I love comic books and I think they can be adapted for children, but there is a line.
I grew up on all sorts of violent media: He-Man, Thundercats, Transformers, GI Joe… if I was watching it, someone was getting punched in the face. Of course, I also loved comic books (and still do), but adapting this sort of thing to a story book is tricky. The biggest stumbling block is that story books are generally the sort of thing that, for this particular age group, are a shared experience between parents and children, and it doesn’t need to be an uncomfortable experience.
GETTING IT WRONG:
Captain America, The First Avenger: The Great Escape
This novelization of the movie of the same name only encapsulates one scene – when Cap finds out that his best friend from home, Bucky, has been captured by the Nazis. (I know the ‘N’ word doesn’t get tossed around a lot in the movie, but that’s what they are… and, if you think about it, they’re sorta Super Nazis!) Just look at this page:
When I show this to people, they don’t even read the entire page before they look up and say, “This is ridiculous,” or “Is this real? Did you photoshop this?” Do you want to explain to your kid what a casualty list is? I think not. I love Captain America and he’s a great role model for kids (although fictional characters shouldn’t really be role models for kids), but this is going too far.
Star Wars: The Story of Darth Vader
Because the kids have got to learn about Darth Vader somehow, right? Better that it comes from you and they don’t pick it up on the streets. That way, when they have to confront Darth Vader in their daily lives, it’ll be in its proper context. Stuff like this:
Children’s literature needs more images like this. Remember kids, train yourself to let go of all that you fear to lose, or you’ll end up like THIS! THIS!!!
GETTING IT RIGHT:
DC Super Friends: Heroes United
Ah, here we go:
See, this is how it’s done – get together with Aqua Man and go tubing! Hooray!!
I’m not sensitive and I don’t have kids, but some of this stuff is too much. Often, I find that we insulate kids too much from experiences that would help them grow (modern playgrounds are a good example of this), but the fall of Anakin Skywalker probably doesn’t need to get added to the story book shelf.