In Review: Bell Time by David Robertson

Bell Time is the latest project from talented comic creator David Robertson, released last month and available now from Fred Egg Comics.

An 80-page colour comic, this project leads with a kind of body swap / time travel tale written and drawn by David, plus a number of one page school tales from his family.

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Inspired by David’s tenure working at a high school library, the story opens with bullied school pupil Lenny McNeil watching the film Peggy Sue Got Married, which is based around the idea of an adult going back into their teenage body and spending time at school. David tells his story with Lenny dealing with the reverse – zooming forward into his adult body after hearing a mysterious bell no-one else can, and facing school life in that situation.

“I realised that is essentially what had happened to me in reality,” notes David in his afterword, which also includes background notes on the creation of the story, “just without the unaccounted for decades inbetween).

David freely admits Bell Time was written based on his notion of what the film was, as he’d never actually seen it. He watched it later, in order to get dialogue, and found it didn’t really match up with his character’s description of the plot – but the premise is sound, approached in David’s usual eclectic style.

Throughout the story, you get the sense that Lenny is completely bemused, and, by the end, totally frustrated by his situation. After all, it’s not every day that you find yourself transposed into a different body, in a world where there are flying cars, but as an adult you’re facing the exactly the same problems that you did as a kid – bullying, bad behaviour, school ground fights, to name but a few. But now, Lenny has to deal with them as an adult – and just like all of the other adult teachers in the story, flight seems often a better strategy, rather than trying to confront some of the mean-spirited kids he encounters.

Gently told, but with plenty of barbs along the way, Bell Time offers a school set story that offers a thought-provoking premise in a slow-burn but not displeasing setting. Those of you who grew up watching Grange Hill, or read school-based comic stories – and I include the Beano’s “The Bash Street Kids” in that – should enjoy it.

I’m sure there is at least one character in David story with which you will identify, perhaps not for the best! (Although, not, as far as I’m aware, the character who can body swap…)

We’re left wondering if the teacher that Lenny encounters during his story is something more than just a teacher… And as school kids, didn’t didn’t some of us at least occasionally wonder the same?

All in all, Bell Time is an intriguing tale, offering Dave’s as usual challenging and enjoyable take on a film trope in need of a kick up the rear. Worth taking a look.

Bell Time is available now at the Fred Egg Comics shop here | Follow David Robertson on Twitter @FredEggComics

What Others Say…

“Overall this is another really solid comic from David, with funny bits and insightful bits mixed together. Unless you have a phobia about being trapped in a high school library, give this one a look.”

Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth

“This book is absolutely as fun as it sounds and manages to cross all those great school comics and tv series we remember with the world of time travel. David has a simple and iconically British style and he understands how a comic should flow.

Highly recommended.”

Tony Esmond, Never Iron Anything

“The art style of Bell Time 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.”

Alister Black, Daredevils & Warriors

“This comic is a very unique comic! It’s also a very psychological comic. The concept is very smart. The characters overall are very well developed. The story has good pacing, and the storytelling was also good.”

Alkyone, Exploring Comics

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