The older I get, the more I am convinced that it’s rare to feel normal. Too smart, too stupid, too hairy, too pale, too dark, too clumsy, too graceful…everything in life is stacked against everyone, honestly.
But it’s obvious to anyone with eyes and ears that some groups bear the brunt of systemic bullying. Kids are a horrible little microcosm of humanity, without the filters and buffers we (presumably, hopefully,) develop as adults.
Awareness of bullying – and of the depths to which bullying destroys people’s humanity, whether they are victims or bullies, is increasing and increasingly reported. Not surprisingly, comic artists respond to this crisis by creating comics that are designed to take on issues surrounding bullying.
Rise: Comics Against Bullying, is a so-far two-issue anthology series published by Northwest Press, full of shorts designed to make people feel less alone, to explore all the facets of being a bullying victim or a bully and, most importantly, to increase empathy for others. In addition, proceeds of sales benefit organizations including GLAAD, Prism Comics, and Stand For The Silent.
Taking a look at people suffering from bullying as children, adults, and for any number of reasons, from health issues to cluelessness, these comics also address bullying of children by teachers, and the kind of bullying that develops in adult groups when scapegoats are chosen. Some stories included apologies later in life and others did provide closure of one kind or another – at least for the reader. Whether that closure would be sufficient in the real world when a child is being bullied by a parent or teacher is left unexplored. Like all Northwest Press comics these issues are available in print and digital versions.
Volume 1 and Volume 2 include stories that take a fanciful perspective on bullying such as children geniuses calling out a brutal teacher, or a woman with health issues who channels her migraines into superpowers.Other stories stuck with the tried and true issues of bullying of gay kids or kids who like geeky stuff in school. These also took a moment to remind us to have empathy for those bullies who are themselves abused, neglected, fearful or scared.
These stories are presented in a way that “ought” to be palatable to any young person, but I don’t know how many kids who are being bullied will feel better reading a comic about it.
Overall – 9 Art and content are variably of interest to each reader, but very good as a whole
Thanks to Northwest Press for the review copies! As a bit of feel-bad-to-feel-good comic storytelling, Rise does two things – remind us as we are not alone and help us support causes that give marginalized people voices. And that is something I can get solidly behind.