Select Page

Here’s something for which I don’t have the bandwidth or the skill set.

This idea came up around the house during a conversation of the long-term psychic damage done by other children when I was a child, some time ago — and how that damage isn’t unique. We’re all scarred. So a (web?) comic about that damage, and how we see it, regard it, remember it as adults, that might have some mileage. People might be able to connect with that.

I imagine several versions of this have already been done. Still, here it is.

The premise is this: Our protagonist(s) set out to revisit some of the bullies that bothered them back when. I think our protagonist is a comic creator, creating the comic just as you — the comic creator who takes up this idea — are creating a comic, too. In each issue or arc, out creator invents an encounter between him/herself and the old bully. In the world of the comic, these encounters might be by design or by chance, depending on the individual story. Maybe the protagonist meets the bully at the grocery store by happenstance, maybe they have an encounter on Facebook, maybe the protagonist seeks out one of the big bullies after long years.

So, the comic has a few layers: There’s the real-world creator, the fictional creator, the fictional creator’s fictional incarnation within the comic’s fictional world, and there’s the reader.

The idea isn’t to make a Crow-like revenge comic, though maybe the fictional creator wrestles with that idea. The idea is to, as filmmaker Brian Helgeland had Chaucer put it, “eviscerate [them] in fiction.”

The individual bullies revisited, though, each come with distinct stories. One is still a bully and needs to be taken down a peg with great wit and verbal barbs. The next has forgotten those days and doesn’t care about guilt or apologies — she’s moved on completely, teaching our fictional protagonist that such things are possible. Another bully is in a bad way, damaged by his youth, too, and suffering more than our hero/heroine and needs forgiveness and sympathy.

Eventually, maybe somebody reading the comic comes to lament and lambast the artist for his bullying back when.

The story goes on as long as it needs. Maybe it tackles bullies in chronological order. Maybe it doesn’t.

For me, it wouldn’t be a revenge fantasy for very long. It would fairly quickly become more of an anthropological study of the effects of bullying on everyone involved. It would wonder about many trajectories we take out of our youth, like debris cast out by a big bang, like we’re each scattering stellar bodies in a cold and widening cosmos. It would confront the randomness of life and try to look at how some of our life is shaped early and we spend years wrestling with that… and how sometimes things change and forget and move on.

I’d like for part of the fantasy of this tale to be about the creator’s power to get revenge through fantasy but of course that wouldn’t last. As the comic creator works, he or she comes to face the idea that even as king or queen of her own fantasy world, there are consequences and responsibilities there. There are failings.

Your version of this idea will be different from mine, of course. Maybe yours is elegant and generous, maybe it’s ruthless and cruel, maybe it’s an adventure story or maybe it’s all comedy. I’m not the boss of you.