Tagged: Comics conventions

Marc Alan Fishman: So How Do I Get My Kids Into Comics?

Last week I got a little hot and bothered over Dan DiDio and Jim Lee’s declaration that their holy trinity (and let’s assume all the rest of their ilk) were being introduced to would-be-suitors for the third time via the printed page. They sought to make the comic shop the first meeting point between the kiddos (you), and their heroes (you know, the ones with the muscles and tights). Simply put, it’s a cute idea but it’s pretty much impossible to pull off.

It leads me to this week, where my good friend (and real-life Wolverine) Todd asked me point blank: so how do I get my kids into comics? Well, bub, here’s my step-by-step guide:

  1. Let the TV, movies, or the Internet be that first touchpoint.

Let’s not split hairs here. It’s astoundingly simple to flip on a show, YouTube clip, or take the family to the matinee. Especially for pre-literate wee-ones. The screen is a part of their lives from birth unless you’re one of those holier-than-thou-hipster-parents who turn your noses to such savagery. You can’t shake a stick these days without hitting something comic related that will speak to your li’l lads or lasses. Ray gun to my maw? Teen Titans Go! is as great a place to start as any. Proof in point: My five-year old has been watching since the pilot aired, and still regularly calls me “Dude” because of it. When a show/clip/movie hits the mark, you’ve got the spark.

  1. Now, take that spark, and add some kindling

For me personally, it was stumbling over the Adam West Batman – more specifically the Dick Sprang inspired animated intro that truly made me pause and glue myself to the set – that would lead to my first foray into comicdom years later. Had I a time-machine I’d find that younger me and immediately take that newfound curiosity and stoke a fire with actual comics.

Much the same, I propose that when your wee-one has sunk their teeth into a character, it’s time to take their love to the page. If Teen Titans tipped their curiosity, introduce them to Tiny Titans. It’s just as funny, just as accessible, and widens the breadth of known commodities with aplomb. Or, take a horizontal swing from the Titans to their adult counterparts. The Justice League comes in a veritable rainbow of iterations – one is bound to suit the proclivities of your scions.

  1. Now, put those kids in a helicopter, and rise above the ground

A few movies or TV shows got them hooked. The comic (or related adapted kids books, etc.) hinted at a larger landscape. Now, with them invested… show them the world! The best part of the age in which we live now is the access afforded to anyone with an attention span. To like Teen Titans Go! is to like team action adventures. From that single precipice, you can leap across the aisle to Avengers or X-Men. Or, be bolder, and let your hellspawn into the realms of the smaller creator-owned fodder. I’d give a kid Molly Danger a hundred times out of ninety-nine versus anything Marvel or DC published. The key here is simple: A trip to the comic shop should come with an invitation to be curious.

Even if the words are above their pay-grade, comics have pictures for a reason. Give your kids the keys to a castle choked to the moats with possibilities. Now, all that’s left is to close the deal with a pair of key action items.

  1. Take your kids to A Comic Con

Be it big or small, a full weekender or just a day-trip, attending a comic con is a rite of passage every lover of pulp and paper should take in. In the real world, comic heroes may be mainstream but the books they hail from are still a niche market. They open up the realm of the fandom to innocent eyes. The very first time I went to the Wizard World Chicago show, it felt literally larger than life. In a convention hall bursting at the seams with comics, toys, cartoons, and anything else I could imagine, it was seeing thousands of like-minded ne’er-do-wells rifling through long boxes, and debating at panels that really stuck with me. To know that beyond those at my local shop, there existed a community gave me a sense of self that stoked the eventual fire to become a creator. Which leads me straight away to my last suggestion.

  1. Give them a piece of a paper, a pencil, and an assignment

“Now, you make me a comic!”

Let their mind run wild. There’s a visceral universe living and breathing behind the cookie crumbs and desire to play video games. For those you are trying to will into nerdery, I offer no better advice than to invite them to create. When a child becomes the owner of an idea, I believe it bonds them not only intrinsically to the notion itself but to the world from which it stems. Be it anime, a random cartoon, a specific action figure, Lego playset, or, yes, a comic book. Give them the task, and open the floodgates. Before too long, you’ll be taking them to the comic shop on the regular, you know… for reference.



John Ostrander’s Positions


Following Donald Trump’s election, comic artists Humberto Ramos and George Pérez have announced that henceforth they will not attend conventions in states that voted for Donald Trump. (You can read Humberto’s statement and George’s statement. Not to be wondered at, this has excited comments both pro and con on the Internet, much of it angry. Sadly, it has excited death threats on some of those who have sided with Humberto and George. Perhaps that is also not to be wondered at; it is the Internet, after all.

I’ve been considering my own response. I have one, of course, but I debated with myself as to whether or not I needed to make it public. I think both George and Humberto are perfectly capable or fighting their own battles without my help. However, given the times we live in and virulence of some of the reactions, how does one remain silent?

If I believe (and I do) that one needs to speak up in these cases, then I must as well… even though my position is somewhat mixed.

To begin with, I absolutely support Humberto and George in their decisions. It’s not petulance on their part. Both men are Hispanic; they feel that Trump’s words in his speeches and his actions since getting elected are threatening to them, to their families, to their friends, and to their communities. Both George and Humberto have taken pains to make it clear that their position is not directed at the United States or its citizens. As Humberto simply put it, “I know when I’m not welcome and I won’t expose myself to be offended or mistreated, there is no need.” I wouldn’t do that, either. Both men are men of honor and courage as well as great talent and skill. I admire them, I respect their decision, I support them.

All that said, I’m not joining the boycott. In every so-called “red state” there were plenty of people who also voted for Hillary Clinton – just as in the so-called “blue states” there were those who voted for Trump. In many cases, those states are more purple than red or blue. The fans I meet and greet may have been Clinton supporters or Trump supporters but at a Con they are my supporters, my fans. I can’t do a litmus test to see which side of the electoral spectrum they fit. For myself, I don’t want to punish possible Clinton supporters because the majority of voters in their state went all Trump-y.

So that’s why I hesitated to say anything. I don’t want to seem not to support Humberto and George but I don’t feel I can join in. To be fair, neither artist has asked anyone else to follow their lead. I can and should, support their position. I do.

Nor would I want anyone to misconstrue my words or my position as supporting Donald Trump’s election in any way. Based on what he has said heretofore and what he is currently doing as he looks to staff his Administration, I think he will be a disaster for this country. I am capable of not voting for a candidate but accepting their victory; no candidate has ever filled me with loathing and dread as Trump does. I fear for my country.

If we meet at a Con, let’s not talk politics. Let’s stay friends, if we can.

Is Marc Alan Fishman Throwing in the Towel?


It’s typically around this time of the year where I admit to you that I feel like giving up on comics. On reading them. On writing them. On drawing them. On attending the innumerous conventions. On being so far on the outskirts of the industry I want so badly to be right in the center of, it feels like the mountain between success and where I stand is nigh insurmountable. Truly from this vantage point, I can’t see even beyond the first plateau before reaching menacing storm clouds.

Why so glum, chum? Well, for starters… My own book, The Samurnauts: Curse of the Dreadnuts is just killing me. Between a full-time job, a plethora of freelance work, and two full-time children? My energy reserves around 11:30 begin to wane heavy. If I can ink a single figure in a night, I call it a victory. For those who play the home game, even know that Unshaven Matt Wright and I dedicate Friday nights to just Unshaven Work. But after we compare war stories of being husbands and fathers, after we go over what we did and didn’t catch on our DVRs (when we, you know, have time to even watch them), after we look at one another’s (lack of…) progress from the week before… well, we scribble, and scratch, and dream of the day the book is done.

Funnier still, we are all actually really wanting to start our next projects when this book finally gets done. Natch.

Beyond my personal book woes, comes the inevitable pangs of being far out of reach of the Mecca of comic-dom, the San Diego Comic Con. Unshaven Comics made one single attempt to get in, on a whim. We faintly heard the show-runners laughter booming from our south-suburban Chicago homes. To see the various postings, announcements, and general hilarity that spews forth from that geeky humanity bomb brings those deep seated resentments all indie creators must feel from time to time: Why not me?

And pair that with that that feeling where you’re elated for your fellow creators when they have a huge announcement (David Peterson’s Mouse Guard being greenlit for a movie, or knowing they’re filming Chris Burnham’s Officer Downe, or that Katie Cook is just minting mini mountains of money making work for Star Wars and some other properties she loves)… but then look back at your professional résumé and silently weep a bit. Natch.

It’s usually around this time I take stock of what all my little studio has accomplished. I look to the four complete Samurnaut books that have sold thousands of copies. I sift through memories of Baltimore, Charlotte, New York, Columbus, Kokomo, and Detroit. I bask in my Facebook Friendlist literally choked with true friends made solely because me and my two best friends decided to make comics and sell them. I inhale all of this slowly. Repeatedly. I squash those doubts, fears, regrets, and pains from my mind.

So we’re not in San Diego. Doesn’t mean we can’t do it next year. So Samurnauts isn’t minting us movie and merchandising deals. The first trade will be done in time, and ready for the public before the end of the year. Once that’s in our burly paws? Well, that’s when we can do more than dream. And when it comes to those jealous flashes from our friends and associates success; well, that’s met quickly with an old adage from the WWE locker room. “When those on top are over the most? Then it’s good for all of us.” The more comics continue to dominate TV schedules, movie releases, and merchandising meccas… the more demand there will be for more content. And so long as we believe that our content is worth the look? Well, we’ll be ready if someone ever does come a calling. And if they never do? Well I will still leave with thousands of fans, legendary friends, and a lifetime of memories.

With all that in mind? Consider the towel back on my shoulders. That’s the good part of being down. So long as you believe in yourself…

There’s always hope…

But for real, if Trump is elected, there’s no hope. Pack your things and meet me in Canada. FanExpo is great, aye?