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"Scared by the Bell #4" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Scared By The Bell 4 00

Written, illustrated, colored, and lettered by Dylan Campbell
2019, 28 Pages

Review:

If you thought your middle school was scary, just wait until you see what Peter has to deal with. He's a human kid in a school full of monsters. No, we're not talking about some overgrown bully. These are literal monsters like vampires, werewolves, and mummies. He's found a friend in Goldilocks (yes, that Goldilocks), but she's rather selfish and condescending. With hormones flying everywhere, he gets wrapped up in an adventure with her that shows the true scale of this new school and all the wonders it contains.

Scared by the Bell is adorable. Yes, it deals with monsters, but it's definitely made for the younger reader. Peter is the perfect protagonist for this book because he's equal parts overwhelmed and astonished. Every time he thinks he's got this place figured out, some new creature walks in and throws everything for a loop. Plus, this is still his first day!

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Goldilocks presents an interesting perspective for Peter. She's another human, so he gravitates towards her and begins to develop feelings for her. The thing is, she's kind of mean, specifically to the monsters. She calls mummies “ragheads”, which feels really offensive. While Peter is still freaked out by these monsters, he's going to have to learn that they're not all trying to eat him...except maybe the vampire.

Creator Dylan Campbell created a fun atmosphere for Scared by the Bell. His art style is cartoonish, which is a nice fit for the tone of the story. The monsters are usually drawn in shadows, which adds to their mystique, but doesn't make them too scary. This is how Peter sees them.

This issue gives him a different look at Maggie, the gorgon since Peter gets a peek at her diary. Campbell changes the style for these pages to look just like a kid's journal. It's shown on lined paper and drawn with ballpoint pens. This gives an entirely new point of view for Maggie, one of awkward vulnerability and more importantly, one that shows how she's not that different from Peter. She wants the same kinds of things that he does. It's just that she has snakes for hair.

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While these lessons may seem overt, they're weaved into the story in an organic way. You come to these conclusions on your own without Peter having to spell out what's going on or a “More You Know” banner flying across the page. This is great for the middle grade audience as they can read into the story and develop their own feelings about it.

Scared by the Bell is a fun horror comic geared towards a younger audience. It plays with the fears that all middle school students have, replacing awkward teenagers with monsters. I'm always on the lookout for ways to introduce the horror genre to my kids without freaking them out and Scared by the Bell is a great example of this done right.

Dylan Campbell is currently running a Kickstarter to fund the release of Scared by the Bell #4. If you want to check out the book before backing, you can read it as a webcomic here.

Grades:

Story: Fourstars Scared By The Bell 4 Small
Art: Threeandahalfstars
Overall: Fourstars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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