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Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who, with Joe Simon, created the genre of romance comics before going on to co-found the Marvel Universe with the likes of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Don Heck, would have turned 96 today.
If you’ve enjoyed stories about Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Challengers of the Unknown, Thor, Etrigan the Demon, Nick Fury, the X-Men, Klarion the Witch Boy, Black Panther, Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Incredible Hulk, Darkseid, the Red Skull, Kamandi or Mister Miracle — in comics, in film or on television — you should thank Kirby, who created all of those characters (and many, many others) either in collaboration with Simon or Lee, or on his own.
But most people reading this blog already know that. What you may not know is what’s being done today to celebrate Kirby’s birthday — and how you can help.
Following last week’s launch of the second annual Kirby4Heroes campaign, The Hero Initiative has announced details of “Wake Up and Draw” and in-store events on Aug. 28 to celebrate the 96th birthday of Jack Kirby.
The organization, which provides financial support to creators in need, has recruited more than 40 artists to celebrate the day by drawing “birthday cards” to Kirby. Their illustrations will be showcased at ComicArtFans.com and auctioned at a later date, with the proceeds going to The Hero Initiative.
On that same day, retailers across North America will hold special events to mark Kirby’s birthday, with some pledging to donate a percentage of profits to the organization. Here’s a partial list of participating stores: Jesse James Comics, Glendale, AZ; Flying Colors Comics, Concord, CA; Lee’s Comics, Mountain View, CA; Alakazam Comics, Irvine, CA; Mission: Comics and Art, San Francisco, CA; Golden Apple Comics, Los Angeles, CA; The Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles, CA; A&M Comics, Miami, FL; Chimera’s Comics, Lagrange, IL; Aw Yeah Comics, Skokie, IL; Graham Crackers Comics, Plainfield, IL; Alternate Reality Comics, Las Vegas, NV; Paradise Comics, Toronto, Ontario; Floating World Comics, Portland, OR; and Austin Books & Comics, Austin, TX.
Kirby4Heroes was established last year by Kirby’s granddaughter Jillian Kirby, who’s been sharing vintage photos and her grandfather’s art on the campaign’s Facebook page.
For the second year in a row, Jack Kirby’s youngest granddaughter Jillian is commemorating the legendary artist’s birthday by spearheading the Kirby4Heroes campaign to help creators in need.
On Aug. 28, what would have been Kirby’s 96th birthday, fans are asked to donate to The Hero Initiative, the only industry organization that provides financial assistance to creators who have fallen on hard times.
Some retailers have also pledged to donate a percentage of their profits on that day. Writing on Hero Complex, 17-year-old Jillian Kirby says some stores will host “birthday parties” for her grandfather and auction off original art to benefit The Hero Initiative. This year’s goal is $10,000, nearly double what was raised in 2012.
“I started the Kirby4Heroes campaign as a way to connect with my grandfather, who died the year before I was born,” Jillian writes. “I’ve grown so much closer to him through my endeavors in this area. I have to admit I’m astounded by him as an artist, family member and just a kind human being. Raising funds for those in the comic book industry in need of financial and medical assistance is a cause my grandfather Jack would have championed. He never turned his back on a person in need.”
Image Comics printed blank covers for The Walking Dead #100, and The Hero Initiative commissioned 100 artists to create original drawings on them. The pieces have been auctioned online since June 4 at a rate of 10 covers a week, with the proceeds going to the industry charity, which provides a financial safety net for comics creators.
Adlard, who has drawn The Walking Dead since Issue 7 in 2004, is joined on the project by such artists as Kevin Eastman, Dale Keown, Peter Krause, Jeff Lemire, Ted McKeever, Mike Norton, Sean Phillips, Paolo Rivera, Fiona Staples and Ben Templesmith (you can see the full list of artists, and their entries, on the Hero Initiative website).
Paolo Rivera has debuted his stunning contribution The Hero Initiative’s latest “100 Project,” in which 100 artists draw their own covers for the milestone 100th issue of The Walking Dead. The covers, by the likes of Charlie Adlard, Kevin Eastman, Dan Brereton, Mark dos Santos and, yes, Robert Kirkman, will be collected in a book (for sale sometime this year), with the originals auctioned off to benefit The Hero Initiative.
In his blog post, Rivera also reveals he’ll be doing his very first work for DC Comics: a variant cover for Action Comics #18.
Steve Niles points us to the website of Matt Houk and Nico Zepeda, who are selling Josh Medors Memorial T-shirts honoring the artist who passed away Nov. 28 after a long battle with spinal cancer.
“The only way we could think to honor him is to put out a memorial shirt with his art work,” Houk writes. “He gave this art to my old comic shop as a gift so not many people have seen it. It was a no-brainer that this art needed to get out.”
The shirts are available for preorder for $25 from the Fall of the Sparrow website. All profits will go to benefit Help for Heroes, the comics industry cancer organization founded by Medors in partnership with The Hero Initiative, and to help his family with any expenses they may have. The 36-year-old Medors is survived by his wife Charlotte and their son Garth.
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve been perusing of late. Our guest today is Tyler James (@tylerjamescomic), the publisher of ComixTribe, which is both an online resources for comic creators and a new creator-owned imprint. Tyler is also the writer of the superhero murder mystery The Red Ten, which goes on sale Dec. 19, and the organizer of the annual 30 Characters Challenge, in which writers and artists attempt to create 30 characters in just 30 days, one for every day in November (it’s under way now at 30characters.com).
Here’s what Tyler and the Robot 6 crew are reading this week:
Writer and publisher Chris Roberson, who’s emerged over the past six months as a vocal advocate for creators’ rights, announced this morning that his Monkeybrain Comics will donate all of its income from November to The Hero Initiative, the industry organization dedicated to helping creators in need.
While creators releasing comics through Monkeybrain’s recently launched digital-comics initiative will still receive their portion of profits, the publisher’s cut will go to the charity.
“There are far too many stories of well-respected, talented writers and artists who created successful and beloved comics in previous decades, and who now are living in reduced means — unable to afford health care, unable to find paying work, some even homeless,” Roberson, who co-founded Monkeybrain in 2001 with his wife Allison Baker, wrote in an open letter. “At the same time, characters created and co-created by many of these same creators have gone on to appear in major motion pictures, on television, and in toy aisles. The American comic book industry was built on selling morality tales to young readers, stories of men and women who fought for justice and stood up for what was right. And the writers, artists, and others who created those stories deserve better than they have received. Thankfully, they have the Hero Initiative in their corner.”
Monkeybrain’s digital lineup includes Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, Edison Rex by Roberson and Dennis Culver, Thoughts on a Winter Morning by Kurt Busiek and Steve Lieber, and Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer. The comics can be purchased on the publisher’s website, or on comiXology.
Read Roberson’s full letter below:
“As simple as it sounds, it’s the simple fact that we’re helping people and having immediate positive impact in their lives. I hear crying a lot. I really do. And I mean that in a good way. I think it’s just the breaking of a dam sometimes, and an emotional release. I can’t tell you how often I’ll be speaking to someone on the phone after the disbursement committee has decided what to do, and I’ll tell Artist X, ‘Yeah, no problem. Gimme the address and an account number, and we can pay off that hospital bill. Give me your landlord’s name and number, we’ll take care of the back rent, and get you paid off for next month as well. And we’re sending a check to you so you can get some groceries.’ People just break down and start crying. I think it’s the stress of all these things ending, the cracking of that ice … it’s an emotional moment. The mind, the body, something … it doesn’t know what to do. So it cries. It’s odd, but I’ve come to not look at a full-grown adult crying as anything bad. In fact, it’s good. For so many people, it’s the end of a long and painful road.”
– Jim McLauchlin, president and co-founder of The Hero Initiative, explaining why he loves his job.
Since its founding in 2000, the organization has given more than $500,000 to comics creators in need.
Daredevil, Kate Beaton, J.H. Williams III, Jim Henson’s Tale Of Sand and Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition took home multiple honors at the 2012 Harvey Awards, held tonight in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con. Named for the late Harvey Kurtzman, the awards are selected by comics professionals, who offer nominations and vote on the winners.
Also during the ceremony, Kevin Brogan presented the Hero Initiative‘s Dick Giordano Humanitarian of The Year Award to the late Joe Kubert, while Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. presented the Hero Initiative’s Lifetime Achievement Award to John Romita Jr.
You can find a list of all the nominees with the winners in bold below.
Chris Eliopoulos, Fear Itself, Marvel Comics
Laura Lee Gulledge, Page By Paige, Amulet Books
Todd Klein, S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects Of Forever, Marvel Comics
David Lanphear, Secret Avengers, Marvel Comics
Jason Shiga, Empire State: A Love Story (or Not), Abrams ComicArts
Jack Kirby would have been 95 today, and celebrations are breaking out all over the comics blogosphere. Here’s a quick guide; feel free to post more links in comments.
• Today’s a good day to buy yourself some comics: Kirby’s granddaughter Jillian Kirby has started the Kirby4Heroes campaign, in which comics stores donate a percentage of their sales from today to The Hero Initiative.
Organizations | Jillian Kirby, the 16-year-old granddaughter of Jack Kirby, makes a pitch for Kirby4Heroes, a campaign to encourage donations to The Hero Initiative on Aug. 28, which would have been the legendary creator’s 95th birthday. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Roger Rautio, who’s spearheading an effort to establish a physical Comic Book Hall of Fame, said he’s received responses from officials in four cities — Chicago, Cleveland, New York City and San Jose — and he may meet with a Chicago city council member as early as next month. [North Country Now]
Creators | Cartoonist Reinhard Kleist discusses his graphic novel The Boxer, the true story of Polish Jew Harry Haft, who had to fight other prisoners at Auschwitz for the entertainment of the Nazi soldiers. [Deutsche Welle]
Artist Mike Wieringo and Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald passed away more than a decade apart, but both of them died on Aug. 12–now known as “M Day.” To celebrate the lives of both men, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has set up a fundraiser on Razoo.com for the Hero Initiative.
“This year, we’d like the celebrate the spirit of generosity and camaraderie amongst the comic book community that both of these creators embodied by encouraging their friends and fans to make a donation to the Hero Initiative,” Brevoort wrote. “The Hero Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping out those members of the comic book creative community who have fallen on hard times financially. Assistance from the Hero Initiative has made a difference in the lives and situations of many great practitioners of our art. This is something that we believe both Mark and Mike would be behind.”
Head on over to Razoo.com to support the fundraiser.
More than a month after being struck by a car in a hit and run, Lobo co-creator Roger Slifer remains comatose and unable to breathe on his own. Police in Santa Monica, California, have not located a suspect.
The Hero Initiative reports Slifer was moved Friday from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to Barlow Respiratory Hospital, which specializes in respiratory problems. The hope is that he will be able to breathe on his own in three to six weeks, and be ready for rehabilitation in three to six months. According to his
cousin sister-in-law Emma Slifer, he couldn’t be transferred earlier to Barlow — it’s a long-term acute care hospital — because, “for the past couple weeks Roger’s brain was relentlessly plagued by seizures for which he required high doses of sedatives and anti-seizure meds.”
The 57-year-old Slifer was crossing the street in the early hours of June 23 when he was hit by an older white sedan, breaking his collar bone, shoulder and a number of ribs. He was placed in a medically induced coma, and a portion of his skull was removed to relieve pressure on his brain.
A member of the CPL Gang alongside such future creators as Roger Stern, Bob Layton, John Byrne, Tony Isabella and Steven Grant, Slifer began working for Marvel in the mid-1970s as a writer and assistant editor before moving to DC Comics in 1981 as its first sales manager for the direct market. He also wrote Omega Men, for which he created the alien mercenary Lobo with Keith Giffen. He later moved into animation, working for Sunbow Entertainment as a producer, story editor and writer on such series as Jem and the Holograms, Transformers and G.I. Joe Extreme. According to his friend Barry Dennis, Slifer was working on a new project before the hit and run.
The Hero Initiative is accepting donations for Lobo co-creator Roger Slifer, who remains in an induced coma after a hit-and-run incident last month.
The organization will be helping out with medical and financial assistance. You can donate money through PayPal to the Hero Initiative via the “Donate” button at the top of their site or through Network for Good. They’ll also be at booth #5003 at the San Diego Comic-Con next week.
The 57-year-old comics and animation writer was hit by a car as he crossed the street June 23 in Santa Monica, Calif. Editor Jim Salicrup continues to provide updates on his Facebook page, while a “hub” for information, S.L.I.F.E.R. Needs You, has been set up.