How to Draw Bullies

There’s a bunch of bullies in the book that badmouth and boss and generally behave like bumheads.

In the original storyboard Norm and I had the idea to make them faceless and shadowy, shown only in silhouette until the final pages. If you can’t see their faces they become creepier… the reader can add whatever face they want to the bullies. We thought this would be clever.

When we saw it as a picture, it wasn’t clever.

Here’s one version of the faceless bullies (with an early version of Norm’s text):

bullies-original

One problem with making them faceless is that you can’t quite tell how old they are. They’re supposed to be around Josh’s age, maybe slightly older and bigger- but here they look like teenagers.

It’s a good viewpoint, but it’s too terrifying, particularly when their age is unspecified. And the obvious threat of physical abuse is not appropriate for a children’s book.

The original was worse-

earlier-bully-scene

Here you can’t tell how old they are at all. They could be 30. Horrible. It needed to change.

Now, the bullies are shown for what they are- nasty little boys. The sequence below is from the colour roughs.

p15-no-words

Wolverine was fun to draw in this sequence. He could finally show some expressions other than very happy and happy.

(Norm and Cate are still negotiating over the text for this sequence, so I’ve left it out. You’ll get to read it in the final book.)

Author: James Foley

James Foley makes children’s books for children who read books. If you’re a child and you’re eating his books, you’re doing it wrong. His books include Brobot, Dungzilla, Gastronauts, Chickensaurus, Toffle Towers, My Dead Bunny and There's Something Weird About Lena. James lives in Perth with his wife, 2 kids, and a labrador. He is a massive Marvel movie nerd and comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts. Follow him on FB/twitter/insta/youtube @jamesfoleybooks, or at www.jamesfoley.com.au .

2 thoughts on “How to Draw Bullies”

  1. To my mind, the most important thing about the portrayal of bullies in a children’s story is that we the readers come to understand why they are bullies, and what moves them to be bullies. For a superb treatment on this subject, read William Golding’s piece BILLY THE KID in the HOT GATES, published by Faber in 1965, SBN 571 09512 7 and SBN 571 06445 0

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