Ages 9+ | Bully Wars

Bully Wars
Published by: Image Comics
Written by: Skottie Young
Illustrated by: Aaron Conley
ISBN: 9781534310445
Ages: 9+


As Spencer, Edith, and Ernie prepare to enter high school in Rottenville they are well aware of all the bullying that will take place. Prepared and ready, Spencer has even brought some anti-bullying supplies. But just as they are planning their strategy for addressing bullies in high school their biggest bully since Kindergarten interrupts their plans and reminds them that in high school he will continue to be there #1 bully. More than that, Rufus promises to make his claim to bullying rights even more clear once they get to high school that first day: “The first day is the most important because it lets them all know that I’m the one that does the ruling.”  

But things don’t quite work out for Rufus to become the biggest bully at Rottenville High. Instead, Rufus becomes the most bullied student on his first day of high school. High school bully “Hock” and his team of bullying misfits let Rufus know immediately that he will be bullied and not the bully. Hock’s buddy Troy even brags that Hock is indeed the winner of the last 3 years of the “Bully Wars” at Rottenville High so Rufus has no chance.

What are the Bully Wars?  Before Rufus can find out, his former bullied victims since Kindergarten step up to help him win the Bully Wars at Rottenville High.  But why?  Once you’ve been bullied for years you tend to think about the future opportunities for the bullying to stop, and Spencer believes that this new year in high school is the right time to team up with Rufus and help him defeat the new high school bullies, thus making an alliance with him to protect himself along with Edith and Ernie. Spencer has thought it all through, the perfect plan for Rufus to win the Bully Wars.

But when the grizzled and bully-crazed Coach, who organizes the Bully Wars at Rottenville High each year, learns of Spencer’s plan, he ups the stakes. He puts Spencer right in the middle of the Bully Wars and calls on all bullies to bring Spencer out of the Coach’s Rottenville High School maze. Will Rufus turn on Spencer (and Edith and Ernie) and chase the now main game winning prize of Spencer himself through the school or will he come to realize something else?  And what could that be from a lifelong bully? 

Elements of Story

Plot: Rufus has been the ruling Bully over Spencer, Edith, and Ernie since Kindergarten.  Now that they are entering Rottenville High, however, his dominance may come into question thanks to a clever scheme setup by Spencer.

Major Characters: Spencer, Edith, Ernie, Rufus, Hock, Troy, Pug, Coach Hurt, Katie Krush, Nicky Nemanmeyer, Karl ‘Cornbread’ Kilgis, Gil Gorey, Ronnie ‘Ripper’ Ripplestone, Rottenville rat mascot

Major Settings: Spencer’s home and bedroom, the bus stop and bus, Rottenville High, Coach Hurt’s office, Rottenville bathrooms, Rufus’ home and bedroom,

Themes: Bullying, Friendship, Teamwork, Coming of Age, High School

Lesson Plan Recommendation Using the

Common Core Standards (CCS) for Young Adults

Craft and Structure: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

Lesson Plan Directions:
The definition and the meaning of the word “bully” evolves throughout Bully Wars.  To help students understand the evolving meaning of the word “bully” in Bully Wars, ask them to think about the various ways in which the word “bully” is defined and used in the beginning of the story, the middle of the story, and the end of the story.

Meaning of the Word “Bully” @ the Beginning of Bully Wars (Chapter 1)

Meaning of the Word “Bully” in the Middle of Bully Wars (Chapters 2 – 3)

Meaning of the Word “Bully at the End of Bully Wars (Chapters 4 – 5)










Dr. Katie Monnin is the Director of Education at Pop Culture Classroom in Denver, Colorado.  She has written dozens of articles, curricula, reviews, lesson plans, and 8 books about teaching graphic novels, animation, video games, social media and other pop culture topics in the classroom.