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Comics and childhood have had a richly intertwined history for nearly a century. From Richard Outcault's Yellow Kid, Winsor McCay's Little Nemo, and Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie to Hergé's Tintin (Belgium), José Escobar's Zipi and Zape (Spain), and Wilhelm Busch's Max and Moritz (Germany), iconic child characters have given both kids and adults not only hours of entertainment but also an important vehicle for exploring children's lives and the sometimes challenging realities that surround them.
Bringing together comic studies and childhood studies, this pioneering collection of essays provides the first wide-ranging account of how children and childhood, as well as the larger cultural forces behind their representations, have been depicted in comics from the 1930s to the present. The authors address issues such as how comics reflect a spectrum of cultural values concerning children, sometimes even resisting dominant cultural constructions of childhood; how sensitive social issues, such as racial discrimination or the construction and enforcement of gender roles, can be explored in comics through the use of child characters; and the ways in which comics use children as metaphors for other issues or concerns. Specific topics discussed in the book include diversity and inclusiveness in Little Audrey comics of the 1950s and 1960s, the fetishization of adolescent girls in Japanese manga, the use of children to build national unity in Finnish wartime comics, and how the animal/child hybrids in Sweet Tooth act as a metaphor for commodification.