Tag Archives: Bullying

Review: PLANET OF THE NERDS #1

PLANET OF THE NERDS #1

We all experience bullies in one form or another–you just can’t escape them. Collectively, many of us are dealing with being bullied by the President of the United States. It is a phenomena many of us (I would really like to say ALL of us) hope will never happen again. Donald Trump has been a bully for decades. He was the model for one of pop culture’s most infamous bullies, Biff Tannen, from the Back to the Future franchise. Well, Paul Constant channels Biff Tannen in his script for a very funny and refreshing new comic book, Planet of the Nerds, published by AHOY Comics.

AHOY Comics? you may ask. I know. It’s new and it’s made a lot of promises that it has attached to its name: A is for Abundance. H is for Humor. O is for Originality. And Y is for YES! AHOY founder Hart Seely is a former newspaper man and he’s serious about wanting to provide something substantial to the comic book market. So far, it does look good for AHOY as they have hit the ground running with a nice mix of titles: The Wrong Earth finds a superhero and supervillain trading places; High Heaven gives a chronic complainer his comeuppance; Captain Ginger is an all-out cats-in-outerspace adventure; and Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror is sort of a revisit to Tales of the Crypt. Part of the next wave of titles is Planet of the Nerds. All these titles share a really fun format that includes the feature story, a background story, plus a surprise grab bag that can include prose and even poetry.

Chad pummels Alvin Ad Infinitum

Getting back to Planet of the Nerds, this first issue packs a wallop thanks to the upbeat script by Constant as well as the impressive work by the rest of the creative team which includes artist Alan Robinson and colorist Felipe Sobreiro. The opener finds our bully, Chad, center stage as he pummels Alvin, a hapless fellow high school student. Chad is as stereotypical a bully as you’ll ever care to find. And Alvin is as stereotypical a misfit as you’ll ever see. And perhaps therein lies a wonderful opportunity to play with some well-worn tropes. Will Chad just keep whomping on Alvin? Will Alvin just keep being a doormat? It is a pure dichotomy, a Zen-like premise, a perfect paring of yin and yang. Constant breaks things up by having Chad’s two allies, Steve and Drew, act more human than henchmen. And the initial setting for the story is the late ’80s complete with all its excess and naivete. One of the best lines in this first issue is from Jenny, Steve’s girlfriend, who sweetly mocks his naturally meek demeanor: “If a man in a brown van tries to give you candy, just say, ‘No!'” Ah, nostalgic young love! The art by Robinson and the colors by Sobreiro conspire to provide just the right retro look reminiscent of the work of Ed Piskor.

Cover artist David Nakayama

Suffice it to say, everything is set for a rollicking good adventure. It will be no spoiler to say that this is something of a time travel story. AHOY says as much in their promo copy. And there is definitely a Back to the Future vibe going on here. The future in this case is our own era, a time that would leave any kid from the ’80s doing double takes. Chad, the ultimate nerd hater must come face to face with a world where, as we’ve heard so often, the nerds have won. But have they, really? I don’t know that this comic will fully answer that question but you just never know.
Planet of the Nerds #1 is available as of April 17th, published by AHOY Comics. For more details, and how to purchase, go right here.
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Filed under AHOY Comics, Bullies, Bullying, Comics, Comics Reviews, Geeks, Nerds, Paul Constant

Review: THE BULLY’S BULLY

Bullys-Bully-Courtney-Huddleston-James-Taylor

“The Bully’s Bully” is a unique webcomic, and book, on the subject of bullying. It tackles the issue with a lot of grit. I don’t recommend this for the youngest of readers simply because of it’s spirited, and intense, depiction of violence. We can discuss that. Overall, it’s a solid work in comics. But, be warned, this gets the equivalent of a PG-13 rating. Story and art by Courtney Huddleston and James Taylor, this is an impressive production. The look and feel would do proud any animation house or comics publisher. I would describe it as a clean and polished house style. And, as the title implies, this is a book about bullies. Or, more precisely, a girl with a lot of guts, who is out there to defend, and encourage, victims of bullies. She is going to do her best to set things straight.

You’ll find here a collection of stories that follow our heroine on her quest to stop bullying. The comics are wordless throughout. We don’t have a name for our main character other than Bully’s Bully, or B.B., for short. There are a wide spectrum of scenarios to be found here ranging from a hunting story to a story set in the inner city. The feature story finds B.B. locking horns with one of the most diabolical villains, under 18, you’re likely to find. He looks a bit like Pugsley from the Addams Family.

“The Bully’s Bully” is a webcomic and, when this B.B. vs. Pugsley story first ran, it caused quite a commotion regarding the violence. So, what exactly is the deal here? Well, this Pugsley boy has no qualms about punching B.B. right in the gut, starting at page 26, and repeatedly attempts to smack her around and worse. He also has no problem with slamming a puppy into a tree, which is shown in one panel. Is this too much? Yes, without a doubt. If it walks and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. So, emphatically, I tell you this is one very disturbed duck. If there’s another spin to it, I’d say that these disturbing scenes certainly do evoke the terror a bully can inflict. However, that could have been achieved differently. As it is, you lose the younger readers.

Well, that’s what can happen when you choose to turn up the volume to eleven. Unfortunately, everything is thrown out of balance with such an extreme shift in tone. Oh, I know, I know, you may wonder if I’m overreacting. But, no, I’m not. I think it’s better to speak to these issues than simply go along to get along. You can find plenty of reviews like that already. And I’m not against this book. I am concerned about the fact that younger readers will be attracted to it and could get sucker punched by the content. That said, in the real world, kids can and do get hurt. So, sure, it’s a tricky situation. With all this in mind, if you have a notion of getting this book for a young reader or pointing him or her to the website, try the book or webcomic out and see for yourself beforehand.

You can buy your copy of The Bully’s Bully 152-page trade paperback on Amazon right here.

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Filed under Bullies, Bullying, Comics, Comics Reviews

Review: TUSK by Kevin Smith

Tusk-Kevin-Smith

“Tusk,” Kevin Smith’s new horror-comedy about a man who is literally transformed into a walrus, is a different animal of a movie in more ways than one. Smith delivers on the thrills and chills of full-on horror and masterfully interlaces humor in unexpected ways. One of the strangest treats will come in the third act with Johnny Depp, unrecognizable as detective Guy Lapointe. Depp’s brilliantly odd performance adds to the weirdness of an already weird but truly worthy cinematic voyage. When he’s on the screen, you know that someone of a high caliber is playing with the ooey gooey elements of zany humor. Credit Mr. Depp and credit Mr. Smith for that.

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Filed under Comedy, Horror, Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Movie Reviews, movies

Interview: MATTHEW JOHNSON Director of THE DIRTIES

The-Dirties-Matt-Johnson-Kevin-Smith-2013

Matthew Johnson is the director, co-writer, and starring actor in a film not without its controversy, “The Dirties.” It is a film about a school shooting which makes it vulnerable from the start. However, it navigates its subject with a level of self-awareness that gives it a sense of honesty. In other words, this is not a movie out to make a fast buck. What keeps it real is Matthew Johnson.

It is Columbine that springs to mind when Johnson is asked about what compelled the making of this movie. It is the issue that he had to confront when he was in high school. How do you address that horror, and all the others before and since, and avoid preaching in favor of making of art? What this movie does is use the dynamic of a documentary for all its worth.

Instead of the old traditional Hollywood route, and its hyperreality, “The Dirties” uses the found footage genre to tell a simple and direct story about bullying and school violence. A balance is struck between incorporating actual high school students and schools with the actors. The result is understated, down-to-earth, and very believable.

Matt (Matthew Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams) are two misfits struggling to survive high school. Maybe they will find satisfying revenge from their bullies through their film project. Early on, we peg Matt as the overzealous one and Owen as the passive follower. We already know that this will not end well and that it is most likely going to focus on Matt. What will be Matt’s breaking point? As Johnson points out, “The Dirties” begins where most stories like this end. We actually get to learn something about the Matt character.

The following interview took place October 11, 2013. Matthew talks about the complex issue of bullies, the sweet pursuit of obscure references, Lena Dunham, mumblecore, Quentin Tarantino, Sacha Baron Cohen, and a glimpse of what lies ahead. As for what lies ahead, that seems a quite proper place for a young talent in search of the truth.

Click below for the podcast interview:

Phase 4 and the Kevin Smith Movie Club are proud to present THE DIRTIES. Winner of the 2013 Slamdance Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film.

Visit THE DIRTIES website here.

Synopsis: When two best friends team up to film a comedy about getting revenge on bullies, the exercise takes a devastating turn when one of them begins to think of it as more than a joke.

Director: Matt Johnson
Starring: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams
Screenplay: Matt Johnson, Evan Morgan

Available In Theaters and On Demand as of October 4, 2013

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Filed under Independent Film, Indie, Interviews, mumblecore