So I have always been fascinated by the idea of the Johnny DC line and its purpose: use characters that children have become familiar with through media saturation to get children in the habit of reading (buying) comics.
This summer I’ve been pretty adamant about making sure my nephew becomes proficiently literate. He’s been reading a hundred pages of prose daily. But when he ran out of books to read he asked to read my comics which presented its own little dilemma. Because some my comics, such as the Preacher books he was eyeing, are inappropriate for his age ground (he just turned 10) I thought It would be interesting to get him a Johnny DC book. Last week saw the publication of Tiny Titans #31, the critically lauded series by Art Baltazar and Franco. I purchased this book and read it with him.
I think it’s a strange little book. For instance there are various allusions to continuity such as Superboy complicated origin as a half-superman half-Lex luther clone:
Obviously this allusion is meant for adults but the book is thoroughly a children’s book. It doesn’t operate on two levels of signification that satisfies both a mature and child audience. I can’t imagine ever picking this up for my own enjoyment like let’s say, for example, classic children’s literature book the Little Prince. So I am left perplexed at the inclusion of these allusions.
Two really interesting things are worth nothing. While my nephew was reading the book he stopped to ask me if Match looked funny because in the “real comics” he was actually a super-villain. I confirmed his suspicious. I was surprised that my nephew understood, despite never reading DC comics, that there was a cannon and that this book feel outside of it. The second thing is that this book has a lot of gags but, as he was reading, not once did he laugh or even smirk. Yet, when we talked:
Uncle: What do you think of the Book?
Nephew: I liked it. It was so funny. My favorite Superhero was Superboy and Match.
Uncle: What the part did you think was the funniest?
Nephew: The one with the monkey going eep eep. And the hologram of Superman’s dad.
Uncle: Why was Superboy and Match your favorite?
Nephew: I liked Match because he wanted to eat Psimon because he thought he was a snow cone because of the snow glupe on top of his head. And superboy screamed at the Brainiac club. They were both really silly too.
Uncle: Were there parts of the story you didn’t understand.
Nephew: I didn’t get what happening with Psimon talking about surroundings.
Uncle: You have any questions?
Nephew: Why is it so short?
Uncle: I think because they don’t want to make it hard to read. Do you think you could read something that had more words?
Uncle: Anything else?
Nephew: What’s your website called?
Uncle: Read Rant.
Nephew: Read Rant? That’s a tongue twister.