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Books and movies intended for children very often contain fantasy elements. They are typically not considered part of the fantasy genre, but rather part of the specific “for children” genre. Does this make them on-topic or off-topic for this site? Where do we draw the line, if any?


This meta question was triggered by this question about a children's cartoon, which was eventually closed as off-topic by community vote and is now deleted. Its title was “Which Tiny Toons episode has the characters producing their own serious film?”, with some reasonable story identification elements.


Here's the relevant limit in the ISFDB scope as a guideline (which isn't an obligation, we can go our own way): they exclude

animal books for very young children, i.e. books for preschoolers which depict simple scenes from animal life featuring anthropomorphized animals

(quoted here as a possibility that we don't have to follow)

  • Since the question used as an example is no longer there, could you tell us, at least in general, what the question was? – Tango Dec 20 '11 at 8:36
  • @TangoOversway Good idea, done. – user56 Dec 20 '11 at 12:27
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I'm going to say that unless the show was seriously sci-fi/fantasy (Dungeons and Dragons comes to mind), then it should not be on topic. If it's merely creative creatures, even if they exhibit unusual abilities, it shouldn't be on topic.

As far as the other concern that will no doubt be raised, of comic-themed cartoons, I think those should be allowed, for now. It's not the best fit, but as almost all comic book heros are either mutants, genetically engineered, aliens, robots, or people with some futuristic technology, all of which would easily be covered in this site, I say it's on topic, at least until such time that there is a better place for it.

  • What are “creative creatures”? I don't know the term and Google didn't help. – user56 Aug 3 '11 at 1:17
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    Well, I was basically thinking of creating mythical creatures, or something like Smurfs, or anything that's creative, not real, and some kind of a creature. – PearsonArtPhoto Aug 3 '11 at 4:18
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I think the line is pretty straightforward: would a serious fan of the science fiction or fantasy genres consider spending any amount of effort digging into the details of a children's cartoon?

If the answer is yes, it's on-topic. If the answer is no, it's off-topic.

I'm willing to bet the farm, in the case of Tiny Toons, the answer is no.

One should take care to not compare this to potentially on-topic animated features, like anime or licensed films based on comic book characters: both enjoy a following within the respective communities and in many cases are designed to appeal to more than just children, but to adults invested in the genres the animated features are set in.

But putting aside the genre question for a moment: how is "what episode had X?" interesting? Isn't that covered by any episode list and shouldn't it be closed as general reference?

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    I do know adults who would go to that effort with children's cartoons. I don't know if there's a significant correlation with SF fans. Regarding this specific question, if you think it's GR, post a comment with the GR link and vote to close. – user56 Aug 3 '11 at 1:15
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    I think this Wikipedia page would work as a general reference. – gnovice Aug 3 '11 at 2:02
  • What is a "serious fan of the science fiction & fantasy genres"? I think if you can answer this question, you can resolve any "on-topicness" controversy. – Andres F. May 2 '12 at 2:13
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    @AndresF. I've found that it's generally pretty obvious, and any major ambiguity comes from over-thinking the problem or trying to prove a point about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a specific work. However, asking about a specific work on meta is always an option if it's unclear at first blush whether it's SFF. – user366 May 2 '12 at 2:37
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    So, in your opinion, is it "pretty obvious" whether My Little Pony belongs in F&SF? (it's clear by now my opinion is that it doesn't, but others disagree -- hence "obviousness" is not a good criterion. By the way, I may sound argumentative now, but my genuine reaction upon finding the first MLP questions on scifi.SE was "what the hell!?") – Andres F. May 2 '12 at 18:31
  • @AndresF. I've purposely avoided the current MLP debate as it seems, to me, to be less about defining boundaries and more about people trying to make a point about a controversial franchise. – user366 May 2 '12 at 22:16
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    "Would a serious fan of the science fiction or fantasy genres consider spending any amount of effort digging into the details of a children's cartoon?" - For the record, I'm usually happy to put in a little time answering questions of dubious site-relevance. That's not really a good criteria to use. – Valorum Oct 27 '14 at 18:55
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I suppose my response would be that childrens SF/F is valid, as long as it is actual SF/F, in a way that is recognisable to SF/F fans. But where the essence of the story is not really fantasy, even if the setting is "fantastical" as a lot of childrens material is, then it does not count. The challenge is distinguishing between situations where the fantasy aspect is core to the story, and where it is merely a good setting for telling the stories.

The other test might be whether a particular series would appeal to younger people who will enjoy SF/F when they are older, or may enjoy it at their current age. Are Smurfs - or Tiny Toons - fans good SF/F material? The answer is probably no. Are Sarah Jane Adventures fans good SF/F material? Probably yes.

The other test for this site is Are there liable to be people who use this site who have a clue about this series? If the answer is no, then, however much you might want to argue that it is SF, the questions are not going to get good answers.

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    Wait, what? Why aren't Smurf fans "good F&SF material"? What the hell, the Smurfs have obvious fantasy themes: small blue-skinned goblins, who live in a pseudo-medieval world (at least in the original comics and cartoons), with an evil warlock as their arch-nemesis! It doesn't get any more fantastical than that. In addition, the Smurfs come from a Belgian comic background, making them more appealing to geeks. I'd seriously want to see the argument that rejects the Smurfs but accepts My Little Pony. – Andres F. May 2 '12 at 18:35

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