A new Children’s Laureate.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the announcement for the new Children’s Laureate and am thrilled that the role has been accepted by children’s illustrator and writer Chris Riddell. Chris is an outspoken and dedicated supporter not only of children’s books, but also of school libraries and librarians and he used his acceptance […]

Comic genius.

As a children’s librarian I was often dismayed when parents asked “they only read comics, how can we stop them?”
WHAT?? Why would you want to? Comics are amazing!

As I kid I loved comics. I mean I really loved them. I read hundreds of books, but those were mainly from the library and so they were not my possessions. They were read, loved, and returned – but I owned comics. Actually, that’s only partially true – I hoarded them, bought them from jumble sales, swapped stuff for them, ran to the sweet shop for the next one. I had piles of them, huge and ever growing mounds of comics of all types. Oh how I looked forward to the Summer Special with its glossy cover and extra thick bumper set of stories.

Comics expanded my descriptive vocabulary massively – who knew I’d need words like scrunge, boink, splurge and spackle?! (Oh, but not in an Urban Dictionary sense, they are hell-bent on ruining some of my favourite comic-based words)
Why anyone would want to stop their child reading comics is beyond me. It’s all about words in context, and comics and all visual story-forms are a superb way to get people reading. They are especially good for people who might not feel that traditional books are for them. They are incredibly useful for anyone trying to learn another language, and I’ve seen teachers of EAL pupils have genuine “by George, he’s got it!” moments whilst using comics.

But enough with the educational reasons, I could prattle (another classic comic word there) for ages about the linguistic and literary importance of the comic construct… but the simple fact is that they are wonderful.

In a comic we are taken by the hand to a visual world that allows our imagination to expand way beyond its usual capabilities. We see things that we might not have conjured up without a bit of visual assistance, and yet there is still room for our own wild imaginations to add to the mix. That’s something that does not happen with a movie or a game, they’ve done all the thinking for us. Comics provide the reader with a jumping off point, and then we can tumble into the story at our own velocity.

I grew up on a steady diet of Buster (I was such a fan I even named my cat after this comic) The Beano and Whizzer and Chips
Then I wanted something a little more grown up and moved on to slavish devotion to the superb writing and illustrating in 2000AD. This lead to the inevitable move to graphic novels and then on to discovery of the genius of people like Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller.
I won’t lie to you – comics are a gateway drug. If you allow your kids to read comics it will lead to something stronger and they will get addicted. It’s just that simple.

I suggest you start them on something superbly written, deeply entertaining and rewarding – and I’m pitching for The Phoenix
If you haven’t heard of it yet, you are missing out. It really is the most wonderful creation by some of the best names in the business. It’s smart, funny and with genuine crossover appeal (if you are not nicking it to read before your kids I’ll eat my hat.) Both the website and the app are brilliant too as they add to the enjoyment between issues.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Monster Fun ahead of me.