Awhile back I was asked by Kurt Kolka to write a preface for a book featuring his character the Cardinal and a story dealing with bullying. Almost from the first week in Funky, I’ve been taking on this topic in the strip so I was more than happy to add to Kurt’s take on the subject. The book is also a flip book with the flip side containing comments on bullying from a number of well known comics creators. If anything, the problem of bullying seems to be more pervasive than ever and a book like this is long overdue. I congratulate Kurt and I’m glad to have been asked to take part. The following is my preface for the book:
When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, they were firing the opening shot in the comics’ war on bullies. Reaching back to the Golem, a legendary defender of the Jewish nation, they fused it with the pulp sensibilities of the times to create someone who would fuel the fantasies and desires of school kids across America. A hero who would set right the wrongs of an unfair world.
Comics today are accused of presenting a dystopian view of the world, but the first dystopian world I ever encountered was called a Junior High School. Junior High is where social and physical bullying are distilled and refined and turned into an art form. It’s where you run smack into the real world and learn that people can do things that are not always nice, not always fair, and which are sometimes downright evil. Owlhoots, ne’r-do-wells, and pettifoggers abound, and daily survival runs the gamut from knowing which restrooms to avoid to where and with whom it’s safe to sit at lunch.
Superman and all that followed provided a safe haven where you could count on bullies getting their comeuppance and things being set right. A world where heroes set a shining example of what was right and what was wrong and how with great power necessarily comes great responsibility.
In The Cardinal, Kurt Kolka has given us a hero in that grand tradition. And in A Bullying Story a morality play that tackles the issue head on with a story of hurt, pain and eventual redemption. A story that in our cyber age is sadly needed more than ever.
I think Jerry and Joe would have liked it.