Journey Into Comics: The Biggest Siegel House Booster
by Mike San Giacomo
Date: 12 October 2008 Time: 11:03 AM ET
Save the Jerry Siegel House
A lot of people pitched in to save the house where Jerry Siegel created Superman.Brad Meltzer said that the grand total from the auctions after eBay and other fees were removed from the $117,000 was $101,000. Not bad, twice the goal, and the Siegel and Shuster Society t-shirts are still on sale. I was already impressed with Robert Erwin for being the no-one-even-came-close biggest booster of the auction. He just about saved the house himself with almost $50,000 on the biggest items. So I contacted him to see what he was going to do with all the fantastic art and special items he won and was blown away. Why? He’s giving them to friends and his employees at Pi Studios in Houston, a computer game software development company. Now that’s the kind of place I want to work. Erwin is also amazingly modest, I had to track him down and pull the info out of him. But here’s the deal: The drawing by Jim Lee of some lucky person with Superman ($14,101) will go to a friend, who will get to pose for it. The walk-on role on Heroes ($14,100) will go to an employee of Pi. They will have a raffle of interested workers and the winner gets the gig. The Brian Bendis auction item, drawing someone on a cover of Powers, ($5,850) will go to Pi Creative Director John Faulkenbury, “a huge Bendis fan.” Likewise, some lucky Pi employee will get to name a character in Mark Millar’s War Heroes, thanks to a $5,600 bid by Erwin. The Mike Mignola drawing of Hellboy ($4,550) wearing a Superman t-shirt will go to someone. I woould bet it will go to Erwin’s son, a big Hellboy fan. The one piece Erwin is keeping for himself is the Supergirl drawing by Frank Cho ($7,500.) “I'm a big fan of Frank Cho,” he said. “I think Frank is one of the most talented artists in the industry. I love Liberty Meadows, and all Frank’s work. I have a Ms. Marvel piece he did that looks exactly like my ex-girlfriend.” Since Erwin started Pi in 2001 with video games like Call To Duty, United Offensive for Activision and Call To Duty 2 for the PC and Xbox 360 and the Game Cube, the company just keeps growing. They just finished Rock Band 2 for Wii and is just about ready to release a revived Wolfenstein. Okay, I admit I’m not a big games person, so readers feel free to chat about the games. He has bought some excellent original art including Boris Vallejo and a dozen Alex Ross originals. He hastened to add that he does not keep the expensive art in his home, so would-be burglars can forget about it. Besides, he has big, mean dogs. Maybe. You’ll never know, will you? He said his employees are like family and he treats them that way. “We all work very hard and word long hours,” he said. “We have 146 employees and they are great. That’s why I decided to reward them with the auction items. They deserve it.” Erwin said the decision to support the auction was an easy one. “It was for an amazing cause,” he said. “You don’t see enough people caring anymore. We don’t pay enough respect in our culture to the past or to what people did that goes us to this place. “We need to restore and respect places like the home of Jerry Siegel so that someday I can take my son there and say, ‘here’s where it all started,’ ” Erwin said. “These places need to be cherished and looked after. And if they need any more to save it, they know who to call.” Erwin said the gaming industry owes a debt to comics. “It’s where we came from, I felt it was our duty to give something back,” he said. Check Meltzer’s website www.ordinarypeoplechangetheworld.com for more details and to buy a Siegel and Shuster Society t-shirt.