Comics: Moose Kid Comics, a special guest post by Jamie Smart
A few days ago we heard the announcement of some exciting news in Brit comics, plans for creators to come together to see if they can take all the ideas and discussions many in the comics community here have had over the decline in kid’s comics in the UK from their once mighty selling days, and put some of those ideas into practise. It’s early days but we’re all pretty excited at the thought of some of the UK talent putting their own time into creating something new and something which is creator-lead, not designed by PR committees or rooms of various editing staff, but the creators who already know what many kids like in their comics, because they have created them, many of them have done workshops and school visits with kids and know first hand what they want. And despite sometimes gloomy claims that kids today don’t really find comics interesting, we know here and so do many of our artist friends, that when kids can get access to comics they love them as much as earlier generations did.
Jamie Smart, who seems to be able to move effortlessly from single panel gag cartoons to kid’s comics like the Dandy to the wonderfully weird adult humour of Corporate Skull, is one of the prime movers behind this attempt to build a creator-lead comic aimed at engaging younger readers (a subject we’re all keen on at the blog – giving kids a love of reading is a hugely important task, because a child engaged in reading will read for all of their life (and pass on that passion) and it opens so many doors to them, to their imagination, their sense of fun, education… And comics are such a wonderful way to engage young readers, so we asked Jamie if he could come on the blog to explain a little about Moose Kid Comics, the reasons for attempting it and what they hope to do – over to Jamie:
Moose Kid Comics came about as a reaction to dwindling sales of children’s comics here in the UK, specifically, original content comics. We still have publications like The Beano and The Phoenix providing brilliant characters and stories week in and week out, but their competition is largely licensed properties – Simpsons, Spongebob, Moshi, etc. Which are all great, but they’re riding on TV shows and merchandise, which means they can power ahead in sales. When the printed version of The Dandy folded last year, it felt like we were slowly losing our heritage.
So, in some small way, I wanted to get a group of artists together and just make brilliant comics, with really strong comedy characters. To not look at licensed comics as competition, but as a source of inspiration, as to what they’re doing right. And what they’re doing right, I think, is offering really developed, visually-exciting ideas which audiences can latch onto. I’d like to see characters that strong in more children’s comics, and for them to be creator-owned.
Competing as a print comic, at the moment, is a bit out of our league. We are coming at it from an idealistic point of view, not a business one, because I think perhaps some big, initial ideas from artists are more useful at the moment than being limited by the minefield of distribution. So, we’re focussing on creating an online issue zero of our comic, also available as a free download. To offer up an entertaining read filled with wonderful, brilliant artists all using the space to develop their own characters. There’s no pay, and no price on it. We’re not doing this for profit, we’re doing this to show what CAN be done.
When that is completed, we can start looking into Kickstarter style fundraisers to produce actual printed, future, issues, and pay artists wages. As well as that, we can use issue zero to take to publishers and investors, to show the talent who could be creating great kids comics, just given the chance.
At the moment, this is early stages. All I’m asking is for any interested comic artists to put their name in the hat, so to speak. Not to show us any specific ideas, it’s too early for that, but to email us a link to their website so we can have a look and see if it’s the right sort of stuff. No commitment required, just to get a feel for who is interested. There’s a definite aesthetic in mind for Moose Kid Comics, the wild hysteria of Ren And Stimpy, mashed with the brilliantly charming Adventure Time. If we can hit a mark that high, then this comic will be the surreal, insane children’s comic that I think we’ve been missing.
Anyone interested should email their website to moosekidcomics (at) gmail.com, or check out the website at http://www.moosekidcomics.com where the plan is outlined.