Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mike Dawson and Troop 142 at Midtown Comics Book Club

You will get this poster
once you read the book.
Our November book club featured Troop 142 and its creator, Mike Dawson. As always, Midtown Comics' Thor Parker was our fabulous moderator. It was such a fun night with lots of laughs.

This post is SPOILER-FILLED so if you are allergic to spoilers,
go read another tasty article on [insertgeekhere].

In case you haven't read Troop 142, here is the lowdown. This tale follows Boy Scout Troop 142 on their week-long summer camp. The boys work hard, earn badges, do drugs, torture each other, and grow bacteria in spam. So basically, being regular teenage boys. But before you start thinking this is just a kids' tale, this story addresses sexuality, drugs, self-esteem and institutional mentality.

I truly enjoyed this story.  As a lifelong, proud Girl Scout, this brought back my own fond memories of summer camp.  While we weren't as gross as the boys, we still had similar experiences.  I also appreciated the honest look at Boy Scouts.  The organization has had a lot of problems in the past, especially surrounding religion and homosexuality.   However, this story also touched upon the positives of the organization - the important skills and traits developed.  I have always credited scouting for teaching me responsibility, morality, woodworking and honor, among other traits.  For any scout or non-scout that reads this book, I hope that you feel the good as well as the bad.

There were a few boy scouts in the audience, so the discussion felt less question & answer and more conversational. It was a nice change and had a relaxing feel.  Here are some of the highlights:

Dawson was an active Boy Scout as a teen. Despite all of his hard work, he missed out on the Eagle badge, Boy Scout's top honor, by one badge - Personal Management. Dawson did admit that some of the things in Troop 142 were based in his memories from camp. He remarked that the closing group campfire was one thing that he remembered and not fondly. He also said that he had to rescue the bowling ball from the bottom of the lake, just like in the book.   

I had to ask him about his feelings about Boy Scouts. Dawson said that he did appreciate his time in the scouts, despite any disagreements he had with the organization. Despite his precious memories, he isn't in any rush to head back out to the woods.

As you may know, Troop 142 was originally a web series. It is not a traditional web comic because it has a graphic novel feel. Dawson said he posted panels as he wrote and drew it. He recommends doing a web series because it is a good way to get attention. "Being published does not mean that people are aware of your work."

However, Dawson does think that Troop 142 should be a graphic novel, not a web series. He thinks it stunk as installments because it just seemed that it was kids being mean. Hard to build on feelings in a weekly story.

The story showed a lot of different forms of bullying. As Dawson says, bullying is a universal experience. He wanted to show all of the kids dishing it out. There were also adults who weren't always nice, like Mr. Demarra. His character was a strict guy for most of the book, but had a redemption moment at the end. Through this character, Dawson was able to express the concept that so many kids don't even show up to scouts but just "being there and trying" is important.

There was one kid, Chuck, who was the outcast, who was constantly attacked. While in most stories he would have been redeemed by the end, in Troop 142 he just keeps being disliked. Dawson says that's because he believes that some people aren't good people, even as teens. It's a sort of depressing view but even I can admit that I met teens and adults who seem like they will never be nice.

He is writing a new book but is trying to keep it under wraps. Dawson decided to skip the web route this time so he doesn't need to work quickly.

This is definitely one of my favorite graphic novels, so huge recommendation from me. The December Book Club is early because of the holidays. It is on Dec. 7 featuring The Boy Who Loved Batman by Michael Uslan.

Like what you just read? Let us know in the comments below and keep up to date by following us on TwitterFacebook and Tumblr!

No comments:

Post a Comment