1) What inspired you to create ‘Mind Over Bullies’? I woke up one day and was horrified to read a story about Felicia Garcia, a 15 year old high school student from New York, who took her own life by jumping in front of a subway train because she was bullied.
As I read more about her story, I saw that her suicide was apparently to escape an onslaught of harassment from fellow students over alleged sexual encounters. Then, as I began to research the topic more, I began to see that this was not an isolated thing. Children from different areas of the country and the world were actually taking their own lives to escape from being bullied and -- needless to say -- my heart was broken.
I have to tell you that I'm terrified for my nieces and nephews going to school and having to deal with issues like bullying. I am especially concerned for the girls, which is why I chose a female lead for this comic. Young ladies and women have it rough, and some studies show that females make up the larger number of bullying victims.
I don't have kids of my own, but my nieces and nephews are like my kids. So I want them to have some confidence and be smart. The stories I work on all stem from an effort to create tools that will make those five kids smart, confident, and ready to adapt to life.
I know comic books and storybooks are not the end solution. But it’s a start and my hope is that children, teens, and adults, will benefit from every project that I work on.
2) In your own words how would you describe this story? The MOB Comic series is best described as the underdog uprising. Bullying victims usually become victims because of some perceived disadvantage on the part of their attackers.
The MOB comic is all about having a level playing field, a group that speaks up for the ones that don’t have anyone to speak up for them.
We wanted to be sure to present the idea that the characters are all everyday teens in an everyday setting, so the series start out at a typical high school and focuses on the main character, Margo Rios.
We intentionally chose a female minority lead for the comic. She experiences what many young ladies are going through in school all around the world -- peer bullying -- so we wanted to start by showing her struggle, showing her get to her lowest, and then showing her rise and emerge into a leader.
So the groups lead character (Margo) finds herself as the target of bullying by three girls that used to be her close friends and it gets so bad that it drives her to the point of trying to take her own life. She survives the suicide attempt and upon re-inserting herself into the school environment she stumbles upon a major find. She inadvertently witnesses one of her attackers experiencing what it feels like to be picked on -- which gets her mind racing!
Studies have shown that most people (children, teens and adults) bully others in an attempt to hide their own flaws or make themselves appear more powerful. Margo’s discovery impassions her to take on bullies by showing them how it feels and showing bullying victims that they are not the ones with the problem.
Of course she can’t do it alone so thats when she sets out to put together a team -- as studies have also show that having a support system greatly increase the chances of successfully handling instances of bullying.
That’s why the group calls themselves the MOB: (1) Because they are a group of smart kids that use their minds to overcome bullying -- Mind Over Bullies. And (2) Because they recognize that as a group they have a greater chance of taking on the school, the neighborhood and the world....lol!
3) If ‘MOB’ has a theme tune taken from popular culture, what song would it be and why? 'Can't Hold Us' by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, featuring Ray Dalton. I say this because it embodies what the MOB is all about -- bullying victims often feel caged in and they can have their spirit and energy taken from them as they deal with their problems. “Can’t Hold Us” is all about being the exact opposite of a victim. It's all about being free -- strong -- 'Like the ceiling can’t hold us'.
4) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your comic, what person would you get, and why would you want to choose this particular person? Wow! That’s a great question. I don’t know who exactly embodies the comic. I can tell you that it would be a female. Teen to late 30’s. She would be strong and able to appeal to males and females with her confident style.
5) What have you learnt about yourself through this endeavour? And were their any unforeseen obstacles you had to contend with along the way? This project has shown me that I can be versatile. I started off working with children’s books. Though this project can benefit small children, I see it graduating to an older teen audience and the feedback has been positive so I like that a lot.
6) Now if your comic was ever going to be made into a movie, what actor would you like to see in what role? You know, I thought about that seriously. I'm all about new talent and new things, so I have always pictured their being a casting call and finding 6 amazing multi-racial actors that no one has seen before or that are little known.
7) During your time in this field, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead? My nieces and nephews. Any project I work on all stems for concern for them. It started out as one niece. Then a nephew and another niece. And then another niece and then one last nephew. So that’s 3 nieces and 2 nephews in about a 2 year span.
I know they are going to have to live and grow in this world so I try to create projects that will provide positive messages for them.
8) If your comic had a motto, what would it be? “Being a victim is all a state of mind....Mind Over Bullies...that is”.
Thanks for that, Damon. I'm sure that 'Mind Over Bullies' will grow from strength to strength when my dear-dear readers check it out and give a it a nudge or two in the right direction. Well, there is a strong possibility that it'll be adapted into a cartoon and broadcast on the 'Cartoon Network'! Stay tuned for some more information.