5 comics great for getting children into reading
Published on: 29 September 2022
Author of the incredible Bunny vs Monkey series shares the impact comics can have on children's reading
Bunny Vs Monkey Machine Mayhem publishes October 6th
It’s often said that comic books/graphic novels (call them what you will) are a gateway to reading. And they are, they’re an incredible way to get reluctant children reading and enjoying books for the first time. But they’re also so much MORE than that. Comics are limitless playgrounds, brightly coloured adventures crammed with loveable characters, belly laughs, and the occasional glimmer of pathos. They’re fun because they’re so immediate, easy to dip in and out of, with stories just unhinged enough to catch the eye of even the most casual bystander. You see comics, the very best comics, plunge deep into the human psyche. Danger, loss, idiocy and valour, mingled together with fart jokes and cute squishy animals. Comics are a gateway not just into reading, but into whole new ways of seeing the world.
Here in the UK we neglected children’s comics during the 90s and into the 00s. A whole generation of kids missed out, who then grew up and didn’t know about the incredible world of comics to introduce their own children to them either. That’s changing now, however. It’s massively changing. Weekly comics like The Phoenix and The Beano have both been going strong for what seems like forever, and following on from the extraordinary success of titles like Dog Man, bookshops are heaving with new comic titles.
It’s such a joy to see how wonderfully excited children get when they’re shown how to draw their favourite characters (seriously, it cannot be emphasised enough how much they love this). Or how frantically they cheer and yell their own suggestions at comic making workshops. Children LOVE comics. And this feels like a really important cultural moment. We all get to watch this new Comics Renaissance happen in real time.
Here’s a list of comics which mean a lot to me or which I think would be a great place for children to start. It is, obviously, only a tiny list. There are a bazillion brilliant comics to discover.
1. Calvin And Hobbes (any book in the series)
Instrumental in a lot of comic artists’ development, Calvin and Hobbes mastered mixing cute with hilarious, and at times speaking directly into your soul.
2. Batpig by Rob Harrell
It is exactly as mad as it sounds. It’s about a pig superhero, and the jokes come thick and fast. Instantly loveable.
3. Super Dweeb by Jess Bradley
For slightly younger readers, but SO funny, with brilliantly bonkers stories.
4. Mega Robo Bros by Neill Cameron
It is a fantastic example of a comic which styles spot-on humour with epic action, and really makes you think too. For slightly older readers maybe.
5. Also worthy of note are some of the Disney graphic novels like Mickey’s Craziest Adventure or Mickey Et L’Ocean Perdu
They’re in french, but the artwork is absolutely extraordinary, and any comic reader could spend days just soaking it all in.