Do you remember being a kid and going on holiday to France and marvelling at all the thousands of comics they had? Over the past few years I've been telling myself I must re-learn the French that I started at school; partly because it's always so embarrassing being British and arrogantly monolingual, but also because the French always seemed to have a whole other world of great comics just out of reach.
I seem to keep telling schoolteachers and anyone else who asks me about comics, that they are a great way to learn a new language, particularly as the pictures help you undersand the words, and the text is on the whole very basic and in manageable chunks. Deciding to practice what I preach, I got myself a French edition of Tintin in the Land of Black Gold (untouched), some Roman soldier historical comic (untouched), and a Smurfs (or 'Schtroumfs') adventure (which I got through in a few sittings).
All this I can now abandon as Cinebook are taking a good handful of titles each year and translating them into English. As I have made it part of my mission to find good kids comics and graphic novels (then get them to read them), I shall be working my way through the lot.
I've started with Lucky Luke (no.7 of 12 Lucky Luke volumes), by Morris and Goscinny (Asterix fame), originally published in 1971. Real enjoyable stuff with excellent animated artwork and plenty of jokes, I can't see any reason why other 8 to 12 year olds wouldn't be into this.
At a comics event sometime last year, Paul Gravett made the point that we have got it all so wrong -Why is it that in Britain we haven't worked out that it's a good idea to keep a book in print? Instead, every annual, whether it be Rupert, Beano, Smash! or whatever, has 2 months on the shelves at Christmas then gets relegated to oblivion with the rest of them? If I wanted to read or study David Law's wonderful early Dennis the Menace, I'd have to pay 30 or 40 quid on ebay for it (and that's if I could find it). In Europe they keep it all in print, and it's all there to buy new and enjoy.
And why can't I go into a regular comics shop and pick up Tintin and Asterix? There's certainly never anything else for kids in these awful places (Gosh! being the exception to the rule). I had to get my Lucky Luke off Amazon, and so god knows how anyone would ever stumble upon these books on the offchance.
Is it too much to ask for shops to accommodate for the next generation of readers? Believe me if I had the time, I'd run an amazing little shop with ALL of this material - and I'd have a little bakery in the back with a little hatch, and a narrow-gauge railway that would bring my customers through the woods, past the lake and ampitheatre (where The Sadies will be playing once a month), and through under the barn containing my printshop publishing set-up.....
Volunteer here! Come on, sign up!