The 1980s were the 1950s on amphetamines. Every year brought new shock, different jocks, weird hair, and brighter clothing lines every other weekend that you went shopping at the enclosed mall department stores. But not every day was sweet as a Skittle. For those stuck in the subdivisions of their grade schools, there was still trouble to avoid in the hallways, and that angst is captured in Skottie Young’s Bully Wars TP (9781534310445) from Image Comics!
Vince Brusio: What traumatic childhood experience is responsible for this book? Give it up! Or is this Revenge of The Nerds comic book-style? C’mon, adoring comic fans everywhere are eager to hear your DVD extras commentary.
Skottie Young: Hahaha, it’s definitely more of growing up watching 80’s movies like Real Genius, Revenge of the Nerds, Goonies, etc. And a bit of me having kids now and seeing some of this stuff play out in real life or in the books that they read. We talked about the idea of playing with the POV of the normal bully in stories.
Vince Brusio: Any schlocky 80s pop culture junk food help you to build the castles in this sandbox? Might we recognize some familiar grade school tropes? What’s the backdrop for Bully Wars?
Aaron Conley: I'm an 80s kid through and through, so that kind of stuff is always rolling around in my head. I think for me it's the over-doing it, tons of bracelets, big hair, shaved lightning bolts into hair, big high tops, TMNT action figures, acne and just a gross overload of slimy boogers and goop. But I was in high school during the 90s so there's some of that in there, too. Hock is sort of a big grunge bully, I was never really into grunge so maybe I feel like that whole genre of music bullied me haha!
Skottie Young: I’m with Aaron, I’m a kid of the 80’s. So I think the school and the clothes and the toys and all that will be drawn from the era we came from, even if we’re not really giving this a year.
Vince Brusio: Who are the faces in this story? Who are the overbearing personalities? Who are the underdogs? Please, tell us about these kids in your book that are quite aware of what they’re going through.
Skottie Young: On one side, there’s Rufus. The kid that’s been bullying since the crib. He wants nothing more than to walk right into school and bully the whole place. It brings him joy, for whatever twisted reason.
Then there’s Hock and the rest of the bullies in school. Rufus realizes not only is there a bigger bully, but there are several and he’s not at the top of the pile anymore. In fact, he’s at the bottom and isn’t happy about it.
Finally there’s Spencer, and his twin best friends, Edith and Ernie. They are in-between it all, the ones who get bullied. But when Spencer realizes Rufus is joining the bullied group, he sees an opening that could change the entire course of their freshman year.
Vince Brusio: What can you tell us about some of the brainstorming that went into this book? Any ideas get left on the cutting room floor? Or did you guys hit the ground running, and throw caution to the wind so that chaos was without handcuffs?
Aaron Conley: Yeah, there was a good bit of fun back and forth with this. I did a lot of different designs for certain characters before we really hit the nail on the head. But from there I've gone pretty crazy with most of it. Skottie's feedback now is usually just, "Awesome." haha! The character designs have now grown in ways I never saw coming, and seem to be doing it all on their own these days.
Skottie Young: There was a brief couple of hours on Thanksgiving where we were going to make the entire book some sort of cosmic Kirby-esque setting but decided we were already down a pretty good path. But don’t worry, we have talked since and could very well figure out how to deal with that and make it happen within the world we’re building. That’s how wacky and free it is when we you make books at Image Comics. Anything goes.
Vince Brusio: What do you enjoy most about working on this book, and do you see yourself taking that fun factor to the next level as the story progresses?
Skottie Young: I’m done writing the entire first story arc and I’m dying to get to the 2nd. We nailed a setting that is fun and funny and we’re going to amp up the weird for sure.
Aaron Conley: For me it's all about topping my last weirdo facial expression and never repeating. Plus, with as much as goes into Rufus's character design. He is a blast to draw every time!
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.