Aug 4, 2011

Let's talk about Australian Kids' Magazines.

All the images from this article
are from Krash #91. Krash is
known for its subtle covers.

As I pointed out in an earlier article there exists in Australia a wide range of magazines for children that celebrate and, let's be honest, shill youth pop culture. These are some of the only comics-related material produced exclusively in Australia for Australian children. They're available everywhere, and sell quite well.

Each one is filled to the brim with articles that barely hide the fact that they're actually advertisements for the most popular pop culture of the day. They're written directly to kids, they're colourful, and they're about things kids care about.

Also, they generally have comic pages as a backup in them! Actually that's probably stretching things. Most of them have a very small, teenie-tiny number of comic pages in the back of the issue, usually something like 6 pages of comics in a 100 page magazine.

The magazines are, frankly, incredibly crass. They try to write to kids on their own level, using 'young slang', and writing things in a way that sounds awesome and cool! Often using words like awsm and kewl. The result is that they're kind low on the literacy scales, and very hard to read if you're not 10.

One of the selling points of the magazines  is that each and every one of them comes with a 'free gift' of some sort. Some come with knock-off Transformers, some come with mini-skateboards, some come with girly powder puffs! Oh yeah... I forgot to mention that didn't I? There's a boy/girl divide with these magazines too.

This is how the magazines appear on
store shelves. In a plastic bag, with
a toy  covering up half the cover.
The girls' magazines are pink and filled with celebrities. They're basically primer books for later girls' mags like Dolly and adult gossip mags like Woman's Weekly and NW. The boys' magazines aren't quite what you'd call primers for Men's magazines, because they don't have any tits in them. I guess if you're just comparing them to the tech and pop culture sections of Ralph or People the comparison stands up. They just use Optimus Prime to sell their issues rather than Lucy Pinder's breasts.

The other thing I should probably talk about is the fact that these magazines are really, really affordable and cheap. You get a lot of bang for your buck. They're the sort of thing that you could throw into your mum's supermarket trolley and she won't fight you on it like she might on a Transformers toy.
This is all the stuff  you get with the issue! Value for money!
Notice that the 2 posters touted on the cover is actually one
double-sided poster. Laaaaame.

The recommended retail price is usually AUD 5.95. That might sound like a bit much to an American, but for an Australian it's about the same price as larger women's mags, about half the price of men's mags, and less than the cost of an imported American comic from a newsagents in Australia. (American comics are about AUD 5 to 7 in comic book stores here, and about AUD 7 to 9 at newsagents.)

Probably one of the biggest appeals to these magazines is the way they use language. I don't want to say they use language skillfully -- or that they're particularly well written -- but what they are is written directly TO their audience. The magazines give their audience group nick-names (like Krash-Heads, or Maniacs -- which shortens to Yaks), and they constantly address them directly.

That makes them really engaging, if you buy into the general tone of the book.
Yeah... this doesn't really read like analysis so much as straight-up
advertising. Yup, sure Krash. Rayman is up there with Sonic and Mario. So iconic!

While I do really like these magazines there's no getting around the fact that they're incredibly garish, incredibly crass, and almost sickenningly commercial. There's no educational content at all in these books. There's not much creative content either. The entire purpose of these magazines is to sell things to children.

Even when they have supposedly creative content it's almost always something designed to sell a character or concept from a pop culture property.
Look, they're teaching you to draw! Wait...
no, no. I think this is just to teach you
character recognition. But nice try, Krash.

I think the thing I really want people to take away from this article is this: These magazines appeal to children. Children buy these magazines. These magazines look NOTHING like modern comics -- and that's probably why kids actually like them.

To conclude I'll give you links to all the websites I could find:
Total Girl
Girl Power

--Andrew S.
(Oh, as a post script -- here's another Transformers quiz for you.)
Also some advertising contest on the side!

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