Critical Care Comics: ‘Comics save lives’
Jason Golden’s life was saved by comics, and he wants to give othes the chance to have that same experience. A little while ago, hesent the following letter to some comics publishers, and it found its way to my inbox.
Near the end of my sophomore year in high school, I was diagnosed with Acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. It was a rather hard time for me. I was in and out of the hospital for over a year. Completely missed my junior year in high school. With the support of my friends and family, and the excellent care I received, I pulled through and live a normal happy life.
There were times though, in the hospital, when I was alone, depressed, and just downright feeling crappy. Two things helped me during those times: video games and comic books. Every Wednesday my parents would swing by my comic book shop and pick up my latest books.
Looking back now, those Wednesdays were the best days. I can remember the comic I was reading the day I was diagnosed: X-Men #7. The comic I brought with me the first day in the hospital: Spawn #1. As Spider-Man fought off the Sinister Six, I was fighting off nausea from chemo. I even read the Death of Superman from the hospital bed.
Those moments for me were an escape; if only for ten-fifteen minutes. The beeping from the IV machines would fade out, the pain from the chemo would subside, and for just a moment I would stand side by side with Spider-Man, Captain America, The Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Batman, or whatever other title I was reading. We would kick ass together.
Now at the age of 36, I want to give back. No, I need to give back. What I would like is to spread joy, and maybe crack a smile on the faces of the kids that are going through so much, trying to overcome uncertainty, and maybe give them a bit of hope. I’m starting Critical Care Comics, a non-profit charity that will collect donations of back issues for distribution to children’s hospitals.
We were founded May 17th, 2012, and had our first donation drive at the Phoenix ComiCon. We brought in over 3000 comics!!! This has become bigger than I could have possibly imagined. We are in the process of acquiring our 501(c)3 license and working with the hospitals to start the drops to the kids. Any and all support will be appreciated. I just feel in a lot of ways comics helped save my life, and I want to give back.
Our website is still under construction, but our Facebook page is updated regularly. Feel free to contact, share, like, and copy the flyer to help get the word out. Thanks for your time, I just wanted to let you guys know: what you’re doing isn’t just publishing books. You are helping ease pain and save lives. You guys are the Heroes!
I appreciate you for it.
The image of Jason kicking cancer’s ass while Spider-Man kicked Doc Ock’s is amazing and touching. I emailed him to talk to him a little more about Critical Care Comics and the progress he’s made so far.
Michael May: What’s been going on with Critical Care since that first donation drive at Phoenix ComiCon?
Jason Golden: We have a donation drive and fundraiser planned for June 30. We still need to raise the funds to acquire our 501(c)3 license. Still trying to get in the door at hospitals. Made some contacts that are putting us in contact with the people we need to talk to.
We really don’t want to put the cart in front of the horse with this. Once we’re in the doors and actually distributing the books, I think I’ll feel more comfortable. We’ve made a lot of progress between May 17 and now, and I’m quite happy with it.
The second donation drive is at HellPop! Comics in Las Vegas. Hopefully after this we’ll have enough for our license. Along with the donation drive for comics we have some items up for raffle prizes. I included photos [see below]. One is of some signed books from my personal collection and the other is a huge Sentinel sculpture donated from a local artist. I’m very excited. We are making progress on all fronts.
How much does a 501(c)3 license cost?
Well, we want to do this right. I can go through LegalZoom and it’s only about $175. And that’s scares me, because most times you get what you pay for. I don’t want problems down the road, and as big as we’re growing I want plans for growth already built in and that requires a lawyer. Total paperwork is around $450 for lawyer fees, so we’re looking at close to another $450.
In addition to the donation drive in Las Vegas, what else can comics fans do to help? Do you take PayPal? Have you considered a Kickstarter campaign?
We have, but I feel a strong grassroots campaign will prove successful and more rock solid. Getting to know people from the community and actually being able to talk with them works better for me. I want those that support us to feel like they have a part in this too.
How can people donate their comics to Critical Care?
As of now, we have drop off locations in Las Vegas and local pick-ups for Las Vegas and Arizona. Or if you wish to ship your comics just shoot us an email at email@example.com or contact us at the website and we will be in contact with the easiest way to do so.
How do you plan to get the books to patients? Would you be donating them to the hospitals and let them do the distributing? Or do you hope to deliver comics directly to patients?
We’re planning on meeting with local hospitals in both Las Vegas and Phoenix in the coming months. They’ll be the deciding factor on how the books will be distributed. In a perfect world I would love to hand the books personally to patients, and we have had many cosplayers volunteer to distribute as well. We’ll see what the hospitals will allow.
If you do get to distribute the books personally, how will you determine which patients get which books?
At first we’ll have random comics bundled together. If the patient is long-term, they’ll be asked to fill out a “pull list” for the next visit. I can’t guarantee an exact issue, but I can at least get them the title they want.
What’s the age range of the patients you’re looking to support?
Reading age and up. We’re looking into VA hospitals as well, so we’ve also started accepting mature titles.
Are there limits on what kinds of comics you’ll accept? Are some comics too “adult” for Critical Care and – if so – how will you make the distinction?
The safest way about that is to just go by the age-approved rating on the book.
If you do receive comics that aren’t appropriate for your clients, what do you plan to do with them?
Mature titles will be given to the VA hospitals. If we get some “questionable” books, we’ll address that when the time comes. If it has value, it may be traded to a local shop for more “appropriate” books.
A large part of the “comics experience” for a lot of superhero fans is following the monthly adventures of their favorite characters. You’ve already touched on pull lists for long-term patients, so to follow up on that: how important is that to the experience of kids in the hospital? From your own experience, is it just cool to have a comic to read or is it more desirable to follow a series?
Somewhat, I’d say. If i can bundle three or four books from the same run or a complete run together I will, and that’s how they’ll go out. Trades are awesome for getting a huge chunk of story at once. I think its important to follow a series you love. I’ll try to accommodate those fans with the books they love.
Thanks so much for talking with me! What are your biggest dreams for Critical Care?
For Critical Care Comics to have a charter in every state, with comics in every hospital. And maybe crack a few smiles on the faces of kids that need it most. For just founding the organization a little over a month ago, this has become bigger than myself. Thanks for your support.