See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Comics' second childhood

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Even the artsy-fartsiest of the alternative comics creators — especially them, actually — have great admiration for the children’s book illustrators and kids’ comics artists of days gone by. With the idea well established by now that comics can be made for adults, some cartoonists are trying to resurrect the all-ages comic book.

One attempt to enlist alternative cartoonists to produce kiddie fare, the “Measles” series, flounders when its contributors can’t quite curb their more (ahem) underground tendencies. But Little Lit gets it right. It has the fine production values — and large size — one would expect from its editors, RAW magazine founders Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, as well as the excellent lineup of artists, 17 in all.

Dan Clowes tells the after “happily ever after” part of the Sleeping Beauty tale. How Things Work author David Macauley offers his first foray into comics, a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. David Mazzucchelli presents a beautifully rendered legend from Japan, while Spiegelman relates a Hasidic parable. Sprinkled between the stories are activity pages from Charles Burns, J. Otto Seibold and others. The endpapers feature a typical jaw-dropper from Chris Ware — an elaborately designed board game called “Fairy Tale Road Rage.” Nestled lovingly in the center of the book is a story reprinted from a 1943 issue of “Fairy Tale Parade” (price: 10¢) by the much-respected creator of “Pogo,” Walt Kelly.

None of the comics in Little Lit is sugary-sweet pabulum, cleaving more to the earthier nature of the original folk tales, in which evil queens get devoured by serpents and heartless children get turned into owls. But they also never lapse — for long, anyway — into “updated” hipness or irreverent scatology. Little Lit strikes just the right balance between “kids will love it” and “adults can enjoy it too.” A truly all-ages comic book, it’s a beautiful thing.

Sean Bieri is the design director for Metro Times. E-mail him at


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Sean Bieri

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit