I stopped reading comic books in my mid twenties for a couple of years before picking up again digitally on an iPad and catching up on the back issues I had missed. I was fine with the idea of reading comic books on an iPad for quite a few years actually, until I had a kid.
When I found out my girlfriend (at the time) was pregnant 10 years ago the first thing I said was “OMG! I can’t wait to show them Star Wars!” and that was my way of saying “I am so excited to have this baby”. My first thought was about sharing one of my passions with my future child.
I think many soon to be parents might have similar thoughts when they first find out they are going to have a child. They wonder if that kid will be interested in the same sport or go to the same university or follow the same career path. But for folks like me, I wondered if she would be a geek.
My late twenties and early thirties started to feel like a million years removed from reading comic books and watching Star Wars on VHS in my bedroom as a tween. My passion for Green Goblin and Chewbacca started to fade as my career began and my family was growing.
But then something amazing happened, my daughter, who I was excited to share my passions with, grew out of diapers and started forming her own little personality. After pre-school shows the first two major properties she became obsessed with were My Little Pony and DC Superhero Girls.
The Ponies were a holdover from her mom's love of them, but the DC Superhero Girls comes directly from a Wizard World Comic Con I attended about 6 years ago when I got my daughter her first Batgirl figure. I was nervous she would toss it aside, but I had to give it a shot.
To my surprise the floodgates opened and she almost immediately had figures of every character and saw every movie the DC Superhero Girls starred in. Full disclosure, I’m actually a Marvel guy through and through since the very first comic book I bought (DC Versus Marvel #1).
But therein lies the first lesson of getting your kids in to your passion:
Don’t expect your kid to be into the exact same aspect of the hobby or fandom that you are into. I love Marvel and definitely tried at one point to get my daughter into Spider-Gwen and Spider-Ham and all that, but it just didn’t do it for her the same way the DC characters did.
My daughter knows EVERY DC Superhero Girl character's name and super power and how they all relate to each other. She understands the lore and continuity and had always been excited for new entries in the series before she grew on to other things (as kids do).
Similarly the My Little Pony show created a lore and mythology that she was able to follow and while Ponies aren’t exactly my jam, I started to get excited over her excitement. Watching her collect Ponies is what spurred me to get back into collecting myself.
I had not bought a physical comic or “action figure” in well over ten years, but when I attended that Wizard World and started going to a local comic shop again about 5 years ago it was all because I was jealous of my daughters collection!
At first I thought that I was going to inspire her hobbies and interests and what I learned is lesson number two:
We all aspire to teach our kids about how to beat Mario Brothers or become a Dungeon Master or build the Empire State Building out of Legos. But let’s be real, most of our kids don’t want the dull old toys and movies us adults grew up with.
They want the shiny new things. So a big part of getting kids into our hobbies is to find a more modern version they can relate to. Don’t expect your kid to be into A New Hope right away, you have to show them the Disney Shorts first to get them into BB8 and R2D2.
Don’t expect them to be into Amazing Spider-Man when there is an All Ages IDW Spider-Man book aimed directly at kids. Definitely don’t get offended when they think Raiders of the Lost Ark isn’t cool. Just remember there is a new “Raiders” out there that they want to watch with you!
You have to start being as interested in the things your kid loves as you want them to be in what you love. If your kid finds some absurd movie about an archeologist that talks to bones, watch it with them and actually pay attention.
Show them you are interested in what they already like and it will build a bond between y’all. While the kid might not want to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark today, they definitely might later in their life. But you have to build that bond first by showing interest in what they like.
Don’t just diddle on your phone while their movie is on. Watch the movie with them, know the characters, learn the lines and not just because you’ve heard it on in the background a million times, but because you’ve sat down and truly watched it, just once or twice.
Kids won’t immediately reciprocate by showing interest in a movie you want them to watch, but the adult they grow up to be definitely will.
And that’s what brings me to the third and final lesson in this article:
The whole tone of this article might make you think it refers to young people, but that’s not exactly true. My mom is the person who introduced me to horror movies when I was younger, she was a huge fan of Friday the 13th and showed me films like that and The Exorcist, pretty young.
But it built a bond; I love horror movies and never felt “neglected” by that act of watching them so young. My ex-wife would kill me if I showed my daughter something like The Exorcist at 9 years old, but times were different, and really, some kids can take it.
I think it is super important to be patient, don’t expect your kids to immediately be into your passions, but remember that they will be your kids until the day you die. You want to always remember the long game and give your child time to develop into their own passions.
As long as you show interest in their passions, share your own passions with them on their terms and find ways to incorporate their little worlds into your own, time will develop a relationship where your hobbies start to meld with theirs.
You’ll be playing in a virtual reality world with them trading Baseball Card NFTs and interacting with folks who represent themselves as Ninja Turtle avatars in the meta-verse and you’ll wonder why you ever wanted to make your kid watch an old VHS copy of A New Hope to begin with.
Good luck folks, tweet at me stories of getting kids into comics, or movies, or whatever @comicfam.