Because… well, you’ll see.
Tagged: Teen Titans Go!
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:
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
This year WonderCon was in L.A. for the first time. While we are fans of the Anaheim Conventions Center (and not just because they have the best ice cream), it was kind of exciting to try a new convention center out. It wasn’t bad, just a little confusing (as you’ll see in the video, we get lost). But we’re really happy it’s returning to Anaheim March 31 to April 2, 2017!
As you’ve probably seen in our videos over the last couple weeks, we got to meet a ton of really cool people — and don’t worry, we have more interviews to come, but this week you’ll get to see what else we did at the con, like the DC Rebirth press launch, the panels, and the shopping.
Justice League Unlimited was recently collected into a single Blu-Ray disc and, while I happen to own its on DVD – as well as literally everything else Bruce Timm and his menagerie created – it still stirred up a sense of unbreakable joy and nostalgia in me.
I use the term nostalgia in spite of the show itself being broadcast during my early to mid-twenties, mind you. I use it because we all know that nostalgia indicates that sentimental longing for a better time. And while we’re living in a veritable gilded age in terms of comics-to-TV live action adaptations, the animated realm is devoid of any direct counterpart to serious pulp storytelling. Sure Teen Titans Go! is on, and a handful of Marvel properties as well. But none of them hold a candle to Justice League. The absolute best episode of Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes – now over five years old – couldn’t shine the boot of the worst episode of any of Timm’s League.
I dare you to disagree.
What made the show so amazing, amongst countless reasons, would be its scope. With an unrivaled cast that built from the solid foundation of the holy trinity of DC (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, in that order), and then peppered in perfectly distilled amalgams of dozens upon dozens of characters, they truly communicated to the world at large what the DCU encompassed.
No other cartoon has come close to the depth of the presented roster of heroes and villains. Beyond the bench though – and trust me, we’re gonna hit on that in another column soon – the actual storylines we got to follow held sway as mature tales that balanced wide-eyed action with well-focused moral debates.
Take perhaps the Cadmus arc, wherein Superman ultimately learned the potent lesson that he may have adopted Earth as his home, but his home wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the sins of his past. This was, of course, a nuanced and layered issue. The secret projects erected in the name of self-defense came only after Supes had inadvertently become the pawn of Darkseid. While we comicsphiles might have given the Big Blue Boy Scout a pass for succumbing to the plot-of-the-week, we couldn’t have expected all people would share in our leniency.
To see episode after episode building the case for the world being all but backed into war with the heroes that swear to protect it… in the name of being proactive? Well, ain’t no episode of Pokemon that’s coming anywhere near that neighborhood. From the birth of Galatea (Power Girl, by way of cloning Supergirl), through to the tet-a-tet between Batman and Amanda Waller, Justice League Unlimited proved that cartoons could be more than a series of punches and CGI set-pieces. They could be compelling prose that live action movies and TV shows are still too afraid to touch. It helps when the networks just think cartoons are for kids, eh?
And what of the merging of Brainiac and Lex Luthor! What was first presented as a delightful nod to the villain tag teams of our pulp and paper (or perhaps the stop-motion, animatronic, special effect laden action films of Generation X), soon grew into an apologue on addiction. Beyond an excuse to let Flash say the words “Speed Force” without so much as a quip, the arc cemented Lex Luthor as somehow a more complex beast than our beloved Batman. Here was a man, self-made as the Dark Knight, given his ultimate prize; infinite knowledge and power. And when it was ripped away from him? We were given a long-running serialized epic as Lex chased what could only be described as the ultimate high. In the end, Luthor even saved humanity by offering Darkseid the Anti-Life Equation (oh, you didn’t know? Halliburton invented that). Simply brilliant.
So, yes, I long for the days where a Saturday morning cartoon could strike to tell the most complex stories in the lexicon of comic lore. While the world of today has Gotham, The Flash, Supergirl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Arrow, Teen Titans Go!, and Walking Dead…
my heart belongs to Bruce Timm’s Justice League. Because that, my friends, is how cartoons were meant to be made.
Teen Titans Go! is an animated TV show that follows the Teen Titans — Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven & Beast Boy — when they are not saving the world. They live in a T-shaped building (cool) together (so cool) as teenagers (OMG even cooler) without adult supervision (CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE!) It’s based on DC’s Teen Titans, so if you watch closely you’ll see some characters you might know. But you should watch because they have an episode where they just say “Waffles” and one where Robin has to house sit the Bat Cave. They also like to sing.
When we were at WonderCon, we had chance to talk with the show’s producers, Michael Jelenic and Aaron Harvath, as well as two of the voice actors, Scott Manville (Robin) and Greg Cipes (Beast Boy). Teen Titan Go! airs Tuesday night at 6/5c on Cartoon Network.
Last weekend, we totally geeked out at WonderCon Anaheim. So, in this week’s video we bring you the sights & sounds of our adventure. Stay tuned because there will be more to come in the next coming weeks. We kept busy over the three-days finding new comics, interviewing creators, shopping (lots of that), and people-watching. Soak in the experience and then stay tuned for more WCA action.