Decline in the Comic Book Child Audience: Cause for Alarm?

As I covered on this site on Friday, the second Comic Con India in New Delhi opened up at Dilli Haat in the capital city.  Much like the United States, however, the observation was made that there was a lack of children at the event – children who were once the largest audience for comic books in the world.

Film-maker and creator Munkeeman, Abhishek Sharma, noted that children have been too allured by digital media and the internet to care about comics anymore.  He said, “This generation of kids are more tuned in to watch television shows or surf the internet, than read comics.  I’d say it is just organic growth.  With increased venues of entertainment, the kids prefer those which are more eye-catching.  Most of the comic lovers are from our generation, who have grown on a staple diet of Pran and Anant Pai’s creations.”

I personally fail to see why the gradual disinterest in comics from children is in any way strange.  Have you not been reading comic books over the past 20 years?  Most of them aren’t exactly geared toward children anymore.  What child can understand Tony Stark’s gradual self-realizations, turning from weapons manufacturing and war profiteering, to becoming a world leader in solar energy and a believer in peace?  What child could possibly follow the intracate story arcs in the more recent Batman (Dark Knight) graphic novels, or for that matter, The Watchmen?  What of V for Vendetta?  What child is actually going to understand the more sophisticated issues explored in that classic story?

For that matter, is The Walking Dead really for kids?  Is Anita Blake for kids?  Tank Girl, Blade?   No.  Not only do they explore adult issues, but adult issues as well.

You’re bound to see less and less children attending these conventions.  Even while some comics still garner toward children, and even the ones that don’t are often still child-friendly (maybe a TV-14 in television ratings), the most popular ones these days are certainly the ones garnered more toward adults.  And I don’t just mean novels like Sin City, but also like many of today’s superhero comics.

But as with shows like Star Trek, with complex story arcs, adult issues, sophisticated stories, there will always be an audience of children for these shows as well.  Therefore, I see this as no cause for alarm.


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