What’s so cool about comics, you ask? In my opinion: pretty much everything. But the more I create comics, especially Marlin & Percy, the more I’m pleased to see the response they get from those who are new to reading.
I’ve seen it again and again, and it never gets old: kids who aren’t super into reading can be convinced to pick up a comic, usually because of the art inside (I mean, have you seen Tyler’s art? Who can blame them?!?). The picture side of comics is a major draw, especially if there’s lots of fun action going on inside. It’s a nice little bridge to disguise the fact that hey, that’s a book in your hands. It’s kind of like how when parents will feed infants something they might not like, they play the ‘airplane game’, or if you need to get your pet to take some medicine, you hide it in peanut butter.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to comics than that, and they can be a sophisticated form of literature on their own, but for new readers they provide a great gateway. The secret that all of us experienced readers know is that reading is a ton of fun, so more often than not, once kids start reading, they won’t want to quit. There’s an exchange along those lines in the upcoming Marlin & Percy novel, where Marlin is introducing Percy to read. It definitely takes some convincing, and a small amount of arguing as well, but Percy is quickly hooked!
I remember when I was a kid and my mom was teaching me to read, all I wanted to do was go outside and play with my friends. But then, as soon as I learned how to read, it was like a whole new world of possibility was unlocked, and it’s given me countless adventures over the years!
The tricky part is just getting people to realize how much they love stories, and comics are a great way to do that. That’s why the partnership between writer and artist is so important. With just words, new readers might not be as keen to get started, and with just pictures, there’s usually not much of a story…but put the two together? Now that is an unstoppable combination!