Glenn Head didn’t wait 50 years simply to drag punches. In any case, he survived a baby’s waking nightmare by the hands 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.
The veteran cartoonist is telling his triumph-over-trauma story for the primary time within the new graphic memoir “Chartwell Manor.”
Don’t let that whimsical cowl artwork throw you: Head’s unflinching guide recounts his two years on the now-defunct Mendham, NJ, boarding faculty run by headmaster “Sir” Terence Michael Lynch — a serial sexual abuser who manipulated younger boys into “cuddling classes” after fondling and beating their nude our bodies.
Head’s “bland, suburban” existence was shattered at 13 when he scored subpar marks within the seventh grade. On a wet Sunday in fall 1971, his mother and father despatched him packing to the flamboyant, “British-style” prep faculty, Chartwell Manor, which was hyped as a haven of “therapeutic and reform” for troubled youngsters. He began cartooning at 14 to deal with “coming into a real-world horror comedian — wicked, prison and corrupting to so many who attended it.”
Now, 5 many years later, Head’s critically acclaimed memoir might assist carry a measure of justice to his fellow victims — no less than those who managed to go on residing with their emotional scars.
“I at all times really feel like, with an autobiography or memoir, you’re losing your time in case you’re not risking one thing. I form of wager all my chips on it,” Head advised The Put up of sharing his darkest secrets and techniques. Light pictures from his “Chartwell Manor” period seize a critical child in a sensible faculty uniform, with curly blond hair tamed right into a facet half — and haunted blue eyes concealing revelations “it took an entire lifetime” to make.
Head’s “cruel 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 within the grownup demons born of his warped faculty days — he gambles on the reality as a substitute.
“My bottom-line strategy: You gotta know what I do know,” mentioned Head, now a youthful 63 with a mop of unruly silver curls, at his dwelling in Brooklyn. “You gotta know what I really feel like. What’s it prefer to expertise intercourse abuse and what sexual habits that will have grown out of that appears like. That’s the deal that’s made when somebody picks up the guide.”
IT WAS GOTHIC — BUT IT WASN’T MAGICAL
Some readers may be momentarily disturbed by the duvet artwork: It sparks a bizarro world sense reminiscence of one other legendary prep faculty: Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Faculty of Magic and Wizardry.
“I used to be conscious of the books — however I didn’t a lot get into the Harry Potter factor,” Head mentioned. Clearly, no magic occurred at Chartwell, nevertheless it did share a sure “gothic” Hogwarts vibe — chandeliers, excessive ceilings, otherworldly structure befitting an idyllic mansion and property named after Winston Churchill’s nation dwelling — that he needed to recapture.
“Actually, the one approach I can put it’s: I grew up in Madison … public faculties had been institutional settings and all the identical irrespective of the place you went,” Head recalled to The Put up. On the opposite finish of the spectrum was “an ominous fort within the woods, this boarding faculty was gothic, haunting, atmospheric, to my 13-year-old eyes. Chartwell Manor, I at all times felt, was begging for the comedian guide therapy,” he mentioned in a press release to the Hollywood Reporter.
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In the meantime, each nice comedian wants its evil villain. Head’s got here within the type of sick “Sir” Lynch, a UK-born perv who was ultimately charged in a 103-count sexual abuse indictment with robbing his younger Chartwell fees of their innocence.
Little is understood about his life earlier than Chartwell, however “’Sir’ was a bigger than life determine: clownish, exuberant, florid in his speech patterns, grandiose — nearly a parody of a boarding faculty headmaster,” Head mentioned. “He was additionally a pathological liar and a serial abuser of youngsters. Too prison for phrases, he wanted to be drawn!”
A DOCUMENTED TRAIL OF PERVERSION
Due to a vow of silence amongst college students, many mother and father didn’t be taught of Lynch’s sadistic abuse till after the disgraced faculty 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 to “consolation” his humiliated victims in a perverse ritual of emotional management, in accordance with one pupil.
Lynch ultimately pleaded responsible in 1989, and served seven years of a 14-year sentence for molesting no less than a dozen boys at Chartwell Manor. After his launch, he received again to work. Lynch was sentenced in 2007 to 1 12 months in jail for assaulting three males 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. These grownup victims acquired a $780,000 settlement — Chartwell college students have but to obtain civil compensation.
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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 college. A terrific many college students went by means of what I went by means of. Alcohol, medication and sexual habits adopted that went half and parcel with this. I’m very fortunate to have been clear and sober for a while.”
Sure, Head has overcome rather a lot — however to disclose rather more about how he received right here would spoil what his friends and critics have hailed as an vital guide.
In the meantime, the timing of the discharge of “Chartwell Manor” might shine a light-weight on an ongoing push to carry compensation to survivors who had been too traumatized to testify up to now.
In Could 2019, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Victims’ Rights Invoice into legislation, extending the statute-of-limitations window for baby sexual abuse survivors to carry civil fits towards those that harm them.
Nonetheless, time is operating out for Chartwell Manor victims to hitch those that’ve already filed claims towards surviving Chartwell directors accused of letting Lynch — and different accused school — domesticate a tradition of abuse.
“New Jersey legislation provides you a chance to hunt justice and compensation, and extra importantly, maintain the abusers accountable and get your voice again,” mentioned legal professional Greg Gianforcaro, a state baby sufferer advocate of three many years. “Claims have to be filed by November 30. Lots of of survivors have already come ahead to make their voices heard. You aren’t alone.”
Survivors can confidentially seek the advice of with legal professionals on-line or by calling 1-888-920-9849. (Observe: Head advised The Put up it’s “wonderful” 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 may assume Head was craving some levity in his work. No approach.
“I’m unsure I’m actually able to lighter materials. It sounds humorous, nevertheless it’s simply probably not my factor,” he mentioned with a chuckle. Along with his award-winning contributions to different comedian books and “comix” anthologies, Head’s artwork has appeared all over the place from the New York Instances, Playboy and Sports activities Illustrated to the Wall Avenue Journal and the enduring underground paper Screw. Nonetheless, the graphic novel format permits him to attempt for one thing deeper inside his panels.
“To not make mild of different materials, however what I’m actually fascinated by is human habits and the way it impacts us, the way it follows us,” he mentioned. “I attempted to present as a lot as I might by way of sincere characterization to each mother and father, Lynch, a pedophile, and the opposite youngsters I knew. I actually needed to flesh these issues out with as a lot humanity as attainable. These are the issues I attempt for.”
As he lately advised “The Digital Recollections Present” podcast: “My entire curiosity in comics and autobiography is to indicate the dust that’s underneath everybody’s fingernails, to seize that and never look away from it.”
Regardless of this professed lack of sentimentality, Head does cop to 1 feel-good cliche: Artwork saved him.
“I’m actually satisfied it did, truly. For 3 years [in the ‘80s] on the Faculty of Visible Arts, learning underneath Artwork Spiegelman, I used to be a profoundly heavy drinker. However I discovered rather a lot from him and it was actually useful to me,” the husband and pa advised The Put up. “One will get as much as numerous stuff in 20 to 30 years — however learning comics held me in good stead. It’s one thing extra than simply an escape — it might prevent. I believe it actually did.”