Monday, April 8, 2013

That First Special Comic; or How to Get Your Niece in Trouble and Feel Good About It.

You can probably tell from the title that you won't be getting normal weekly reviews today. I was away this weekend and barely had time to start the stack. But I had something wonderful said to me over the weekend, and it's a little anecdote I wanted to share, since it really says something about why I write what I write, and why I love comic so much.

This past weekend, my wife and I went out to visit her family, specifically her mother and stepfather, and her brother, his wife, and their two daughters. The eldest of my nieces is eight now, and is smart as a whip. She's a great kid, very sweet, loves stories, but she hadn't ever really gotten into comics. I'd given her some Scooby Doo and some Tiny Titans, and while she looked at them, they'd never been able to capture her interest.

Well, this past Christmas I decided to make one last ditch effort to get her to enjoy graphic literature. I poured over the shelves at the comic shop, and I came out with two books. The first was Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson, the story of a little girl witch and her baby sister. Being the big sister of a rambunctious little sister, I thought this might speak to my niece. The other book was the first volume of Jeff Smith's Bone, Out From Boneville. I adore Bone, and I think it's one of the best books to introduce comics to young readers, because as an adult you can share in the experience, and appreciate just how great the story is yourself.

On Christmas Eve, my wife and I gave the girls their presents, and while my three year old younger niece banged around with whatever toy she could get her hands on, as is her way, it seemed like my niece was pretty interested in the books I had given her. She asked me to read one to her, so I sat down, and opened the Bone volume, and I read her the first two issues collected therein. My niece loves when I make up stories for her, usually involve preposterously amusing anthropomorphic animals of my own creation, like Ally Kazzam the magic bunny or Felix the secret agent cat. Bone was the first story I'd read her that drew her in the same way. I gave all the characters voices and did the whole deal. After I finished those two issues she wanted to hear more, but we had to go to dinner and that was that. When we saw the family again in February, neither of the books were mentioned, and while I had hoped she would come begging me to get her the next volume, I wasn't heartbroken that it hadn't happened.

But this weekend, while tromping through the land my brother-in-law is clearing out to turn into gardens and a greenhouse with him, my niece, and my wife, she told me that she had read Magic Trixie three times, and that she loved Bone sooooo much. She loved it so much, her dad said to me, that he had to take away her comic for a bit last week so she would stop reading it and do her homework. My wife and I smiled at each other, since we had both had the same thing done to us when we were kids, and I personally remember reading my share of books and comics under the covers at night with a flashlight after bedtime.

I'll never be one to encourage the dereliction of proper homework duties, but hearing this warmed my heart. If my niece never loved a comic, I wouldn't have cared, but this was something I could share with her. I can get her more Bone trades; we can share the adventure together. And I had opened her eyes to this whole new way of seeing stories. This is why I write this blog every week, so I can share that love with more than just one little girl who was so excited to tell her favorite uncle how much she loved the book he gave her. I hope that you all pick up a comic every now and then, and love it so much that you get in some trouble for putting off work to read it; you see, those are the comics that I want to read too.

1 comment:

Lindsay Harris Friel said...

This warmed the cockles of my evil black heart.