I want you to know that I did not publish this comic strip lightly. I’m actually a nervous wreck putting it out there. I know it’s disturbing, violent, and maybe even shocking. It’s meant to be.
Mr. F first came into my conscious about seventeen years ago — soon after I started teaching. Even though I only started (semi) regularly publishing him within the last few years, his supporting cast, his antics, and his future were always in my mind.
He had quite a bright future, too. I planned to eventually have him capture the heart of Miss Kris. After that, I would have them get married and start a family. Mr. F’s cast would grow to include their children. Mr. F would then be depicted not only as a teacher, but also as a boyfriend, a husband, and ultimately a father.
I’ve always intended the Mr. F comic to be fun-loving. I never wanted the strip to be too critical, too political, or too heavy. I wanted the jokes typically aimed at Mr. F himself, never too much at the students. I meant for the reader to read it, chuckle, and then move on.
I meant for this strip to last decades.
But I’m tired.
Not tired of the strip — I’m tired of our children being shot to death in schools. I’m tired of America throwing up its hands and saying, “Well, it is what it is.” I’m tired of thinking, “It could never happen at my school” — as though that’s some sort of justifiable rationalization.
I want all the murdered children to know I care. I want those children to know that my heart cries for them, that thinking about them keeps me up at night, and that I can’t any longer just hope their faces fade out of my memory.
My first step is to sacrifice something very important to me — Mr. F. He’s a poor substitute for an actual living child, obviously, but I want those who feel shocked by Mr. F’s senseless death to know that his demise is NOTHING compared to each and every one of the children we’ve allowed to be killed in what should be the safest spaces in our country. The future ripped away from him is fictional. The future those children will never get to experience is real. Too real.
Mr. F is clearly based on me. I’m a teacher. For many of you, when you look at him, you see me. When you look at the above picture, I want you to imagine that it is actually me. I want you to imagine that I’ve been killed by an assault weapon at my school. I want you to imagine your child, riddled with bullets, bleeding out on the floor, or your grandchild, or your nephew or niece. I want you to imagine that, and I want you to try to rationalize why you allowed it. It’s different when it’s other people’s kids … but it shouldn’t be.
To all the murdered children … I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. Starting with this strip, I won’t just offer my thoughts. It’s time to also offer action.