Chartwell Manor

Glenn Head. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (244p) ISBN 978-1-68396-425-4
This harrowing memoir from Head (Chicago) breaks through the facade of upper-middle-class New England life like a wrecking ball, exposing the damage wrought by the abusive, pedophilic head of a “British-style” boarding school in New Jersey. In 1971, 13-year-old “Glen” is sent to Chartwell Manor and becomes one of the victims of headmaster Terence Lynch, “slimier than any Dick Tracy villain.” Lynch kisses and fondles the boys under his supervision, gives them “hernia exams,” creeps into their rooms at night, and slickly grooms them for molestation. He also subjects them to severe corporal punishment: “Everybody gets hit,” Glen is informed by jaded upperclassmen. Glen grows up into an alcoholic and self-destructive young man, and since his parents won’t discuss the past—“What good will it do?” —he looks up former classmates and finds he was far from the only long-term casualty. Head’s appropriately gritty alt-comix artwork adeptly evokes both the pristine exteriors of the New Jersey suburbs and the hidden landscapes littered with cigarettes, junk food wrappers, and the detritus of brawls. His art shows the influence of classic underground cartoonists like Spain and S. Clay Wilson, and in particular, the searing confessionals of autobio comics pioneer Justin Green. Unflinchingly honest and hypnotically powerful, this is a standout entry on the shelf of the great graphic autobiographies. (June)
Reviewed on : 06/03/2021
Release date: 05/01/2021
Genre: Comics
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