Glenn Head didn’t wait 50 years simply to drag punches. After all, he survived a toddler’s waking nightmare at the arms of a pervert – to not point out the self-destructive sex-and-substance abuse streak it spawned in his maturity. He didn’t get out alive by throwing fights.
Don’t let that whimsical cowl artwork throw you: “Chartwell Manor,” the veteran cartoonist’s harrowing new graphic memoir, recounts his two years at the Mendham, NJ boarding school run by headmaster “Sir” Terence Michael Lynch — a serial sexual abuser who manipulated younger boys into “cuddling sessions” after fondling and beating their nude our bodies.
Head’s “bland, suburban” existence was shattered at 13 when he scored subpar marks in the seventh grade. On a wet Sunday in fall 1971, his dad and mom despatched him packing to the flamboyant “British-stye” prep school hyped as a haven of “healing and reform” for troubled youngsters. He began cartooning at 14 to deal with “entering a real-world horror comic — depraved, criminal and corrupting to so many who attended it.”
Now, 5 many years later, Head’s critically acclaimed triumph-over-trauma story might assist convey a measure of justice to his fellow victims — at least those who managed to go on residing with their emotional scars.
“I always feel like, with an autobiography or memoir, you’re wasting your time if you’re not risking something. I sort of bet all my chips on it,” Head advised The Post of sharing his darkest secrets and techniques. Faded images from his “Chartwell Manor” period seize an unsmiling child in a sensible school uniform, with curly blonde hair tamed right into a side-part — and haunted blue eyes concealing revelations “it took a whole lifetime” to make.
Head’s “merciless self-examination” — as legendary cartoonist Robert “R.” Crumb declared in his “masterpiece!” assessment — nearly dares mainstream comedian fandom to disapprove. He doesn’t ask readers to like him as he struggles to stay a pitchfork in the grownup demons born of his warped school days — he gambles on the reality as an alternative.
“My bottom-line approach: You gotta know what I know,” mentioned Head, now a youthful 63 with a mop of unruly silver curls, at his residence in Brooklyn. “You gotta know what I feel like. What’s it like to experience sex abuse and what sexual behavior that may have grown out of that feels like. That’s the deal that’s made when someone picks up the book.”
IT WAS GOTHIC — BUT IT WASN’T MAGICAL
Some readers is likely to be momentarily disturbed by the duvet artwork: It sparks a bizarro world sense reminiscence of one other legendary prep school: Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry.
“I was aware of the books — but I didn’t so much get into the Harry Potter thing,” Head mentioned. Obviously, no magic occurred at Chartwell — but it surely did share a sure “gothic” Hogwarts’ vibe — chandeliers, excessive ceilings, otherworldly structure befitting an idyllic mansion and property named after Winston Churchill’s nation residence — that he needed to recapture.
“Really, the only way I can put it is: I grew up in Madison … public schools were institutional settings and all the same no matter where you went,” Head recalled to The Post. On the opposite finish of the spectrum was “an ominous castle in the woods, this boarding school was gothic, haunting, atmospheric, to my 13-year-old eyes. Chartwell Manor, I always felt, was begging for the comic book treatment,” he mentioned in a press release to the Hollywood Reporter.
Meanwhile, each nice comedian wants its evil villain. Head’s got here in the type of sick “Sir” Lynch, a UK-born perv who was ultimately charged in a 103-count sexual abuse indictment for robbing his younger Chartwell costs of their innocence.
Little is thought about his life earlier than Chartwell, however “‘Sir’ was a larger than life figure: clownish, exuberant, florid in his speech patterns, grandiose — almost a parody of a boarding school headmaster,” Head mentioned. “He was also a pathological liar and a serial abuser of children. Too criminal for words, he needed to be drawn!”
A DOCUMENTED TRAIL OF PERVERSION
Because of a vow of silence amongst college students, many dad and mom didn’t be taught of Lynch’s sadistic abuse till after the disgraced school was shut down in 1984. Accusers testified about groped genitals underneath the guise of medical exams, creation and distribution of kid pornography and “cuddling” after naked-buttock beatings, the latter an try and “comfort” his humiliated victims in a perverse ritual of emotional management, in line with one pupil.
Lynch ultimately pleaded guilty in 1989, and served seven years of a 14-year sentence for molesting at least a dozen boys at Chartwell Manor. After his launch, he bought again to work. Lynch was sentenced in 2007 to at least one yr in jail for assaulting three men between 2004 and 2005 at a drug and alcohol rehab in Morristown, the place he posed as a volunteer physician doing hernia checks, genital exams and spankings. Those grownup victims obtained a $780,000 settlement — Chartwell college students have but to obtain civil compensation.
In 2011, the registered sex offender was charged with failing to notify police of a change of address. Lynch is believed to have died at 77 the same year in Parsippany.
Decades after Sir’s reign of terror and Head’s subsequent spiral into addictions depicted in his memoir, the artist-author is now married and a parent himself, to a 20-year-old daughter who hasn’t read the book — “but she knows she’s in it,” he told The Post. “She is sort of a very important figure in terms of my life taking a turn for the better.”
CIVIL JUSTICE POSSIBLE AS DEADLINE LOOMS
Self-destruction is in his past now but Head admitted there are emotional scars he’s still processing today. He knows he’s among the lucky ones.
“I’ve been in touch with some alumni — and a lot of people I knew who were kids then committed suicide or are dead from drug overdoses. Others [got into] prison issues. Quite a lot of that grew proper out of that school. An incredible many college students went by what I went by. Alcohol, medicine and sexual habits adopted that went half and parcel with this. I’m very fortunate to have been clear and sober for a while.”
Yes, Head has overcome quite a bit — however to disclose far more about how he bought right here would spoil what his friends and critics have hailed as an necessary e book.
Meanwhile, the timing of the discharge of “Chartwell Manor” might shine a light-weight on an ongoing push to convey compensation to survivors who have been too traumatized to testify in the previous.
In May 2019, NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed the Victims’ Rights Bill into legislation, extending the statute of limitations window for baby sexual abuse survivors to convey civil fits in opposition to those that harm them.
However, time is operating out for Chartwell Manor victims to affix those that’ve already filed claims in opposition to surviving Chartwell directors accused of letting Lynch — and different accused school — domesticate a tradition of abuse.
“New Jersey law gives you an opportunity to seek justice and compensation, and more importantly, hold the abusers accountable and get your voice back,” mentioned legal professional Greg Gianfocaro, a state baby sufferer advocate of three many years. “Claims must be filed by November 30. Hundreds of survivors have already come forward to make their voices heard. You are not alone.”
Survivors can confidentially seek the advice of with legal professionals online or by calling 1-888-920-9849. (Note: Head advised The Post it’s “amazing” that survivors are nonetheless in search of justice however he’s not affiliated with organized authorized efforts.)
GLENN DOESN’T HAVE THE LIGHT STUFF
After diving so deep into darkness, one would possibly suppose Head was craving some levity in his work. No approach.
“I’m not sure I’m really capable of lighter material. It sounds funny, but it’s just not really my thing,” he mentioned with a chuckle. In addition to his award-winning contributions to various comedian books and “comix” anthologies, Head’s artwork has appeared all over the place from the New York Times, Playboy and Sports Illustrated to the Wall Street Journal and the long-lasting underground paper Screw. However, the graphic novel format allows him to strive for one thing deeper inside his panels.
“Not to make light of other material, but what I’m really fascinated by is human behavior and how it affects us, how it follows us,” he mentioned. “I tried to give as much as I could in terms of honest characterization to both parents, Lynch, a pedophile; and the other kids I knew. I really wanted to flesh those things out with as much humanity as possible. Those are the things I strive for.”
As he just lately told “The Virtual Memories Show” podcast: “My whole interest in comics and autobiography is to show the dirt that’s under everyone’s fingernails, to capture that and not look away from it.”
Despite this professed lack of sentimentality, Head does cop to at least one feel-good cliche: Art saved him.
“I’m actually satisfied it did, really. For three years [in the ‘80s] at the School of Visual Arts, studying under Art Speigelman, I was a profoundly heavy drinker. But I learned a lot from him and it was really helpful to me,” the husband and dad told The Post. “One gets up to a lot of stuff in the 20 to 30 years — but studying comics held me in good stead. It’s one thing extra than simply an escape — it could actually prevent. I believe it actually did.”