MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Oh Boy! Comics!
Hello all. Welcome back to my angry little corner of the interwebosphere. Last week I bitched and moaned about variant covers… and well, you all agreed with me. Thank you. Not that we’ll see that stop mind you, but at least I know I’m not alone when I scoff. I know everyone this week has the DCnU on the brain. But honestly? I’m tired of it. Some books are amazing (Action Comics, Animal Man), some are profoundly underwhelming (Justice League, JLI), and some defy all logic for being printed (Voodoo. I know it’s not out yet, but come on.). Six months from now, when 1/3 of these comics are poop-canned, will anyone be surprised? Nope. DC has never shied away from gimmicks. So enjoy the ride. But I digress. Instead of adding to the tidal wave of blather about DC this week, I want to talk about something far more important. I want to talk about my son.
This past Tuesday, September 13th, my wife and I got our 20-week ultrasound. Breaking tradition (we’re totally into SPOILER ALERTS) we decided to find out the sex of our baby. I can’t tell a lie (ok, I can, but for the sake of argument… I won’t.) – I wanted a boy. And right there, in blue and black, my little guy waved hi to me. It was an experience I’ll never forget. The fear, the joy, all of it combined in that little hospital room. My best friends (Matt of Unshaven Comics and his lovely wife, Amy) are two weeks ahead of Kathy and me. They found out last week they are having a boy too. Thus the scions of Unshaven Comics will be here in January/February of 2012. When they enter this world, there’s no way to escape it: comic books will be an integral part of their lives. The question is… what comics will be?
Growing up, my parents didn’t read to me. I don’t have a single memory of my parents sitting by my bedside reading Goodnight Moon. My folks aren’t readers, honestly. It’s never bothered me. I myself don’t consider reading all that much of a hobby. Every moment I’m awake I’m generally working. For my employer. For Unshaven Comics. For ComicMix. For my wife. For your wife. Confession time kids. The only time I read (and 99% of the time we’re talking comic books here) I’m on the can. Only an idiot like me would try to be double productive when I’m pooping. Why just defecate when I can be entertained at the same time?!
All this being said though, I’ve made it a point to myself to share the joy of the written word (and the drawn picture) with my son. The escapism, imagination, and craft of a good book, or good comic for that matter is something I want my son to enjoy as early in his life as possible. Not just cause his daddy loves it mind you… Because in this day and age where 140 characters has come to represent a complete thought, stopping to read even 20 pages of muscly guys punching other muscly guys is better than the ADD-riddled alternative. The TV, the computer, the cellphone? All have a place in my son’s life, but it’s not going to be the end-all-be-all for his entertainment needs.
So what’s my evil master plan? First and foremost, Daddy is gonna read Fishy 2.0 all of Unshaven Comics. I yearn for the day my son is on the playground and an exchange goes something like this:
Random snot-nosed other kid: Superman would beat the Hulk!
Lil’ Fishman: And Liberty’s Torch would beat Superman!!
Random snot-nosed other kid: Who’s that?
Lil’ Fishman: Just the coolest super-est hero that ever lived! Duh! (Little Fishy then proceeds to detail all he knows about his Dad’s super-hero creations. Soon, the entire elementary school is ready for The Samurnauts… and I’m a millionaire.)
All ego-stroking aside, when introducing my future son to comic books, the plan is simple: What Dad reads, the son shall read as well. As soon as possible, I want to introduce my son to great “all-ages” books like Tiny Titans (or essentially anything by Art and Franco) and a little Archie. As he grows up, I’ll open up my collection to him. If he’s receptive to it, I’ll proudly read just about any book I own with him.
Obviously I’ll turn on my parental V-chip to ensure the content is kid-appropriate. But one thing that I’m a huge proponent of is not shielding my eventual child from the world. I’ve never smoked a cigarette. Simply put, child rearing scares the hell out of me. Last night I read for an hour about baby poop, how to help a child say his first word, and how to look for warning signs if baby is gonna spray you when changing a diaper. But when it comes to entertaining my son, there’s no question. The entire world of comic books is open to him. I’ll start small, and simple, and slowly introduce him to all the great genres – be it superhero, western, sci-fi, horror, love, fantasy, pulp, noir, and maybe even a little of all of it (i.e. GrimJack). Ultimately, my son will gain his own identity, and I know it’s my job then to nurture it, and let him find his own way. Even if he ends up liking the X-Men. God help me.
I’ve never been drunk. I’ve never taken an illegal drug. And my parents never once had to sit me down to explain any of it. I watched what I wanted to watch. I read what I wanted to read. And they were always quick to explain to me anything that was confusing or “adult.” I intend to do the same. Does that mean my son will read the Watchmen at 8? Probably not alone, but his dad will gladly read it with him. He’ll learn about history through the lens of fiction. It will create a curiosity about the world… and I can’t think of a better way to help my son learn, grow, and come into his own.
And when he turns 16, I’ll lend him The Pro. That outta’ keep him… interested.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
Sweet article, man. Like many who probably read this site, I’m a big proponent of the comics medium and the ways it can foster child literacy. So more power to you for getting your kid invested in comics, and also, you should continue to write about that experience. The art form could always use more defenders championing its literary merit.
And of course, congrats again on the little one.