Every hero needs to experience their first team-up, and Anthony Smith, a.k.a. Blue Ear, got to do that this past week. It didn’t start with the typical fight that such meetings usually start with, but then again, this wasn’t a typical team-up.
Last year Anthony’s mom, Christina D’Allesandro, reached out to Marvel after her son Anthony Smith told he wasn’t going to use his hearing aid anymore because “superheroes don’t have blue ears.” Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann responded first with evidence of Hawkeye’s hearing loss in the 1980s and then with artwork by Nelson Ribeiro and Manny Mederos depicting Anthony Smith as the superhero Blue Ear.
The story caught the attention of media and families with hearing-impaired children. It also caught the eye of Phonak, the largest distributor of hearing aids in the world. They worked with Marvel Custom Solutions, which regularly works with companies and organizations to create custom comics, on a poster that’s being distributed to pediatric audiology clinics. Written by Christos Gage and drawn by Paco Medina, the poster features Iron Man and a hearing-impaired boy who just wants to be treated like any other kid.
And this past week, Blue Ear attended an event at the Center for Hearing and Communication to debut the poster — as well as to meet fellow superhero Iron Man.
“When Christina told us about Anthony, she taught us about some of the unique challenges that children who wear hearing aids face,” Rosemann told Marvel.com. “When our friends at Phonak heard about how the Marvel heroes helped him, they realized how together we could help spread the message even further.”
Check out the poster below, and head over to Marvel.com to see more pictures of Blue Ear and Iron Man’s first team-up.
Marvel sprang into action last year to help convince a 4-year-old boy that, yes, superheroes do wear hearing aids, and now the publisher is taking the inspirational message to hearing-impaired children across the country.
As you may recall, Christina D’Allesandro reached out to Marvel last spring after her son Anthony Smith told he wasn’t going to use his hearing aid anymore because “superheroes don’t have blue ears.” The company responded first with evidence of Hawkeye’s hearing loss in the 1980s and then with artwork by Nelson Ribeiro and Manny Mederos depicting Anthony Smith as the superhero Blue Ear, who even has his own Wikipedia entry. The story was picked up by international media, leading D’Allesandro to receive emails from from across the globe from the parents of hearing-impaired children.
Dec. 12, marks a new era and a new team dynamics for writer Jeff Parker‘s Dark Avengers as Issue 184 goes on sale. But before the new storyline begins, I convinced Parker to reflect on his Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers run, which started in November 2009 (Thunderbolts #138) as well as discussing what lies ahead with the series. It was interesting to learn his thought process when collaborating with past series artists like Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey, as well as what current artist Neil Edwards motivates Parker to tackle. This interview was a fun romp for me, full of surprises — none more than the first: that Parker nearly passed on writing the series.
Once you finish the interview, please chime in if you agree that Parker should get a chance to write a Man-Thing series for Marvel. And if you missed CBR’s Dave Richards’ interview with Parker regarding Red She-Hulk, be sure to read it to learn about more great Parker storytelling.
Tim O’Shea: You started writing Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers in November 2009. Could you have envisioned it would be a book you would still be writing a solid three years later?
Jeff Parker: No, I almost passed on it. When Bill Rosemann asked me if I’d be interested in coming on after Andy Diggle. I’d never read much of the title, and he described that they wanted to base it around The Raft superprison. And I was wary. “It’s all set in prison? They never go anywhere?” But Bill and Tom Brevoort assured me that they’d be able to go on missions, it just needed to have prison as a big backdrop; that’s what had been discussed at one of the Marvel summits. Bill had asked me because I’d just worked on The Hood sequel miniseries with him and Kyle Hotz and he thought I’d be good for continuing with a villain book.
When a 4-year-old from New Hampshire didn’t want to wear his hearing aid, Hawkeye came to the rescue — with a lot of help from the Marvel Bullpen.
As we reported yesterday, Christina D’Allesandro’s son Anthony Smith didn’t want to wear his “blue ear” hearing aid because he said superheroes didn’t wear them. So she sent a blind email to Marvel, hoping that maybe that wasn’t true and they could point to one who did.
“Christina sent her touching letter in to the email@example.com address, a general ‘fan mail’ account which is shared by a group of us in editorial,” Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann told Robot 6. “She didn’t know a specific person to write to here at Marvel, and even figured it might get caught in our spam filters, but she sent it in anyway, because that’s the kind of great parent Christina is. And it was her inspiring effort to help her son that touched so many of us here. As a fellow parent of a toddler, I can understand where she’s coming from, so I forwarded the email around the rest of Editorial, asking what we could do to help, and like when Cap yells, ‘Avengers Assemble,’ the gang leapt into action.”
Rosemann said the mail account gets a lot of traffic, the majority of which are messages from fans about specific issues or stories.
Comics | When 4-year-old Anthony Smith didn’t want to wear his hearing aid because superheroes don’t wear them, his mother emailed Marvel to ask if they had any pictures of superheroes wearing a hearing aid. Not only did Marvel editor Bill Rosemann respond with an image of the cover of 1984′s West Coast Avengers #1, which featured Hawkeye wearing a hearing aid, he also had artist Nelson Ribeiro transform Anthony into a superhero, Blue Ear. [Concord Monitor]
Publishing | Former Marvel editor Jody LeHeup, who was let go by the publisher in October during a round of layoffs, has joined Valiant Entertainment as associate editor. [press release]
Conventions | Rich Lopez has a gallery of photos from last weekend’s Dallas Comic Con. [The Dallas Voice]
Passings | The Comics Journal collects tributes to Maurice Sendak, the legendary children’s book author and illustrator who passed away Tuesday at age 83. Philip Nel, director of Kansas State University’s Program in Children’s Literature, also writes an obituary for the influential creator of Where the Wild Things Are. [TCJ.com]
Publishing | In an interview with the retail news and analysis site ICv2, IDW Publishing President and CEO Ted Adams says that while digital sales are at 10 percent of print sales, both are going up: “There’s just no question at this point that selling comics digitally is definitively not impacting [print] comic book sales. If anything you could make the argument that the success of digital is driving more print comic book sales. The correlation at this point is that increased digital has resulted in increased print. Whether or not that is a direct correlation, I don’t know how you would figure that out. I can say with no uncertainty that our increased digital revenue has come at a time when we’ve had increased comic book sales.” [ICv2]
Comics | John Jackson Miller slices and dices the October numbers for the direct market, noting that overall dollar orders for comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines topped $40 million for the first time since September 2009. Orders rose 6.9 percent over September, the first month of DC’s relaunch. “While that may sound counter-intuitive, it isn’t when you consider that all those first issues continued to have reorders selling through October,” Miller writes. “Retailers with an eye on the aftermarket may also have some sense that second issues are historically under-ordered — something which goes at least back to the experience of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 in the 1980s, which wound up being much more valuable than its first issue.” [The Comichron]
Passings | Tom Spurgeon reports that author Les Daniels has passed away. Daniels wrote horror fiction and nonfiction books on the comic industry, which include Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics and DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes. [The Comics Reporter]
Today marks the release of Black Panther: The Man Without Fear 514, the second issue of writer David Liss‘ run documenting Black Panther’s effort to defend Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil’s absence. In this email interview, Liss shares his appreciation of secret identities, as well as his interest in immigrant crime families and organizations, among other topics. As detailed by Marvel, this latest issue features: “Luke Cage guest stars as T’Challa’s new adventure in NYC continues! The former King of Wakanda has sworn to protect the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and while battling the mob is one thing, how does he stop a killer targeting innocent people? It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, as T’Challa hunts ruthless new crime lord Vlad the Impaler, while Vlad concocts a desperate and bloody scheme to entrap the mysterious new vigilante that’s ruining his plans.” My thanks to Marvel editor Bill Rosemann for the art he provided for us to share with Robot 6 readers.
Tim O’Shea: In taking an assignment placing the Black Panther in Hell’s Kitchen, what factors appealed to you most in taking the assignment?
David Liss: I loved the idea of taking a very powerful figure, stripping him of his abilities, and placing him in a new environment. Characters are most interesting when they face challenges and obstacles, and this seemed a great opportunity to take a headstrong, confident hero and put him in situations in which he would have to grow, adapt and be uncomfortable. Plus it’s Hell’s Kitchen, which means there will be lots of ass-kicking. I thought the concept rocked.
The writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have come back down to Earth and the streets of Marvel with the new Heroes for Hire (H4H) series, which premiered in December. After reading the first issue, which ended with a spectacular plot curve ball, I wanted to find out more about the series. This Wednesday, January 5, marks the release of issue 2–featuring Ghost Rider and Silver Sable. Despite his busy comics and prose writing schedule, Abnett was kind enough to do a brief email interview about the series–and offer readers a chance make hero hire suggestions for future issues.
Tim O’Shea: After working in space with myriad Marvel universe alien species, what’s the most enjoyable aspect to getting to also dabble in the “nitty, gritty, human vigilante street action of Heroes for Hire” as you recently described it.
Dan Abnett: The change of pace, really. Bill Rosemann, our editor, asked us if we’d like to do something that was a contrast to the cosmic stuff we’ve been doing, and the first thing Andy and I ever did for Marvel US was a year or so’s run on the Punisher in the early 1990s. So we decided to go ‘back on the streets’.