You’ll Read Those Comics Kid, and You’ll Like It!

From the very moment I told people that we were having a baby, it started.  People assume that because I like comics, and work in comics, that I'm going to try to turn my son into some sort of comics super soldier.  Perhaps I will deck him out in a cape, and only let him read Superman stories, exposing him to a steady diet of animated superhero movies, and ingraining all his earliest speech with passages from the Green Lantern oath. Halloween will be a foregone conclusion as my wife, who desperately wants to dress him up as a tiny Marty McFly, replete with down vest, is spurned, because I insist on heaping the child with mud and foliage, because, dammit, he is gonna be the best Swamp Thing Baby this world has ever seen.  Envisioning a future where the geeks do indeed rule the earth, some think that I will equip him so thoroughly in the nuances of comic book culture that his future and interests will have no possibility of divergence from that of stone cold comic book expert.

Except, that's not going to happen.

If he likes comics, well, he'll certainly be exposed to them. There's no choice in this house.  I'm sure I'll get him some books, but they'll be right alongside other "normal" books. Comics are a great way to learn reading comprehension. Just ask… well almost anyone reading this.  But I can't force him to like comics. The truth is, I can already envision the days when he wants to go to football games or ballet or jazz recitals, just because I think that's how it works.  That doesn't mean I can't have a relationship with him (although the football thing is a stretch).  We've gotten a good amount of emails from dudes asking how they can get a girlfriend who's into comics, to which I always wonder what it matters. My wife doesn't read comics, and we get along just fine. My son doesn't need to be into comics, and I'm sure we'll get along just fine. As long as he cleans up that damn room.  I mean, what sort of place does he think he's living in? And the lights? Don't get me started on those.  He wouldn't know what an off switch was if you–

Wait, where was I? Moving on.

There is, of course, the issue many of you might be wondering about, and that is: The Name.  My son's name is Oliver Quinn Flanagan. Some people have incorrectly interpreted this as being an homage to Green Arrow.  While I certainly cannot deny they sound alike, the fact is, I don't really care about Oliver Queen that much. Certainly not enough to name my child after him.  Sure, I was aware of the coincidence when we decided on the name, but 99.9999% of the people Oliver will meet during his life won't think of that at all, because this is some niche pop culture right here.  We just liked the name Oliver. There are plenty of other examples of that showing up in media over the years, and we didn't name him after the kid on the Brady Bunch, the woeful Dickensian orphan, or even eyeglass magnate Oliver Peoples.  Honestly, I just thought the initials would look awesome on a book jacket some day. Of course, it's unlikely he'll be writing novels when he's decided to disappoint his father by joining the board of what remains of the hobbled oil industry in the future, but regardless, no one in that decrepit and evil board room will ever think, "Hey your name sounds like a superhero."  And if his middle name sounds like a character from Reign of Fire, well, there's nothing I can do about that either.

You know what's terrifying though? He's probably going to like those Star Wars prequels. Now that would be a tragedy.

 

 


Josh Flanagan wrote this on 3 hours of sleep. Because he loves you too. Also, that photo is not his actual baby.

Comments

  1. I never thought you would name your kid after Green Arrow, but with how much you guys, (and really everyone with taste) love Riegn of Fire i was sure the Quinn thing wasn’t a coincidence

  2. Great article Josh. I can completely relate. I’ve got a little one on the way and the questions have already started coming in about the name we’ve chosen.  Did you name her after that Transformers chick? Or.. the character from family guy?  Or.. Or.. no.. we though Megan Elizabeth sounded nice and had a flow to it.  and.. with the last name Grover.. her nickname and her initials will probably match. Unless she disappoints me and wants to be called Megan or Meggie.. or Megs.. or some such nonsense.

    In any case, the four and three quarter year old in the house gave up Dr Seuss about 6 months ago and we’ve been making our way nightly through my three volume complete Calvin and Hobbes.  She asks to flip through my comics. At the moment, I’m under no disillusionment that it’s simply because she sees me reading all of this and wants to do what I do.  In no time, I expect her to have friends over giggling about my stacks of comics or my Jim Lee Batman poster on my office wall. 

  3. My poor friend Ben has to watch the Star Wars prequels way more than he should have to. Kids love Jar Jar.

  4. O. Q. Flanagan.

    O. Q. F. 

    O. Quinn Flanagan.

    Oliver Q. Flanagan.

    Yeah, those’ll work on a book jacket. Better’n mine, anyway.  

  5. Don’t worry Josh, the sleep will come back. …maybe after the summer if your lucky.

    Funny, I was more concerned if my kids were going to take to sports more than to comics. They don’t like sports that much, but they love comics (7m & 9f). Maybe I went about it all wrong. I signed them both up for all the sports introductory fun camps. Those didn’t really go well. Can’t figure it out, but I’m not complaining. I still have their attention for golf so not all is lost.

    I’m not disappointed really. You see, yoday is "Tiny Titans Day!" A new issue is out today and when I get through that front door with 2 copies of that issue, I’m pretty much the Hero. It actually makes my wife a little jealous how effortlessly I become the Greatest Dad (for the day). The comics connection is alive and well. …and I didn’t throw away money into a fun camp to achieve this! Awe Yeah Titans!!!

  6. A Swamp Thing baby would be just about the cutest thing ever.

  7. Aw, man…. I already bought Oliver that very Robin outfit…

    Nuts.

    *kicks a can*

  8. My parents went the "His name will look good in print" route too. I had a librarian constantly tell me, with a "name like that" that, I should write a novel.

     So you just sacrificed your child to years of torment from the evil old librarians of the world, Josh. Nice job. We can only hope that the book burnings will start before he takes out his first issue of Cat In The Hat.

  9. @Conor – *starts playing the Christmas Time song from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special*

  10. See. Josh has learned from all those 80’s teen movies that a bad parent tries to force their children down a certain path. Who said that the 80’s were a waste?

  11. It’s kind of a shame this article was even necessary.  Still a good one though.

  12. I suggested to my good lady, if we had a boy and a girl, we were calling them Bruce and Diana.  The withering glare she gave me spoke volumes.  Okay… Scott and Emma it is…

  13. Don’t worry, Josh! I’ve got the sports angle covered! I can coach little league and/or soccer!

  14. @Conor would you be one the demanding coach’s with a beer in hand at all the games yelling "Come on you call that a throw!?! wait, what are you doing? Oh no. NO theres no crying in baseball!"

  15. "That’s not running, that’s falling!"

  16. Personally, I think the baby is going to grow up to look just like Conor. However, this may be unfairly influenced by the fact that the baby was born bald. Better give it more time.

  17. @English: Nope. I never liked any coach I had who acted like that, and don’t think they were ever effective, so I don’t coach that way.

  18. I like the Marty McFly idea.

    I have two daughters and have made no overt efforts to get them interested in comics.  Despite that, they have both turned into comics fans.  I assume it is because they see me enjoying them and want to be like their dad.  I fully expect that to go away once they get old enough to start rebelling.  

    We read every single night for at least 20 minutes and for the last year, or so, they have been asking me to read them a comic at least three times a week (we even subscribed to Tiny Titans once we exhausted our library’s supply of kid friendly comics).  My daughter has recent started reading (which is awesome), so she reads to us every other night.  Guess what she has been choosing to read.

    My point is that you won’t have to overtly push young Oliver into comics, he is likely to naturally gravitate there due to his desire to imitate you.  I simply try to help them avoid comics (and anything else) they aren’t ready for.

    Good luck. 

  19. I eased my nephew, who was 6 going on 7 last summer, into reading comics. I didn’t do it because I read comics, but because I wanted him to practice reading and actually enjoy doing it. Ideally, his reading will balance out the amount of time he spends playing outside or inside playing video games. It’s endearing to see him read a comic book out loud, and also the amount of time it takes him to get through a single issue. His pull list includes Marvel Adventures Spider-man digest, Marvel Adventures Avengers digest, Ben 10 and several of the Boom Kids titles.

  20. When I found out my wife was pregnant I found myself looking through the kids section at the comic store. Then, after thinking about it for a while and getting a response letter from Josh that said pretty much the same thing as this article, I got real paranoid about pushing things I liked on my kid. Everything my parents tried to involve me in I automatically assumed was uncool. 

    I decided that I wouldn’t push anything as much as some things will just be around. Comics will be around the house the same as sci-fi books, UT football and video games. These things aren’t going away just because I have a baby. So if they light a spark of interest good and if not, well, that’s the way things are. 

    However, if my child grows up enjoying the Star Wars prequels he will be shipped off to the spice mines of Kessel.

    PS – We found out yesterday that he is indeed a boy. I would have been thrilled to have a daughter, but I live in Texas and having a daughter means a mandatory purchase of a shotgun and I just wasn’t quite ready for that. 

     

  21. @Conor-I already picture you as a man that spends the entire day in track suits, so a coaching job is perfect for you.

  22. I’m terrified about the thought of my kids preferring the Star Wars prequels to the original trilogy (not really, but my geek side is). More and more I’m feeling that those of us who grew up loving the originals will be viewed as old farts simply because of that fact alone. "Back in my day, we didn’t need no stinking Midichlorians in our Star Wars stories!"

  23. Congrats @blulew23. Once we found out our soon to exist little one was a girl, we realized that we’d be OK with it ending up a boy in subsequent ultrasounds. We also realized the 4 3/4 year old would not have been OK with the change. 🙂

  24. We all know that if Josh was going to name his kid after a comic book archer, it wouldn’t be Green Arrow. It would be the one from Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood of course!

  25. Never mind whether or not he’ll get into comics, just let us know when he develops superpowers.

  26. Congratulations, blulew23 and siraim.

  27. Good for you, Josh. My nephew stumbled into superheroes all on his own, despite my wife, the kid’s parents, my in-laws, etc. thinking I was going to be pushing them on the kid with Batman onesies (yes, I would wear one if it came in Fat Guy sizes) and Spider-Man rattles. There is something inherent about people in colorful tights running around and hitting other people – it drew us in, and it will draw our kids (and nephews) in, even if it only lasts a few months.

    However, I am comforted by the fact that I now know someone I can leave my Ultimate Fantastic Four run to. That’s a load off my mind for sure.

  28. My wife and I just discovered she’s pregnant this past week. Every time we talk about potential names I mentally run it through my index of comic book characters and make sure it’s acceptable. 🙂

  29. I endorse this article.

    True, I have been sort of leaving Spider-Man in my girl’s path recently, and she has begun asking for him by name while having no idea what he does, who he is, or that that’s a mask. All she knows is she prefers the Spidey toothbrush to the Elmo one. Nonetheless, trying to make your kids little yous is just about literally the cause of all this country’s psychological problems.

    I am a big proponent of using the medium as a gateway to reading, though. It occurred to me a while back that a number of my favorite kids’ books are actually comics; I’m thinking specifically of "The Monster at the End of This Book."

  30. @flakbait – Congrats!

  31. Great article Josh. I have a 2 year old daughter and luckily she loves comics. She doesnt fully comprehend obviously but you can see the gears turning. Her opinions are starting to form as her night time story has evolved from a range of characters to solely stories of the Justice League.. luckily it didn’t take any kind of force. I never would force comics on a child but with them so readily available she took to them quickly and I would quickly argue have helped her speech and reading develop quicker than normal.

  32. @Jimski – It took me a moment to realize your "girl" was actually your daughter and not your significant other.

  33. If your dad took you to see phantom menace when you were six, you would have loved it too….

  34. My one year old son is always trying to grab my comics, I think the colours attract him, god knows how he thinks he can lift that Captain America omnibus though.

    It seems so many kids go through a Spider-Man phase. My nephew is always aking about him, and it’s such a great gateway into reading.

  35. My children won’t read comics because I’ll chop off their hands if those grubby little fingers ever grace the cover of my funnybooks.  They will learn to both fear and respect these pieces of bundled paper.  MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  36. Is your worst nightmare your kid turns into a jock and beats up comic book nerds in high school? But the kids at school find out that his dad is a comic book geek and that the family hides that terrible secret until the ultimate showdown is finally…what the fuck am I even talking about?

  37. At C2E2, I commented to some friends: I would only ever have offspring so I could dress them up as characters and bring them to conventions. Like alive dress up dolls. There needs to be a child rent a service… just during convention weekend.

     

    What? My biological clock hasn’t started ticking yet!

  38. I’ve often thought about this, and what would happen when I one day (in the distant future) have children.

    I tweeted a question a few weeks ago, asking if you WERE to name a child after a comic book character, what it would be. You know what my response was? Oberton Sexton Gravedigger!

    To be honest, in a random hypothetical conversation, my partner and I agreed on Conner, then a few days later she asked "How many superheroes are called Conner?". I lied in my respone.

  39. My wife and I were also thinking Connor if we have another boy.  Connor Logan to be exact, so I would call him Con-L.  At least secretly.

  40. I forgot to include this story, so BONUS CONTENT:

    I was reading comics last week, and holding Oliver, and he was very much attracted to looking at the colorful pages.  My wife told me to read it to him, and I said I didn’t think this was the best book for that, and she said it didn’t matter, and so I proceeded to read outloud the opening scenes from Powers #4.  Lotta "fucks" in that scene.

  41. @Josh – In my experience babies love the word "fuck".  They also like shaking half empty water bottles.  We were interesting dinner guests.

  42. @Josh Next time, just have Tom Katers read Tarot to the lad. *callback from last week’s show*

  43. I totally agree with the sentiment…but I also must confess that I took my 3 yr old son to the LCS with me this evening, where he picked out an Iron Man pez, and then we came back home and played with our Marvel Handful of Heroes figures. Which is to say, while I don’t believe you can/should force it, it sure is fun sharing the joy of comics and their characters now that my son has found some interest. Not to mention the licensed comics, such as Cars, which we’ve enjoyed reading together.

  44. It’s worth mentioning thar at 23, I have only ncow urtailed my natural inclination to tell my father that everything he likes is stupid. Part of my maturatin necessarily involved defining myself againsr what my father liked. Rebellion is natural and, I believe, ceucial in personal development.

     Dad’s actually has a lot better taste than I ever gave him credit for. That he allowed me to rebel in large ways and small agaist his normative tastes and moral ideologies endears him to me a great deal. I like to think he knew I’d come arround eventually apprciate the things he truly cherishes (and I have for the most part), but because I found my own reasons to like them..

     

    I still root for the Red Sox just becuse it annoys him. 🙂

  45. What are these "Star Wars Prequels" you speak? No such thing exists in my world!

    I’m not actively trying to raise a comic book reader, but I do find myself buying more kid friendly stuff to have around too distract my 6 month old when she gets older. I have a bedtime in mind and she can stay up 30 minutes later as long as it’s reading some kind of thing, books, magazines(with words) or comics. So I want lots of age appropriate stuff lying around when she learns to read.

  46. my friends and i had a discussion a while back about the "punk rock baby "…..as in how many of those kids who have mohawks, chucks and sing along to Ramones songs at age 3 grow up to become neo-conservatives….if nothing else to rebel against their parents with the neck tattoos and pink hair. 

  47. @josh: That’s a funny story. Let’s hope the wife doesn’t do the same thing when your reading an issue of Nemesis.

    Great article and I can see where your getting at. If Oliver turns into a comic fan, it should be by his own choice. If I ever have a kid, god help him/her, I won’t force them to read comics. Although comic films will most likely be a sure thing from now on.

    (I thought of the car Richard Hammond has on the show Top Gear. An Opal Kadett which he decided to name Oliver.) 

  48. My parents weren’t any iteration of what we’d call comic geeks today, but they grew up with comics and comic characters and new that I’d like guys in capes who fly and punch bad guys. You’re not wrong to get things for your child that they will like so I hope you (Josh, everyone on this thread w/ a child, expecting a child, or far-off-future-planning for a child) never second guess what to provide your child out of a fear that you’re shoving your tastes onto them. Pre-emptively getting the little one a Superman toy or a Spider-Man shirt isn’t a bad thing because, chances are, they’re going to like it. Dressing the kid like or naming them after characters, or even just pushing obscure characters that only the hardcore comic fan will appreciate ("You will love Ted Kord as I do, little Billy!!") is something else entirely, though. Supes? Spidey? Batman? Hulk? Kids go apeshit over them, you’re not in the wrong to get ’em that stuff.

    Back to my personal side of it, like I said, my parents weren’t avid comic readers, but grew up in a time that every kid read ’em. Knowing that they were having a boy, (I assume this is how it went via back-tracking and seeking info in the issue) they got an issue of Batman (#423 ) knowing that I’d grow up reading it over and over again. Damn thing got torn to shreds over the years, but I was able to find a digital scan of the issue and the rush of nostalgia hit me like a freighttrain. In a bit of a turn, these days whenever I buy collected editions of comics, my mom is the 1st one to check them out. Her favorites thus far have been Preacher and Identity Crisis.

  49. There’s absolutely no way to force the issue anyway.  I don’t really know exactly what sparked the comic gene in me back in the mid 80s but it’s for damn sure it wasn’t because my parents were into them or forced them onto me.  THey didn’t discourage me and my mum certainly encouraged reading in general (the one thing you SHOULD do).  It was just seeing that Batman issue in the newsagent that sparked something unexplainable in me, and continues to this day.

    My 7 year old likes some comics, but mainly as extensions of what he already likes e.g. Star Wars, Transformers, Batman Brave and the Bold.  And he does kind of like the Star Wars prequels, although thankfully probably not as much as the original trilogy…parenthood is sometimes about forgiveness too.

    Oh, and on the kids books front, can I heartily recommend anything by Mo Willems?  The perfect thing for any burgeoning reader/listener’s stack.

  50. My wife is due in August with our first child. After the obvious Bruce, Clark, Hal, Guy, Wally, which got similar looks to selfstyler. I went a more left field route with Will and Hope (Avarice, Fear and Rage would have been a step too far.) I managed to talk Hope onto a short list. Although now I feel bad about my duplicity and my wife still likes the name. aarrrgghhh!!!

  51. @josh- Oh yes.  I remember fondly reading to my one week old daughter the first half of the Sinestro Corps War.  Almost two years later she still loves to grab my hardcovers and ooh and aah over the pictures.  But she generally likes to grab any kind of book she sees, so that’s a already a good sign.  Oh to have another little library nerd in the house… whatever keeps her in the house and me from having to dust off the aforementioned mandatory Texas shotgun.

  52. My son is three an he definitely likes to choose what he watches on t.v. (he’s to young to read) He likes Boomerang which is awesome because I defintitely approve of Scooby Doo and Tom and Jerry. There is just too much CGI stuff for kids, I like to kick it old school. I recomend Super Friends to any parent, its a lot like scooby doo but with DC characters and some episodes have the whole "moral of the story is…" thing going on. Whether you like comics or not I think its as essential as the old/new Sesame Street. I did not pick it up because I want to brainwash my child but because I noticed he likes the old school animation and he loves it! It’s so much better for your kid to like what you like, thank you Sponge Bob 🙂 and it really sucks when you have to watch Max and Ruby or the new Care Bears. I am glad I had a boy because my Lil Pony is just not going to happen. God I hate uber girly stuff…

  53. As I fill my longboxes and put them away, I do it for my son.  He may or may not appreciate it 10 years down the road, but I want him to have the chance.  When I was 12 years old I would have loved to have a treasure trove of reading material handed to me by my dad. 

    Also, the hobbled oil industry appreciates your support! 

     

  54. For what it’s worth, the guys over at Uncanny X-Cast seem to be doing rather well in the comic book indoctrination of their children. 🙂