Dylan Campbell, who wrote and drew Scared By The Bell is a middle schooler’s dream. It also adds a nostalgic appeal for adults. Scared By The Bell’s review came smashing in with heavy boots and a Frankensteinian groan. The addition of a Spanish translation brings in a new audience who can read about zombies, vampires, and Peter, a human kid. I’ll give you three guesses to figure out who is the scariest of the bunch.
With such a fun addition, The Daily Fandom managed to sit down with Dylan. We spent a few minutes talking about his process and his thoughts on his webcomic. I’ve edited this interview for grammar and brevity.
Scared By the Bell & Influences
TDF: What initially brought you the idea for Scared By the Bell?
Dylan Campbell: It started as a different comic. It was about a new teacher at a school and she was a substitute teacher. It was kind of like School of Rock, except with monsters. She showed up to class and everyone was monsters, so the teacher was the fish out of water. But then, I drew like six pages. And I was like, if I want this to be a kid’s comic, I want the main character to be a kid. I asked myself who was the protagonist? Who were people following? So I scrapped it and redid it with Peter. So, I kinda started there. Yeah, I substitute taught and you get whacky classes.
TDF: So that was what influenced you? The whacky classes?
Dylan Campbell: Yeah, because I was like those monsters. And then I thought, everyone has been to middle school and everyone has been to high school, so it’s a great sandbox to play in — like Saved By the Bell. I also wanted to have cool stuff to draw in writing. So with like monsters, it’s kinda like Star Trek. You can explore diversity in like a sneaky way. And you can have a lot of fun with it. You can tackle a lot of issues that aren’t as explicit, but they’re in there, you know? Because it’s like monsters and robots and aliens and people. You can sneak in like different narratives and different things like that.
Why Does It Help To Have Understanding?
TDF: What narratives are you usually interested in? As like, a writer?
Dylan Campbell: I seem to gravitate towards stories that have to do with identity. And having to create your own identity. I feel like with Scared By the Bell I’m trying to tell a story that equips kids to handle different things.
Like I remember Ducktale cartoons. I used to think about them all the time in different social situations. I wanted to be able to do that. When a kid encounters a different situation like Mary with the sign language or they’re Muslim or they look different, they’ll know what to do. Maybe it’s not in the story directly, we’ll see Goldilocks, for example, with the mummy, being like they’re all ragheads out to kill us. I’m a big believer in that it’s hard to be prejudiced to someone if you have a relationship with them. Like if they’re a person. So I feel like a lot of people who have certain opinions about POC or gay people or faiths, they didn’t really know anybody.
They didn’t know anybody who happened to be like that. So I’m interested in those kinds of stories. I’m also in adventures, magic, and excitement. So hopefully, every issue will have heavier thematic stuff, but also enveloped in a box of fun adventures. If you catch the heavier cool, but if not, it’s a fun romp.
Traditional Art Is Traditional In Scared By the Bell
TDF: One of my friends wanted to ask if you got carpal tunnel?
Dylan Campbell: No. Not yet. I haven’t been doing it long enough, but I do a lot of stretches, Youtube yoga, and swim. I do have to stretch a lot, though. Because I’m hunched over because I draw Scared By the Bell traditionally.
TDF: What tools do you use?
Dylan Campbell: The drawing is all traditional so I use a non-photo blue pen, then I do tight pencils, then I lightbox the inks, then I scan the inks, then I color digitally in Photoshop, then I letter in Illustrator.
TDF: So it’s a one man operation?
Dylan Campbell: It is… that’s why it takes so long. I really like doing everything, though. I really like every aspect of the job.
TDF: What would you say to an aspiring artist or writer in Scared By the Bell‘s demographic?
Dylan Campbell: Just make ’em. I used to draw comics in junior high, elementary school, and high school, but then you look at other people like when I was young it was Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane. You think you’ll never be that good. So, I didn’t. I took a class and she showed me all these indie books that made me think, ‘Wait! I can draw like that!’
For me, she opened up the definition of what comics can be. They don’t all have to be super-realistic. So, I did a little mini comic and a couple of one-page comics. My advice would be don’t think you’re not that good. Don’t look at the big boys. Just do it. Just keep doing it. You’ll have so much fun.