What kind of comics can I share with a four-year-old?

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Meredith sent us a question about comic books — are there comics out there for kids that aren’t overly cartoony?

Comic Books I’m not the biggest comic book reader, but I have been reading the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season eight comics after being a long-time fan of the television show.

My four-year-old has expressed interest in the series, but I feel like the comics are a little over his head.

Have any comic enthusiasts found a few kid-friendly series? I’m not interested in cartoon comics, but would like something that’s fun to look at without being graphic or suggestive.

Comments on What kind of comics can I share with a four-year-old?

  1. I second Owly – a friend of mine’s kid got into that series around 4. Bonus, it has now words so your kid could “read” it himself. Another one with no words, just pictures is Yam. Amulet is a nice series, but you’d have to help read it I’m sure.

    Boom comics, if you decide to go the cartoon route has a ton (darkwing duck, duck tales, etc).

  2. Sorry if this double posts… my internet is being STUPID this morning.

    I’m a huge Captain Underpants fan. It’s a little… childish. But hilarious.

  3. “Owly”, as a PP mentioned, is fantastic and just right for a 4yo to read unassisted – there are even teaching guides available for the books because they’re so great for emerging readers and students whose first language isn’t English.

    “Bone” (Jeff Smith) is a very long (epic-length, really) and very good adventure tale that you could read together.

    “Scary Godmother” (Jill Thompson) might be a good choice as well – I can’t recall getting any single issues of that title but I know we’ve read a hardcover book of hers with our son. Jill Thompson’s work is generally pretty accessible for kids.

    “What’s Michael” is a Japanese title (translated into English for US sales) that is about a cat, and each book is a collection of shorter (2-4 pg) stories. Some of the stories lose a little in the translation if you’re not familiar with Japanese culture, and some are more adult oriented (not suggestive or violent, just over the heads of kids).

    Free Comic Book Day happened a few weeks back, but you might be able to find some copies of the books that were given away to check out short stories from several different series. Many of the books distributed for FCBD are geared toward the younger reader – maybe not as young as 4, but for early-elementary kids who are usually just getting into reading on their own.

    If you want to look at comic-book-style art, particularly like the BS8 books, you might want to check out collections by any artists you find intriguing, especially if your son is primarily looking at the illustrations and not really following the narrative. I believe Alex Ross has at least one collected book of cover art.

    Jon Muth, one of my all-time favorites, has even illustrated a couple of childrens’ books, and did the illustrations for the Caroline Kennedy poetry collection (collected works by other poets) for kids that came out a few years ago.

    Ask the gents and ladies at your local comic book shop, too – that’s really the best source for information since anybody working at a comic book shop loves the medium and usually has a lot of knowledge about what’s available. Even if they don’t carry a particular title, if you start a subscription with them they’ll usually order a copy of that title for you.

    My husband and I both love comics – he’s a long-time collector and an illustrator – and after I think about it for a while I may have more titles to suggest.

  4. Per the Free Comic Book Day post above, my son (3) got a Top Shelf Kids Club sampler… in addition to some mentioned above, there’s Johnny Boo, Upside Down, Pirate Penguin vs Ninja Chicken that we both enjoyed. Spider Man is also one we can appreciate together on different levels.

  5. Owly is fantastic, but has no words (if you want your child interested in reading). I strongly recommend Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, Jellaby by Kean Soo, Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson and Jeff Smith’s captivating Bone series. Also, the folks at your Local Comics Shop should be able to help you out. To find your nearest shop, visit http://comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-COMIC-BOOK.

    • Thanks for the Jellaby suggestion! My husband and I just ordered it on Amazon for our son once he’s older… but I think we’ll be reading it way before then for us!

  6. I know you said no “cartoons” but there is a GREAT comic version of the OZ books circulating right now. I believe they are on the second book, but the art is really fun and beautiful and the storis (as always) are fantastic!

    Marvel also has released comic versions of many of the “illustrated classics” like Jungle book and Treasure Island.

    They are a lot of fun too.

  7. There’s a lot of good news stuff out from Archie Comics right now. They have a gay character, and his appearances in the ‘Veronica’ series is a great way to introduce the concept of being gay if your little one doesn’t have any gay people in their immediate circle – or as a supplemental ‘gay is normal’ message. Really, the story on it is phenomenal. They also have a storybook graphic novel, will sarcastic twists on classic fairytales.

    Sonic the Hedgehog is also pretty good. It’s a great, kid friendly adventure comic, and you can buy back issues in chapbook-size archives that cost less than $8. This is also a plus if you share the love of vidja games with your children.

    • That’s really cool! I loved Betty and Veronica comics growing up. Mum got me hooked when I was in year 4 by bringing one home. The pictures really drew me in, but I needed to read to understand them.

  8. One of my favorite comic sites recently tackled a similar question:


    Granted, he was addressing “all-ages” comics and comics good for self-described “prudish” adults, but there’s a lot of overlap.

    The writing on his recommendations might be too advanced for a 4-year old, though. Still, he’s not the only comic-loving adult giving high praise to Disney’s “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck”.

  9. My OH grew up on Calvin and Hobbes and Sir Nobonk. I was never into comics as a kid, but mine will certainly be sharing these with their dad.

  10. Owly is the cutest comic EVER! It’s made for kids but I was readin I way before I ever had a baby. It’s in black and white and doesn’t have any words so even little kids can easily understand it on there own. Seriously, it’s beyond adorable. Totally worth checking out.

  11. ElfQuest, hands down. You don’t need to start off with the original books, because they are geared more PG-13, but Wendy and Richard Pini wrote/illustrated several books intended to introduce little ones into the EQ world.

    ElfQuest has been around for over 30 years now, so many EQ fans eventually introduce their children to the series eventually.

    The books Wendy and Richard wrote/illustrated was “A Gift of her Own,” and “Bedtime Stories,” both which are very safe for small readers.

    I honestly can’t recommend them enough!

  12. If you want to introduce your kid to familiar faces from DC and Marvel, I would suggest Tiny Titans and Hulk-Sized Mini-Hulks. Both me and my husband are huge comic book geeks and our three year old twins love both these titles.

  13. Check out the publisher ARCHAIA. Their book MOUSEGUARD has won an Eisner and is really beautiful and fun. They also have a few other books for children like their FRAGGLE ROCK line and a whole slew of other Henson books. 🙂

  14. I love the publisher Archaia comics. They publish a very beautiful series (and 8+ friendly) called Mouse Guard. I just picked up their Fraggle Rock series (yes, you read that right) which is all ages. Also they’ll be having more Jim Henson stuff. Check them out. 🙂

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