WELCOME to KinderComics, a blog at the intersection of comics studies, childhood studies, and children's publishing.
Essentially, KinderComics will offer comics criticism and children's culture criticism. It will feature reviews and commentary centered on children's and young adult comics and picture books, children and young adults as readers, fans, and makers of comics, and depictions of childhood, adolescence, and coming of age in comics. Its content will consist mostly of brief reviews of recent graphic books, comic magazines, picture books, and other visual texts aimed at or depicting young people—but we will also include other things, such as longer essays, commentary, interviews, and link posts.
This blog is mainly the work of comics scholar Charles Hatfield, or See Hatfield—that's me.* It's a sequel of sorts to a column of mine that never quite jelled at The Comics Journal between 2011 and 2013 (if you're curious, see reviews here, here, here, and here). At the heart of KinderComics is my enthusiasm for comics and picture books as art forms, and my critical interest in the ongoing reception, or cultural construction, of comics as a medium "for" children. You may notice that I'm somewhat skeptical about certain topics that come up often in discussions of children's comics, including reading levels, developmental theory, and formal educational uses of comics. I don't mean to reject these topics outright—they are important—but I do tend to view them critically. I will be glad to learn from readers when I make mistakes about, or too quickly dismiss, these topics (or any topics!). At bottom, I'm less concerned about work that is prescribed to children because it is supposed to be "good for them," more concerned with work that I think is actually good.
Overall, I'm drawn to comics as a form of art and of text with its own traditions and aesthetics. I enjoy practicing the art of reviewing, and KinderComics is the place where I can share my thoughts about the part of my comics reading life that most directly concerns children and childhood. I hope I'll be able to post here once or twice monthly—and I plan to run a series of posts over the summer that will help me brainstorm and prep for my fall course "Comics, Childhood, and Children’s Comics."
If you love comics and take children's texts seriously, I hope KinderComics will be right up your alley. Again, welcome!
BTW, you can find (pretty much) this same introduction on our About page.
*Charles Hatfield is Professor of English at California State University, Northridge, the author or co-editor of four books in Comics Studies, curator of Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby (CSUN Art Galleries, 2015), and founding President of the Comics Studies Society. He has published essays on children's comics in the Children's Literature Association Quarterly, The Lion and the Unicorn, and ImageTexT and chapters in Keywords for Children's Literature (ed. Nel and Paul, NYU, 2011) and The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature (ed. Mickenberg and Vallone, Oxford, 2011). He currently serves on the Children's Literature Association Book Award committee.