Thursday, October 11, 2007
New Robin Hood comic launches
BBC Magazines have just launched issue one of Robin Hood Adventures, a 36 page glossy fortnightly based on the current tv version of the character. The publication is in the same format as the company's popular Doctor Who Adventures, but with sadly even less comic strip content.
As with most children's titles these days, Robin Hood Adventures comes bagged with a bunch of free gifts. In this case; postcards, stickers, and a Robin Hood "Activity CD-Rom". The gifts are clearly the selling point here, as the magazine could hardly be seen inside the sealed plastic bag because of the freebies and promotional blurbs.
The magazine itself is nothing special. The now standard mixture of "educational" features with snappy captions, puzzle pages, and simple stories all featuring a "busy" layout (ie: logos slapped all over the place). The only comic strip, a two pager by Craig Donaghy and Paul Cemmick, is bizarrely a humour strip. Although the BBC's Robin Hood isn't as dark as Robin of Sherwood was, it seems strange that its comic strip version is so lighthearted.
The other story in the magazine is a four page photo strip adaptation of the first tv episode. The presentation is incredibly simplistic, with as little dialogue as possible within word balloons that have tails which annoyingly touch the character's mouths. (A no-no in lettering.) As if that wasn't dumbed-down enough, each photo-panel is not only numbered but features cartoon arrows between each panel to instruct the reader which direction to follow.
And if that wasn't simple enough, the four pager is split into two double page "parts"; one on pages 10/11, the other on pages 32/33, as if reading a four page strip in one go might make kids heads explode.
What has happened to children's comics, or to children for that matter, for publications to be so dumbed-down (or "younged up" in dodgy-sounding media speak)? Forty years ago the age range that Robin Hood Adventures is aimed at were quite happily managing to understand TV Century 21 without such gimmicks to guide them through the pages. If today's kids can manage to read Harry Potter or the latest Jaqueline Wilson book, I'm sure they're sophisticated enough to grasp something with a bit more substance than this.
Having said that, the kids will probably love it.