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Ask Slashdot: Which Comic Books To Start My 3-Year-Old With? 372

JeepFanatic writes "I've never been one to read comic books, but I've always enjoyed superheroes. My 3-year-old son is really into superheroes (especially Spider-man) and I thought it would be a fun thing to do together to start reading comics to him. Any suggestions on comics that would be more appropriate to start him out with?"
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Ask Slashdot: Which Comic Books To Start My 3-Year-Old With?

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  • Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by busyqth ( 2566075 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:32PM (#39874027)

    My 3 yr old son is really into superheros (especially Spider-man)

    Well then how about Spider Man?

  • by mtmra70 ( 964928 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:32PM (#39874029)
    xkcd of course []
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Or Mandrake, for obvious reasons.

      He might be a bit young for Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, unfortunately.

  • Watchman, of course: []

  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:37PM (#39874079) Homepage Journal

    I've been reading collections of the first years of Spidey, the Fantastic Four, Green Lantern and such. They're probably fine for young'uns.

    But I'd also look into the Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic adventures. The Duckberg folks go on a lot of neat adventures. They have great stories, great artwork, and it will help show that there's more to comics than superheroes.

    Fantagraphics is producing a reprint series, and previous collections are readily available.

    • by XanC ( 644172 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:01PM (#39874323)

      Absolutely. Look for the ones by Carl Barks. It was an inspiration for Indiana Jones.

    • by pongo000 ( 97357 )

      But I'd also look into the Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic adventures.

      But probably not the adventures of Dolan.

    • by readin ( 838620 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:36PM (#39874563)
      I have to second this suggestion. Scrooge McDuck comics by Carl Barks are the best. Great stories, great artwork, great values (Scrooge is a tightwad, but he's a tightwad with a strong sense of honor). The adventures are often in far away places or even times and whet the appetite for more knowledge (I first learned of the Labarith, Harpies, the Minotaur, Hadrian's Wall, Kilts, the Klondike gold rush, Diamond mining in Africa, King Solomon's mines, the Greenwich Meridian and a lot of other things through Scrooge McDuck comics).

      Scrooge as a hero has a bit of a Spider-man quality to him. Spider-man doesn't want to be a hero and it is a failure on his part that makes him recognize his responsibility. Similarly, but with differences, it is not unusual for Scrooge to initially do the wrong thing in his quest for profit and then realize he has crossed a line and step back. When this happens he steps back willingly but usually not happily. This is an important lesson often left out of superhero comics books - doing the right thing isn't always easy - not because you have to fight others but because you have to go against your own wants.

      Another great lesson that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else is the idea of doing the right thing when no one else knows. Read "Back to the Klondike" if you can find it. I can think of one or two other stories where this lesson is explored (the movie "Hero" with Dustin Hoffman in 1992), but none do it with as much class.

      But do be careful which Scrooge McDuck comics you get. Some other authors have treated him badly and he isn't always the respectable character that Barks wrote.
  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:38PM (#39874087) Journal

    Just kidding!

    There used to be a Shazam! comic, (DC's Captain Marvel) that was oriented more towards young kids. I don't know if it still exists.

    Personally, I started my daughter, who was not much older than that, on Mage. If she didn't understand something, we stopped and talked about it. It's actually pretty amazing what kids can process.

    When she entered her teens, Matt Wagner had finally come out with Volume 2. Daughter was really excited and wanted me to read it to her. I was a little surprised that she had remembered the first story.

    • I'll ditto the Shazam recommendation. Captain Marvel appealed to a younger set, and his alter-ego was a young teen. (As were those of Captain Marvel Junior and Mary Marvel, or whatever her name was.)

      I bought a huge paperback compendium of "Shazam" comics a few years ago. B&W, but still good stories.

      • I'll ditto the Shazam recommendation. Captain Marvel appealed to a younger set, and his alter-ego was a young teen. (As were those of Captain Marvel Junior and Mary Marvel, or whatever her name was.)

        I bought a huge paperback compendium of "Shazam" comics a few years ago. B&W, but still good stories.

        Incidentally, have you been watching Young Justice? The setup is that a junior justice league is formed from all the sidekicks -- robin, aquaboy and so forth. (The story predates the coming of Starfire to earth and the forming of Teen Titans.)

        Captain Marvel is a recurring character. As portrayed in this series, he is a full member of JLA and considered an adult by the other JLA members, (sometimes asked to "babysit" the junior members) but his dirty little secret, apparently hidden from the other adults,

    • Incidentally, with Mage volume 1, I left out the part about the puppy.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      I was a little older than 3, but I loved [] as a pre-teen.
  • Owls (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've heard Owly is a great starter comic. It's about woodland critters, so appropriate. But there's no dialog, so he could flip through it by himself.

    • I was going to suggest this one as well. Great book.

      Online, you can show him "Zip and Lil' Bit" (, among others.
  • Caldecott (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:41PM (#39874115)

    I don't know about comic books per se

    But you can't go wrong with the ALA Caldecott winners and honorees. [] The ALA takes childrens books seriously so you can count on their recommendations to always be top notch. Many public libraries will even have a seperate display of caldecott winners to make it easier for parents to find them.

    • then you put in an ILL (Inter-Library Loan) request ... but typically, most libraries have a budget for getting requested books, and if they think the book will be of general interest (and c'mon, it's an award winning children's book), they'll just go and buy a copy.

      And if you're really set on comic books, ask if the children's librarian can make a recommendation. Even a small library (6-8 librarians) will typically have a dedicated children's librarian. (or just look through the 'E' section, and you'll f

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:43PM (#39874147)

    Kids that age don't need superheros running around biff bam zonking bad guys.

    Why not try Dora the Explorer or something.

  • None. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:43PM (#39874149) Journal

    Modern superhero comics are pretty much uniformly targeted at teen-to-adult age groups. In the quest to become more "edgy", the storylines are more violent and disturbing than ever before. This is not intended as a criticism... I likes me some edgy comics, and when I was college-aged supplemented my income doing lettering work on comic books... but don't be under any sort of illusion about the content the big labels are releasing. It's just not good material for someone as young as your son.

    Most kid's TV is also either completely inane/stupid/mind-rotting, or inappropriate for 3-year-olds. There are a few shows out there which are just fine for young kids and which have a goodly bit of intelligence, worthwhile stories, and a meaningful positive "message", but I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to discover them. (Hint: one of them is a huge Internet sensation right about now.)

  • Comics are great! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpasticMutant ( 748828 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:44PM (#39874163) Homepage
    I learned to read with comic books as a 3 year old, so these are perfect. Why not take him down to a comics store and let him choose a few for himself? He's 3. He'll spot what he likes immediately. You can then mix in a few of your old time favorites. Naturally these comics will form the basis of his over-idealized belief system, so be careful to balance it out with regular age appropriate reading material. Otherwise, you may see him jump off the roof one day, or try to pick up a car. If he starts swinging from the rafters, hold on - you've really got something there... My favorites were Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Superman, Archie (with Betty, Veronica, Jughead, etc.), and all the Justice League stuff. No wonder the world is so confusing to me now.
  • by allcoolnameswheretak ( 1102727 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:44PM (#39874165)

    Start here: []

    The sooner you start the Space Marine training the better.
    We wouldn't want to raise a xeno-loving, heretic girly-boy now, would we?

    For the Emperor

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:47PM (#39874193)

    In 2012, I don't think there are any. 55 years ago there were, but even then, it was more starting at age 6.

    Stick with "Hello, Moon", Dr. Seuss, etc.

    • by Gilmoure ( 18428 )

      There's also Goodnight Keith Moon []:

      In the great green room
      There was a telephone
      And a dead Keith Moon
      And a picture of
      Townshend jumping over the Moon

      Probably better to wait on this one.

  • Ghost in the Shell manga. You can find scans of the whole thing.

  • Pooh Bear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:53PM (#39874253)
    Try Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner -- read him A.A. Milne, with individual voices for Piglet, Pooh and all the others. You'll both have a ball. Keep him as far away from Walt Disney's insipid versions as you can.
  • Comic Sans?

    Calvin and Hobbes

    *haha, Nerd rage COMMENCE!

  • Let him be 3. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ( 246336 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:56PM (#39874289)

    He's 3. Don't try to turn him into you. Superhero comics aren't for 3-year-olds. Give him age-appropriate stuff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      um cept dad already stated that he is not into comic books and the kid is wild about spiderman, RTFS genius

  • by Modern ( 252880 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:59PM (#39874307)

    The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day. There are plenty of kid comic books out there and the Marvels and DC's even have young versions of the top titles/hero's. Here in Las Vegas, we have some great owners who are very helpful and any good store should be able to find out what the kid likes and suggest a few to start. Maximum Comics woo hoo. (selfless plug).

  • by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @07:59PM (#39874311) Journal

    Are any of the Disney Comics around? Scrooge McDuck with Hewy, Dewy, and Louie were an early face of mine. Also, what anout Richie Rich? There's also Impson comics but maybe notat 3 years old.

    With my daughter, I introduced her to collections of old Super Girl and Wonder Woman at 4 years old. She's now into Young Justice, Teen Titans, Girl Genius and Dr. Horrible/Firefly.

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:01PM (#39874327) Homepage Journal

    I've seen Teen Titans based on the cartoon instead of the original more mature version, I've seen other kid targeted comics but three is young. Go to the bookstore and get the age range targeted books, trust me there's no shortage of hero hosted educational and kid specific books. You may want to move on to Captain Underpants next until he's ready for the more mature titles. Remember, the Comics Code Authority is dead now and the comics are written accordingly.

  • Not really a superhero... but definitely aimed at kids. I still have all of my old Rupert books from when I was a kid, and I read them to my kids when they were little. They loved it.
  • by LordZardoz ( 155141 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:04PM (#39874359)

    Perhaps not perfect for a 3 year old, but worth looking at are Atomic Robo and Axe Cop.

    Atomic Robo is very much a 'child appropriate' comic. []

    Axe Cop is created by a 30 something year old cartoonist and written by his 6 year old brother. []


  • I grew up on Tintin.

  • Choose wisely. Children perceive the world in a more literal sense than adults. The daughter of a friend of mine had nightmares about not being able to put her arms down after reading a passage where Winnie the Pooh couldn't put his arms down for three days. (Or something like that.) There are plenty of stories where a small child dressed up like Superman has discovered he cannot fly after jumping off a ladder or bunk bed.
    I still recommend A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter carefully seasoned with Spide
  • Read him spiderman since he likes it

  • Mouse Guard (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sean_Inconsequential ( 1883900 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:14PM (#39874425)

    It isn't really superheros, but it may be something he could enjoy. I don't recall if there was anything that would be inappropriate for for someone of his age aside from a little bit of violence.

  • by urbanriot ( 924981 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:21PM (#39874477)
    I was a late bloomer, as far as reading went. I didn't feel the need as my intuitive rationale at the wee age of five was that it simply wasn't necessary; I can do what I want, function just fine without reading, so why waste time learning... ... then my mom brought home some comic books from the convenience store down the street, a Spider-Man and a Fantastic Four, and while I enjoyed the pictures, I really wanted to know what they were saying. The Fantastic Four had less exciting imagery yet an abundance of speech bubbles so I figured, these guys must be saying something important. This strongly motivated me to learn and I was reading rather large books by the age of 10 (my fifth grade teacher felt that that uncut version of Stephen King's The Stand was inappropriate at my age and was shocked, both positively and negatively, that I understood the context and ambiguities of certain scenes). That all being said, it's my suggestion that you grab a stack of comics that range in terms of popularity, style and maturity and he'll be motivated by what he likes. Perhaps check on eBay for used collections of comic books as they go cheap there. The classic comic books may have less violence and more of a moral high ground than current day comic books.
  • Damn, I'm showing my age again...

  • Some recommendations (Score:4, Informative)

    by p0w ( 134255 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:22PM (#39874485) Journal

    at 3-4, OWLY is fantastic. published by Top Shelf
    Marvel put out a line of comics called MARVEL ADVENTURES with much more "kid appropriate" comics with the big icons of the Marvel U. They can be found in the digest sized format.

    Chris Eliopolous also put out a marvel comic based on Franklin Richards of Fantastic Four fame, it reads like Calvin and Hobbes with Franklin as Calvin and H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot from the 70's FF cartoon as his Hobbes. Delightful. digest format as well.

    Your local comic shop should also have either Essential Collections or Marvel Masterwork tradepaperback collections of the early Marvel Comics of the 60's. Amazing Spider-man 1-20 for $20 in black and white. or 1-10 in color. might be a little early for a lot of that stuff.

    Fantagraphics is publishing the complete Carl Barks library right now. vol. 2 is due out shortly.

    Fantagraphics is also publishing the Complete Peanuts. 2 years per volume. They are in the early '80's right now.

    Lastly, use your local library if you can. You'd be amazed at how much is being purchased by librarians right now to keep kids reading. 741.5 is your dewey decimal. Also, your kids/teen room will usually just have a whole shelf of graphic novels now a days. free looking.

    Lastly part two. Let your kid be a kid as long as possible. Don't force violence at them before they're ready. Most of the above recommendations are way over the head of a 3 year old. Let alone an 8 year old.

    Enjoy. my now 16 and 13 year olds have 2 bookshelves of classic Marvel and DC books. They're also huge fans of Bone and Mouseguard and other great age appropriate stuff...

  • There are tons of beautiful illustrated books with excellent stories. Anything from Oliver Jeffers like Lost & Found, or Olivia the Pig by Ian Falconer or any book illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. I love comic books but my children prefer illustrated books.

    If you are looking for comic books try looking for Belgian/French authors translated to English. They tend to write stories very different from what you find in America, sometimes with very deep stories and characters.

  • by Sandman1971 ( 516283 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:31PM (#39874529) Homepage Journal

    DC has a line of comics aimed specifically to kids called DC Nation. []. Young Justice, Superman Family, etc.. You can even read some of the comics free online, to see if your kid will like them before you start buying issues/TPBs. My son is 2, and I hope that he will have a similar love of comics that his old man does.

  • Axe Cop [], the stories of a 5-year-old through the pen of his 30-year-old brother.

  • Scott Christian Sava has deliberately kept the content of his sprawling CG comic kid friendly. It's free online, or you can buy the books. He also has an iPhone app called iKids Comics that contains other works that are kid friendly. Basically, his motto is that if he can't show it to his seven year old son, it can't go in the comic.
  • by wilson_c ( 322811 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:43PM (#39874647)

    An artist named Andy Runton has a series of simple comics called "Owly". They use the visual language of comics, but don't require literacy. When the characters rarely speak, they do so in pictograms. The stories and jokes are simple enough for young kids to follow without seeming condescending to adults (i.e. it's not Dick & Jane type stuff). My daughter started on them around that age before she could read and liked them. She's almost 7 and is a great reader, but she still enjoys them. I'm sure there are other good comics out there for pre-literate kids if you ask around. I know the comic stores I frequent usually have a lot of kids books available on Free Comics Day. Stop by and take everything you think might be interesting to your boy and see what sticks.

    Once your son begins reading, there are a lot more options: Jeff Smith's "Bone" series, Kazu Kibuishi's "Amulet" Series, Disney Comics (esp. the Carl Barks Duck Adventures). Superhero comics are a bit tougher to get into. Kids are drawn to the costumes and the setup, but the plots and language can be a lot more opaque than you'd expect, especially as they've become oriented towards more sophisticated adult readers over the past 30 years.

    Good luck, he's gonna have fun!

  • I have a three year old son as well and there are many good age appropriate books to read at your library or local book store. I personally find comic books a little too mature for that age. But the important thing is to use your judgment and be ready to put things in context. Whatever comics you read will be better then parking him in front of the TV watching those same comicbook characters. Enjoy the reading, its a great passtime to share with your kid.
  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:23PM (#39874877) Homepage

    I suggest you dig up reprint volumes of classic Silver Age comics. The original Spiderman stories, the original Iron Man stories, etc.

    In those days, the comics were striving to not violate the "comics code" and they contained very little death, no actual swear words, and generally had a lighter tone than modern comics.

    These days, comics are marketed toward teen males; horrible things happen as the comics strive for edginess, and language can be coarse.

    So, I would read classic comics to a 3-year-old, but with modern comics I would carefully vet each issue before reading it. This could be a problem if he gets interested in a storyline and then the next comic comes out and it's horrific! The classic Stan Lee scripts from the 60's are all pretty suitable for a 3-year-old.

    As someone noted, even in classic Spiderman, Peter Parker's uncle is killed... but that's really it for the death. Spiderman fights the Sandman, Doctor Octopus, the Vulture, the Green Goblin, etc. etc. without anyone being seriously hurt.

    Try him on classic Doctor Strange! The original Stan Lee comics of course.

    Hmm, I just checked Amazon and it seems that the search phrase to use is "Marvel Masterworks". Here's a link to the first volume of classic Spiderman: []

    P.S. Bless you for this project. I know this isn't a superhero comic like you asked, but may I suggest that you read this book to your son? This was the first science fiction book I ever read, and it still has an important place in my heart. It's out of print, but trust me, it's worth finding a used copy and buying it. It's probably worth it to buy a hardcover; the mass-market paperback was printed on very cheap paper that is turning brown these days. The story: a family has been living on Ganymede, but will now move to Earth. But shipping is expensive, so they plan to sell their robot and leave the robot behind. Hating to leave the robot, the boy runs away; the boy and the robot have adventures as they try to get to Earth together. It's a tale of adventure and loyalty and love, absolutely a good story for a 3-year-old. The title: The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey. []


  • by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:38PM (#39874959)

    As some people have said (amidst all the trolls deliberately recommending age-inappropriate comics), modern comics are aimed at either teens, or adults who used to read comics when they were a kid. There's just about no comic book that's actually intended for children.

    Since he likes Spider-Man anyway, Marvel has been reprinting Spider-Man starting at the beginning, and those were suitable for 1960's kids.

    Essential Spider-Man #1 [] ($20 for over 500 pages, but in black and white)

    Paperback Spider-Man Masterworks #1 (272 pages, in color) []: should be $20, for some reason it is overpriced on Amazon--try a book store)

  • He needs to start on his nightmares now, so this way by the time he grows up, it'll seem normal.
  • His first book, Donald Duck Adventures #9.

    He didn't get it. It looks a lot like the type of kids books he likes to read, except it was all floppy and had too many words.

  • I've gone through this with my kids (two girls, nearly 3 and 5). You're going to see lots of suggestions for golden age comics, but they don't work. Golden Age stuff had some seriously tedious dialog boxes and genuine weirdness that kids can't comprehend. Not to mention a tendency for some odd 50s-60s-era sexism. They just don't hold up well.

    Tiny Titans has been the Superhero stuff that my kids have latched onto. It's the DC comics heroes as elementary school kids. There's no fighting. Lots of genuinely fun

  • by s0nicfreak ( 615390 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:19PM (#39875511) Journal
    Stick with what the kid likes. If you try to push what you like or what is recommended instead onto him, reading will become a chore. So just start with Spiderman, and then go for whatever comic books are tying into Spiderman at the moment. Yes, comic books aren't really focused at 3 year olds, there are going to be several words you will have to explain the meaning of, it's going to be above his reading level, etc. - but that's a GOOD thing, because not only will he have fun, he will be learning, and growing a lifelong love of reading and learning.
  • by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @01:39AM (#39876069) can I avoid having grandkids?

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...