Monday, May 3, 2010

Owly and Friends - FCBD

All that is bad in books for kids.

Without a doubt in my mind, this was the single worst book in this year's offerings for FCBD (Free Comic Book Day). It was so bad in fact that it provided me with the perfect example of what's wrong with the majority of comics being produced for kids these days. Lets begin with this book specifically. First off, who was the genius that had the brilliant idea of grabbing kids attention with a bright and colorful book of black and white illustrations? Seriously? Is there no one working at, Top Shelf, who has children of their own? Not one single person realized that black and white illustrations hold a child's attention span for about three nano-seconds?

And thanks for the stories with no words to accompany the illustrations. Again, nothing teaches a child to "read" like picture books. Duh...

My experience with this book went something like this.

Micah: "Who is that, Daddy?"

Me: "That's Owly, son."

Micah: "What's that, Daddy"

Me: "I'm not really sure. I think it might be a worm."

Micah: "A worm? What's he doing? Why? What's his name?

Me: "I don't know what his name is. I'm not sure what he's doing."

Micah: "Can we read, Toy Story, now?"

And enough of making books for kids made out of newspaper stock. I could care less about the collectible potential of the book, but how about the durability of it? Try throwing one of those books into a room with a couple of four year old boys and timing how long it lasts before shredding into a pile of confetti. Fragile paper stock does not hold up well in young hands still in the process of developing fine motor control.

It just shows the approach the industry is taking to comic books for kids. The efforts are perfunctory at best. The books are considered a throwaway product and they're manufactured as one. Kids comics are being produced to silence critics, not to engage and entertain young readers. The critics are right, comic books aren't being written with young people in mind. Kids comics don't produce movie deals. Why would anyone want to waste time, effort and resources in developing and producing them? In my opinion this is a complete lack of long term vision. If you don't get kids reading comics when they're young, what are the chances they'll pick them up when they're older whether the comics are available on an I-Pad or not.

Since the industry doesn't seem interested in researching and developing a well thought out product I'd like to take this opportunity to offer them a few tips. Maybe this will help create a more marketable product if nothing else.

1. Stop treating children as if they're mentally deficient and incapable of doing more with a comic book than sit in a corner and drool over it. (And no, this isn't permission to drop the f-bomb in every other sentence and take it upon yourselves to educate my child about the diversity of human sexuality.)

2. Stop making kids comic books out of newsprint paper stock. No parent is going to pay for a comic book that shreds to pieces in minutes. I pick up freebies at the front counter made from better paper stock. These are the books I give to my son and they take a beating and still hold together. That's right, your freebies are a better value than the crap you try to get me to buy for my youngster. Duh...

3. Treat kids like their comic book purchases matter just as much as their parents. If you try to palm off an inferior product on them they know it. You may fool them once, but the next time they spend their allowance money it won't be on one of your completely lame and boring books.

Owly and Friends was shiny on the outside and filled with nothing but second rate content on the inside. The book wasn't even worthy of the bird cage. The only purpose the book served was to insure I don't ever bother wasting any of my hard earned money on, Top Shelf, products.

(Thank goodness for FCBD so I didn't have to throw away good money to learn this lesson.)

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