“Power Within” Anti-Bullying Comic Available From Diamond as #JUL111189
Anti-bullying Comic Book from Northwest Press Available from Diamond Comic Distributors as item #JUL111189
The Power Within, an anti-bullying comic book written by Charles “Zan” Christensen and drawn by Mark Brill, is now available for order by comics retailers through Diamond Comic Distributors, and will be shipping in August. The 32-page color comic book, published by Northwest Press, tackles the serious topic of gay teen harassment and suicide in a novel way, and features bonus contributions by popular comics talents including Phil Jimenez, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka and Dan Parent. A preview of the book is available at the Northwest Press website.
The book focuses on Shannon, a boy starting the eighth grade who has a history of being harassed at school. Whenever he’s being bullied and feeling overwhelmed, Shannon retreats into the fantasy of a super-powered alter ego who’s more than capable of dealing with any situation.
“Most of us who grew up gay have tried, at one time or another, to hide,” says writer Charles “Zan” Christensen. “Shannon is one of those unlucky kids who can’t seem to ‘fly under the radar’ and avoid attention, and has to defend himself from anti-gay bullying at a time when everything already seems overwhelming and difficult. Mark and I both turned to comic books and fantasy when we were younger to get a break from the hassles of teen life, and we decided to take that experience even further and show just how far Shannon has to retreat into a fantasy world to survive.”
In addition to the 25-page main story, there are contributions by nine popular comics creators, including writer Gail Simone, who’s best known for her work with DC Comics on books such as Birds of Prey and Secret Six, and who will be writing the upcoming Fury of Firestorm series.
Simone recorded a video in May which promoted the publisher’s Kickstarter fundraising effort for The Power Within, which ultimately raised over $4000 to put toward printing costs. Northwest Press will be distributing copies free of charge to youth services organizations and other groups who want to use the book to reach out to gay teens.
“One reason I’m involved in this project is that bullying has always been something that’s disturbed me greatly from the time I was actually very, very small,” says Simone. “I remember first incidents at four years old. Most everybody I know has experienced bullying at some time but last year, with things coming to light in the news of bullying of gay people, and cyber-bullying, bullying because of race or whatever the reason was, it’s just become so treacherous and so hateful that I feel that this project is as important as ever, if not more so. Which is why I’m involved in it.”
Simone’s contribution to the project is a single-page story about a superhero who realizes he’s going too far and is forgetting what being a hero means. The comic is illustrated by Phil Jimenez, artist on such books as Amazing Spider-Man, New X-Men and Wonder Woman.
Other contributors include Greg Rucka, writer of Detective Comics featuring Batwoman, and Matthew Clark, artist on Wonder Woman and Outsiders, who contribute a two page story about speaking up to put a stop to bullying when you witness it. Writer Andy Mangels, novelist and editor of Gay Comics, and Donna Barr, creator of The Desert Peach, deliver a comic that explores what kids want to be when they grow up (which is probably not a bully).
The book also features beautiful full-page illustrations from Dan Parent, creator of Archie’s first openly gay character Kevin Keller; Stephen Sadowski, the artist on Dynamite Comics’ Warlord of Mars and DC Comics’ JSA; and Carla Speed McNeil, the creator of FINDER, now published by Dark Horse Comics.
The Power Within includes a foreword by Christensen, as well as a page of anti-bullying resources for LGBT teens and discussion questions so the book can be used as a teaching aid.
The book is currently available for order by comics retailers through Diamond Comic Distributors under item #JUL111189 and retails for $4.99. Youth and teachers’ organizations interested in getting free copies of the book can visit thepowerwithin.org to request them.