Ben

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This article is about the character from the graphic novel Ben X, based on the novel Nothing was all he said. For other versions of this character, see Ben Vertriest (disambiguation) ⚠️Content note⚠️ This page contains mentions of abuse and suicide.


Ben
Ben x IRL.png

Ben X fantasy.jpg

Appears inBen X

Ben is the main character in the Dutch-language graphic novel Ben X.

Character creation[edit]

The graphic novel is an adaption of the original novel Nothing was all he said (Dutch: Niets is alles wat hij zei).

Biography[edit]

The story is told with a mixed perspective: the real world, and Ben's fantasy world.

Ben is secondary school student who lives with his parents and spends most of his time playing the MMORPG Avenged Kingdom. He often plays together with another player with the screen name Scarlite, who is his healer. He is severely bullied at school and has no friends. Though his parents try to talk to the school principal about this, he remains mostly indifferent (stating that Ben is old enough to stick up for himself and that they're not a special education school). The teachers either give the bullies a mild reprimand or try to make it a teaching moment, which only results in more bullying directed at Ben. Other students ignore the whole situation or join the bullies. Only one student, Emma, attempts to connect with Ben and films the event during which Ben's pants are pulled down in front of everyone. She gives this footage to Ben, hoping he can use it.

At the same time, Ben is going to meet up with Scarlite. They're going to meet at the station, but he is late for their meet-up and sees Scarlite leave the station. He decides to commit suicide by jumping in front of a train, but is saved at the last moment by Scarlite. She states that suicide is a cowardly way out, and they come up with a plan to get revenge. Scarlite says that this "quest" is too heavy for just two people, and they need a "guild" to execute the plan. With the help of his parents, he fakes his suicide. During the fake-burial, the clip Emma sent him is played in front of everyone, exposing his bullies.

During the epilogue, Ben is doing horse therapy and a fantasy sequence shows him with Scarlite, whereas the real world perspective shows him to be alone, implying that Scarlite is a figment of his imagination. Presumably, he truly was going to meet up with her and saw the actual Scarlite leave the station, but every appearance of Scarlite after that is Ben's imagination.

Appearance[edit]

Ben has two main appearances: his real-world form, and his fantasy form.

In the real world, he is a tall and lean teenager. He has messy black hair and often wears simple clothes like a T-shirt, plain pants, sneakers and a jacket. The art style is rather flat and uses muted colours with a blue-grey undertone.

His fantasy self is based on his avatar in the video game Avenged Kingdom: tall, muscular, and clad in armor. The art style is much more vibrant and less stylised, though still has a blue-grey undertone. In the epilogue though, the blue undertone is gone.

Autism[edit]

Ben greets classmates in the same way as the /greetings gesure in Avenged Kingdom

Ben is diagnosed as a young child. He was initially thought to be deaf, but ends up with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. Various doctor figures use language such as "hypersensitive character", "atypical pervasive developmental disorder" and "antisocial behavior". Ben thrives on routine and counting things. When his bullies force him onto another bus than the one he normally takes, he gets confused and melts down, and the police have to bring him home. He has trouble relating to other people's feelings.

Video games as a way to understand the world[edit]

A main point in the graphic novel is how Ben attempts to understand the world through the lens of his favourite game, Avenged Kingdom. The game is a safe space for him since he knows everything about it and everything is predictable. Various situations are shown in this framework: he sees his bullies as trolls, the bullying knocks down his health gauge, and faking his suicide is simply a respawn.

Other media[edit]

Ben X is an adaptation of the original novel Nothing was all he said (Dutch: Niets is alles wat hij zei). See here for a list of other adaptations.