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A Taste of Bullying in the Real World
…and Another Not So Much

or

Books For the Bullied

by Scott Tingley, November 05, 2006

High up on the list of lies that we adults tell kids, even if we believe that lie to be true, is that all you have to do to get a bully to leave you alone is to stand up to the bully. This is “criminals are a cowardly lot” type of thinking that works for Batman, but not always for kids. Sometimes standing up to a bully gets you left alone, but sometimes it gets you beaten up or tormented even more.

John Bintz' A Moment of Clarity vol 1 , the “hero” Johnny comes up against his tormentor time and time again to worsening results. Each time he tries to stand up in his own way, by using humor, once even throwing a spitball at the bully. Sometimes it gets him knocked down, and sometimes it gets him chased through the neighborhood to a beating.

Eventually Johnny stands his ground in such a way that it finally takes. The bully goes off to find a weaker victim that won't cause him so much trouble. Sometimes that is the best result a kid can get for himself – pass the problem onto someone else.

The story does not exactly portray a bullying scenario the way it happens in the real world, but it is closer than most I have seen. The whole book does not revolve around this one theme, which I think is one of its strengths. There is a lot going on in Johnny's life. There is a cute girl he has a crush on, he is hanging around playing video games with his friends, he is dealing with crazy teachers, and he has an incident with younger kids when he tries to make a quick buck by renting out his bike. The book is a lot of fun, and I was pleasantly surprised. The very first page set the stage and won me over.

 

The art is like that of a newspaper comic strip and it fits for the tone of the story. You can see more for yourself HERE, but the book itself is black + white.

Standing up for yourself is one way to take care of bullies; another way is to get your very own ninja to scare them away. Sounds so crazy it just might work. That is the way writer/artist Joshua Elder comes up with in his new Manga (those Japanese translated comic digests everyone seems to be reading in bookstore aisles) Mail Order Ninja . In this book, Jimmy McAllister orders his very own ninja from a mail order catalogue (just buy into that concept…just go with it). The stereotypical bullies are dealt with pretty quickly, but the social bully (often more damaging to the self esteem of kids) is a little harder to deal with. Jimmy decides to use his new freedom (and ninja) to run for school president. The rich girl bully of the school takes exception to her own power being challenged, so she….well what would you do if you were incredibly rich and spoiled if some regular kid had a ninja? You guessed it. As the books ends, she gets here very own ninja warrior.

This is a sillier take on the bully problem, of course. Elder employs a popular art style and format for his work, and it results in a fun read. It does not tell the whole story, as it is continued in volume 2 (not out yet), but the price is so good, that getting your chld hooked on this series certainly won't break the bank.

Mail Order Ninja (click for a preview) is 5.99 US (7.99 Can) and recommended by the company for ages 8-10 (black and white, and aprox. 90 pages). It can be ordered through bookstores and comic stores.

A Moment of Clarity is 11.00 US , but is 172 pages long (also Black and White), so you get a lot of reading for your buck. It can be ordered HERE (previews here as well). It is recommended by the creator for ages 10 and up, but I think if the child is a strong reader, it would be acceptable for younger.

Both are fun: one might be a good resource to give to a bullied kid so she doesn't feel alone in being bullied, and the other might give a silly release.

If you know of any other ways that bullying is being dealt with in comics, please let me know.


Any questions or comments, contact me at comicsintheclassroom @ gmail.com



 

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