Marc Guggenheim Discusses Comics Against Bullying

Marc Guggenheim is one of the contributors to and major backers for the new comics series RISE: Comics Against Bullying, an innovative new title that uses the comics medium to collect a series of anti-bullying stories. The first issue is in comic stores now and is still available for re-order and a second issue is available to pre-order now. Plus, it was also distributed in schools across the country as a way to broadly reach out to kids.

The editors of the book asked Marc a few questions about the project and why he thought it was important to get involved. Check out the interview and preview pages below to learn more about RISE: Comics Against Bullying!

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What convinced you to join RISE as a collaborator? 

I didn’t need much convincing.  I’ve known Kristopher [White] for a number of years — we were both at ABC around the same time — and when he asked me, it was easy to say yes.  It will come as no shock to anyone who knows me that I was bullied as a child all the way up through high school, so obviously this is a topic that has a lot of personal resonance for me.  I’m glad that the problem of bullying is much more present in the national conversation today than it was when I was growing up.

Why do you think a series like this essential in the comic book market of 2015?

I think if you were to make a venn diagram of comic book readers and people who have been bullied, you’ll see a substantial amount of overlap.  That’s hardly a revolutionary notion.  My guess is that the overlap gets even greater when you look at comic book professionals and bullying.  So getting together a group of writers and artists to shed some light on this problem makes a lot of sense.

What role has bullying played in your own life? How did you overcome it?

I suppose there’s an argument to be made that I didn’t overcome it.  Like I said, I was bullied all the way through high school.  I think I was just lucky that bullying stopped being a thing — for me, at least — when I went away to college.  In fact, I remember a night where I bumped into one of my former bullies up at college and he couldn’t be more friendly.  It was weird.  It was like, “Okay, we’re past that now.”  But I don’t think you ever really get past it.  Those experiences are part of what makes you who you are.  The good news is that I like who I am today, but man, growing up was hard.

Could you have benefit from something like RISE when you were a kid? 

I definitely think so.  I would have benefited from anything that could show me that bullying wasn’t just a problem I was facing.  There’s a tendency for kids — and some adults — to think that something is only happening to them.  Projects like RISE help to make the point that that’s not the case.

What do you think comic book retailers can do to help combat bullying in the comic book community?

Honestly?  Keep an eye out.  I find it hard to believe that acts of bullying don’t happen — at least occasionally — in or around their stores.  I remember as a kid being bullied and just hoping — praying — that an adult would come by to break it up.  But there’s a tendency for adults to turn the other way.  It’s “oh, they’re just being kids.”  Or “well, boys will be boys.”  Or “it’s not my problem.”  Well, guess what?  If you see someone being bullied — particularly if physical force is involved or threatened — then you’re witnessing a crime.  Just examine it from that perspective for a moment.  It’s a crime.  One you — and all of us adults — can stop if we’re just paying attention and not writing it off.

What are your hopes for this series and its reach?

They’re twofold.  First, I hope that the series itself reaches as many people as possible, particularly those who suffer bullying on a regular basis.  They should know that they’re not alone and that this problem isn’t limited to just them.  Second, I hope that the individual stories offer some hope or inspiration.  I wrote mine to make the point that eventually things get better.  When you’re growing up, it feels like that’s your entire life — and it is, up to that point, of course — but it’s not your entire life.  It’s just the beginning of it.

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