Belltime by David Robertson
We all love body-swap time travel stories don’t we? Big, Freaky Friday and yes, Peggy Sue Got Married. Whether we are young and wish we were old, or old and wish we were young. Imagine you could go back to school with all the knowledge and maturity that you have now. Imagine you could undo all those mistakes. Say the right thing to that girl/boy, choose the subject you really wanted, avoid going home that way like you did the night you got jumped.
Sounds good? Of course it would not be like that. Different choices just lead to different mistakes. And who wants to have a middle aged brain surrounded by young people. You would have nothing to say, you would be an outcast, a weirdo.
In Belltime, the swap goes the other way. Young Lenny is going through the usual school struggles, dodging eggs and dealing with teachers. With the ring of a bell that only he can hear he finds himself older and in charge of the school library. He struggles to find his way around his new life. With a new life comes not freedom but new responsibilities.
He is in charge of the kids who visit his library, but how does this manifest itself? His attempts at discipline show the challenges of being an adult, having responsibility…a thankless task? Not entirely thankless but certainly tough. His experiences help him see the teachers at his school in a new light.
The art style of Belltime has clear echoes of Bash Street, fitting for a comic that is straight out of Dundee – the real Beanotown. The legacy of Leo Baxendale and David Sutherland seeps through British comics and is a welcome element of Belltime. One kid looks like an older version of Oor Wullie…Wullie with a bumfluff moustache and an attitude.
The story is based on David’s real experiences as a school librarian, with the feeling of timeslip that came along with it. The narrative structure works well and the author is developing as a writer and story teller in a really interesting way.
You can pick up Belltime as well as other stories from David at Thought Bubble 2019.
As well as Thought Bubble you can find David at http://fredeggcomics.blogspot.com/