Hero Comics 2012 (A Hero Initiative Benefit Book)
Artists and Writers: Kevin Eastman, Tom Ziuko, Gerry Acerno, Chris Ryall, Ashley Wood, Russ Heath, Darwyn Cooke, Christian Gossett, Brennan Wagner, Alan Kupperberg, Jack Morelli, Dave Sim, Richard Starkings, Chris Ivy and the late Robert Washington
Published by IDW Publishing
I can honestly say that this is the kind of comic that you should buy no matter what you think of its quality. Its called “Hero Comics 2012″ and its a very nice tribute to comic book artists who have fallen on hard times produced by something called The Hero Initiative dotorg. So I figure if spending $3.99 will help some of the artists and writers (Especially writers) who have fallen on hard times then this is a comic well worth buying.
However, the most prominent thing about this comic is about the guy they couldn’t save and namely that of Robert Washington. I had just seen this comic at my local comics shop of choice just recently even though I think its been on the stands for about a month. This must have been a reorder of some kind. But to get back on point: Robert Washington, who had helped start the black only imprint called “Milestone Comics” passed away from what the obits say were “multiple heart attacks”. I guess I’m trying to figure out how someone in his 40s could get such a thing. He was fighting off homelessness. Anyway, he wrote a page in the comic and here it is in full:
Its very sad. Its great that this initiative helped him even though its quite clear that it wasn’t enough help. Of course, how much could they have helped him? Turns out they helped him get a decent funeral, which was classy.
As for the comic itself it’s only so-so. Not as good as this anthology for example but I’m sure every artist there, unless they have Canadian health care, can appreciate the goals of this particular work. I guess the saddest and most effective pieces for me were the ones written and drawn by the artists as they detail their hard times. I had no idea that the legend Russ Heath was going through some bad times. I also had no idea that pop icon Roy Lichtenstein‘s work “Whaam” was based on a panel by Russ Heath and that he didn’t get a cent for it. It was well written and well drawn. I guess age has taken some toll on his gifts but he’s still 90 percent there. Age, for a comics artist, means that your line becomes less firm. Or what I call the “Squiggly Snoopy” that we saw in the last Peanuts strips but Russ can still produce work. I hope he gets more cover work.
There are other stories like that where Tom Ziuko and Alan Kupperberg share with you the terrible things that happened to them. There’s also a lot of nice tribute art, pinups and short pieces from concerned artists. The book even lists the artists and writers they’re trying to help at the very end of the comic. This list includes Russ Heath, Chris Ivy, Alan Kupperberg, Tom Ziuko and the late Robert Washington, although this was clearly published before he died. There’s contact info for all of these still very talented artists and writers if you wish to hire them.
Definitely a must buy if you care about the lives of the people who give us these wonderful words and pictures. So give it a three out of five for execution and 5.5 out of 5 for spirit and decency.
Related: You can visit the website here.
It looks like they’re attempting to help writer Roger Slifer right now who was involved in a car accident. This is an organization that also helped greats like Gene Colan and Steve Gerber during their final days. It looks like they’re not taking any more memberships for this year but this is clearly a fantastic organization. One of the things that I took away from this is just how bad the American health care system is. This would seem to be the key factor in the downturns of just about every artist and writer involved here (The exception being that young artist hit by fire…). They either had no insurance or not enough thereby putting them in pretty desperate straits. I’m sure there are national comics treasures in France and Britain but I can’t imagine them having the same problems late in life simply because their national health care systems are so much better. Perhaps that’s why Robert Crumb moved to France…I guess I’m hoping that Obamacare will make things better but there’s partisan opposition to making it work.