The Four Letter Word
It’s only a measly four-letter word.
Hint: It begins with an “F.”
Hint: It’s an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide.
How bad could it really be?
This four-letter word controls our attitudes, actions, and words.
Fear guides us.
Fear controls us.
Fear is everywhere.
Fear is precisely what Paige Turner (ha-ha, yes her parents are writers) and Robert “Yummy” Sandifer had in common.
They were afraid for the same reasons, but the two reacted very differently.
Paige Turner, in the graphic novel Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge (you should check out her excellent blog), just moved to New York with her parents.
Life in a new city was frightening: new place, new school, but more importantly, new people.
Ultimately, Paige was afraid to step outside of her comfort zone and get rejected. Because of that fear, she pulled away from people and hid.
Also addressing the same topic is the fictional graphic novel, based on a true story, Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri and illustrated by Rady DuBurke.
Yummy committed 23 felonies and 5 misdemeanors…by the age of eleven.
Left without parents or a family, Yummy’s ultimate fear was to be alone. He went looking for a family and found the Southside Gang.
As the gang’s go-to man (boy), the eleven-year-old shot an innocent girl. Armed and dangerous, he became America’s Most Wanted.
In the end of the heartbreaking story, Yummy’s entire being beccame engulfed with fear: the fear of getting punished, the fear of never being accepted, and the fear of continuing to be alone.
His fear drove him to hide.
His fear drove him to die.
His life shocked America and he was even featured in a 1994 issue of TIME.
Paige and Yummy were both afraid of being alone. They, as all humans, wanted to be accepted by others.
Paige sought out three of her high school peers; Yummy sought out the welcoming arms of a dangerous gang.
Yes, circumstances for the two were drastically different (and yes, Paige is a fictional character). But Neri proposed an intriguing question, “I wondered if I grew up like [Yummy], would I have turned out the same?”
Although the two novels are very different, the two characters have very similar fears.
They share the same essential fear that you and I have.
Although I am still fairly new to the graphic novel genre, I recommend reading these two thought-provoking novels.
Yummy offers dark depictions in the graphics, whereas Page by Paige offers peculiar metaphors within the graphics.
There are also hundreds of top graphic novels listed on GoodReads.
Don’t fear the graphic novel – face the four-letter word and jump on in.