story.

When I introduce them to manga, I simply show them the more wholesome genres, and I know if it starts out wholesome it will likely remain that way. And the chances of one of those series ever crossing over to Gantz is zero. With DC or Marvel, I can introduce them to a book with a writer I trust and that writer is forced down the line to cross over with a Geoff Johns or Winick or Robinson book, my niece purchases the other titles to complete her story and suddenly my little niece is reading about raped and burned corpses (Sue Dibny), arms getting ripped off bloodily (Infinite Crisis), supervillains roleplaying rape scenes for kicks (Dr. Light in Final Crisis), dogs devouring teens on panel (Teen Titans with Wonder Dog), teen prostitutes with AIDS…I’d rather not even risk getting her into any mainstream superhero book because I have no idea what she’ll find when she follows the story over to another book in the same universe.

I love this hobby of mine, but sadly I feel the “comics aren’t JUST for kids” over the past few decades have overdone it to the point that “comics aren’t for kids AT ALL.”

T., wow, you never stop, do ya?

But seriously, that’s like saying, don’t introduce your kid to *life on Earth*, ’cause later they’ll find pain, suffering, greed, cruely, muder, rape, etc…

And I suppose some people do feel that way, but we were all young and innocent once, and we manage to cope.

My 15 month old daughter (with enough science in her creation to make it a secret origin) has been attached to a Superman action figure since she was about 8 months old. We had a Batman and Superman side by side (my non-comic geek wife bought them for the TV room) and she kept going for Supes. Batman held no interest.

Then there’s the time she got into the comics at a year old and my wife has a picture of her sprawled on her back ‘reading’ Supergirl.

T.: I know you were fine with what I got her. I was joking, you know, about Gantz. I agree with you that it will be easier to get her into non-DC and Marvel stuff because of what you mentioned. I agree with Stefan that we shouldn’t completely shield her from “bad” things, and that’s what parenting is – finding a happy medium. My parents NEVER censored what I could read (to be honest, they probably didn’t know much about what I was reading), and they just trusted that their example would be good enough for me. I’d like to think it worked!

That’s a cute kid,Greg!

And kudos on your parenting skills. She’s already has nice taste. If she wants to know more about ninjas, how about showing her the awesomeness that is Dr. Mcninja?

As for superheroes, just buy her comics from the Marvel Adventure line. It’s impossible not to like those books

There are kid friendly marvel and dc books though, Marvel Adventures is actually pretty decent and Tiny Titans and other titles. At some point the kid is going to want something that is similar to their friends so shielding them won’t work for long anyway. And easily accessible manga/anime or whatever isn’t really the strongest stuff out there, I mean Pokemon and Dragonball Z is plotless garbage with unnecessary violence for the sake of fighting…makes the Smurfs look Shakespearian in comparison.

I introduced my nieces and nephews to comics (yes, superhero comics) when they were younger. Some like(d) ‘em more than others. My 18-year-old niece last year got hugely into “Watchmen,” and has now read other Alan Moore comics. (She also still loves Batgirl from years back when I got her “Batgirl: Year One,” which I maintain is one of the best superhero comics around for middle schoolers.) After reading online about Moore’s “Lost Girls,” she asked if she could borrow mine since she didn’t wanna drop $100 (or whatever the hell outrageous price it was). After we had a conversation about it and its contents, I did loan it to her.

Currently she reads “Detective” and “Secret Six.” It’s a little weird knowing that my niece is reading — and enjoying — the crazy sex of “Lost Girls” and the dark violence “Secret Six,” but then again, she’s an adult now (technically at least) and certainly capable of making her own judgments about such things. Part of our continuing maturing process as adults, I now realize, is learning to let go of the naivete we have about the kids in our lives as they come of age.

Dragonball Z is plotless garbage with unnecessary violence for the sake of fighting…

Dragonball Z is no more plotless than any of the superhero books you grew up with…actually has more plot than most of your faves I would wager.

As an avid reader of Dragonball Z and superhero comics, I’d say Dragonball Z is better written than 90% of superhero comics ever created.

Greg, I suggest giving Asterix a go, though maybe not just yet.

I was reading (and loving) Asterix long before I really started reading comics.

I agree with T. It’s not that DC characters aren’t good anymore, or that their comics aren’t well written or drawn. But there’s been a “throw in the shock value stuff at any time, anywhere”, philosophy there since 2004, and that just ruins it for me. I’m *very* glad I wasn’t following Teen Titans, for example, when the Wendy and Marvin thing happened; I would’ve been furious. But then, I’m pretty convinced that DC no longer cares about fans like us, but is focusing only on the ones who do get a thrill out of such stuff. Hey, it’s their right, but until I become convinced that things have changed -which probably will require a major change in their editorial- I’m not buying their comics. It’s not worth the risk.

Oh, and while I also agree that children have to learn about the truly frightening things of the real world, there’s a time and place for it. A comic that is (ostensibly) aimed at kids is not that place.

To switch back to a happier note: have you people noted how many of PBS’ educative cartoons have a “superhero” bent to them these days? I mean shows like Word Girl or Super Why! Heck, even Cyber Chase and Lunar Jim can be seen as ways to introduce them to “the nerd lifestyle.” ;) Word Girl is particularly good because you can watch it with your kids and enjoy it too- the humor is wonderful and the comics references are far too many to be coincidental.

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