October 13, 2014

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Rise Against Bullying in New Kickstarter Project

A gathering of amazing creators (many of whom are also some of the best people I know in comics) have come together under the Northwest Press banner for a publishing project geared to target the growing problem of bullying.

Rise Comics Against Bullying is the latest effort to use the visual medium to raise attention to a serious problem, one that I admit foiled my efforts to stop when I was active in the classroom. It seems like it's something we all agree should stop--but keep on going.

Working alongside several organizations (GLAAD, Stand for the Silent, and Prism Comics), Northwest Press has started this Kickstarter in order to be able to distribute the comic free to students and schools, via Stand for the Silent. Most notably here is that they intend to share it both in print editions and digital copies, allowing it to potentially reach those who are already reading stuff on the phones they're not supposed to be bringing to school.

Art by Dennis Culver
The talent on this one is a murder's row of people I've read an reviewed over the years. Creators include:
  • Adam P. Knave (Amelia ColeNever Ending)
  • Carolyn Belefski (Curls)
  • Chris Haley 
  • Chris Roberson (iZombieSuperman, Monkeybrain Comics)
  • Dennis Culver (Edison Rex, Davey Jones, Nailbiter)
  • Dirk Manning (Nightmare WorldTales of Mr. Rhee)
  • Geoffrey D. Wessel
  • Howard Chaykin (American FlaggCody StarbuckBlack Kiss)
  • Jeff Marsick (Newsarama.comZ-Girl and the 4 Tigers)
  • Marc Andreyko (TorsoCaptain America & BuckyManhunter)
  • Marc Guggenheim (ArrowGreen Lantern)
  • Rafer Roberts
Art by Chris Haley
And those are just the ones who stand out to me from an extremely long list of creators who credits are both long and short. Only short previews were made available right now, so I cannot speak to the stories themselves. However, I trust the folks above to be able to craft stories that touch on the subject in a manner that will actually be compelling. Many of them either already do comics work for this age group or are parents themselves.

The nice thing is that they aren't taking a unified approach. For example, while Culver and Roberson are using Edison Rex for their story, Knave is stepping out of the world of Amelia Cole (though it would have been cool to see Haley, his collaborator on this one, draw her). The press release explains the story variety:
 The stories combat bullying through a variety of voices and tones. “Reversal of Fortune,” a story by Marc Guggenheim (ArrowGreen Lantern) and Howard Chaykin (American FlaggCody StarbuckBlack Kiss), reunites a bully and his victim at a high-school reunion to show how time heals all wounds. “Barbie and the Boy,” by Brad Bell (Husbands: The Series) and George Zapata, looks at the pressure kids feel when what they want goes against the societal norm. Spencer Perry and Jed Dougherty’s “Freak Show” puts a fresh spin on the Frankenstein myth. Other stories, such as Adam P. Knave and Chris Haley’s “Tipping Point,” take a much lighter tone to get their message across. 
 In addition, two of those involved on the production side added their reasons for putting Rise together:
“Comics can reach kids in a way that other media can't," said Charles “Zan” Christensen, owner of Northwest Press. "They're accessible, they're engaging, and readers can easily see themselves in the shoes of these characters. Our hope is that the stories in RISE can be used as conversation starters and help change things for the better.”
"For kids being bullied and made to feel isolated, stories like those featured in RISE can help them understand that they are not alone in what they're going through,” said Matt Kane, Director of Entertainment Media for GLAAD. “They too can make it through okay and have stories worth telling."​​
Art by Brad Bell

In order for this to happen, they need to reach at least $10,000 in funding. As of this writing, they were a little past the 25% mark. Rewards tiers scale up pretty quickly on this one, but in this case, you're donating to a charity, not just getting a comic published.

For $5, you're acknowledged, and at $10 you receive the first two issues of the series digitally. Going up to $25 nets you physical copies, then at $50 and up, the rewards scale into the usual print, original art, editorial review, etc levels.

Rise is a great project that I believe firmly in, and I hope that you'll support it. Maybe this won't end bullying, but if it saves the life--either physically or emotionally--of just one kid, it will be worth any and all that it raises.

You can visit (and fund) the Rise Kickstarter here.