Sex abuse rituals at NJ boarding school exposed — in cartoons by survivor

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The New York Post:

Glenn Head didn’t wait 50 years just to pull punches. After all, he survived a child’s waking nightmare at the hands of a pervert – not to mention the self-destructive sex-and-substance abuse streak it spawned in his adulthood. He didn’t get out alive by throwing fights. 

The veteran cartoonist is telling his triumph-over-trauma tale for the first time in the new graphic memoir “Chartwell Manor.”

Don’t let that whimsical cover art throw you: Head’s unflinching book recounts his two years at the now-defunct Mendham, NJ boarding school run by headmaster “Sir” Terence Michael Lynch — a serial sexual abuser who manipulated young boys into “cuddling sessions” after fondling and beating their nude bodies. 

Head’s “bland, suburban” existence was shattered at 13 when he scored subpar marks in the 7th grade. On a rainy Sunday in fall 1971, his parents sent him packing to the fancy “British-style” prep school, Chartwell Manor, which was hyped as a haven of “healing and reform” for troubled kids. He started cartooning at 14 to cope with “entering a real-world horror comic — depraved, criminal and corrupting to so many who attended it.”

Now, five decades later, Head’s critically acclaimed memoir could help bring a measure of justice to his fellow victims — at least the ones who managed to go on living with their emotional scars.

“I always feel like, with an autobiography or memoir, you’re wasting your time if you’re not risking something. I sort of bet all my chips on it,” Head told The Post of sharing his darkest secrets. Faded photos from his “Chartwell Manor” era capture a serious kid in a smart school uniform, with curly blonde hair tamed into a side-part — and haunted blue eyes concealing revelations “it took a whole lifetime” to make.

Head’s “merciless self-examination” — as legendary cartoonist Robert “R.” Crumb declared in his “masterpiece!” review — almost dares mainstream comic fandom to disapprove. He doesn’t ask readers to like him as he struggles to stick a pitchfork in the adult demons born of his warped school days — he gambles on the truth instead.

“My bottom-line approach: You gotta know what I know,” said Head, now a youthful 63 with a mop of unruly silver curls, at his home in Brooklyn. “You gotta know what I feel like. What’s it like to experience sex abuse and what sexual behavior that may have grown out of that feels like. That’s the deal that’s made when someone picks up the book.”

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