In his semi autobiographical comic Something Terrible, Dean Trippe explores the theme of sexual abuse, which he himself was a victim of in his youth, detailed in the afterword at the end. Although its certainly a difficult topic to address, he handles it with enough care that the comic is bound to make an impact.
Although no explicit details are shown, we see enough to be told what needs to be told. The sticking visual style of the book (huge panels, black and white with a bluish grey tint, minimal text) lets you know right away what you are in for, which is certainly not an easy read. And despite only lasting 18 pages, Trippe creates something that once read, will never be forgotten.
We see Trippe as a child, longing so desperately to escape from the cruelty and abuse that he has been subjected to that he tries to enter another world, a world of excitement and adventure, a world filled with all the characters that we grew up with.
What Trippe is saying is that children who have been abused need worlds to escape to. And escape he does, into a world filled with just about every licensed hero imaginable, in what is the only colored panel in the comic (copyright!?). As Batman promises him “you’ll be safe here”. In the afterward, Trippe states that because Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman helped him to overcome the childhood trauma of the deaths of his parents, he dislikes depictions of Batman where he is crazy or on the edge. Heroes have a much deeper meaning to Trippe, too bad there are no superheroes in real life because, goodness knows, we need them.
Trippe’s anger is palpable as he quotes from a crime profile, which says that the idea that people subjected to sexual abuse are likely to become offenders is unlikely, and that offenders were unlikely to have been abused. The theme of suicide is also addressed, but as Batman tells him; “no guns”. Clearly he wishes more people to be aware of sexual abuse and how it will never leave the victim.
In order to have opened up about his experiences, let alone write a comic book about them, Trippe could possibly be remembered as changing the direction that comics are going in and how people perceive them.
By the way, Something Terrible deserves an impulse buy because one panel shows Batman stepping out of the TARDIS, something you will never see anywhere else.
To get your hands on Something Terrible, follow the link here.