In these lean economic times, charitable contributions have plummeted faster than America’s real estate values after the housing bust. But for just a few bucks, you can simultaneously buy yourself some quality entertainment and give to a good cause by purchasing Hero Comics 2012.
Hero Comics 2012 ($3.99 from IDW Publishing) features 32 full-color pages and benefits the Hero Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to helping comic artists who have fallen on hard times. The annual, set to hit comic stores on May 23, includes original stories by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, a new Red Star story by creator Christian Gossett, and an original Zombie vs. Robots strip by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood. The comic also includes thought-provoking pieces from creators Tom Ziuko, Russ Heath, Alan Kupperberg and Robert Washington about how Hero Initiative has personally changed their lives.
Since its inception in early 2001, the Hero Initiative has provided over 50 comic book contributors with more than $500,000 in financial assistance. It is the first federally chartered non-profit corporation designed to help comic book creators in need, whether for emergency medical services or assistance getting back to work.
Zombies vs. Robots co-creator and IDW Publishing Editor-In-Chief Chris Ryall talked about the piece he and Ashley Wood created for Hero Comics 2012.“I’m a huge fan of Mad Magazine. The pieces we created for Hero Comics 2012 are based on Don Martin’s one-to-two-page strips. Martin did the funniest, most insane sound effects. The strips in this comic emulate Don Martin’s strips panel-by-panel. We pretty much kept his gags, pacing, and effects to pay tribute to him,” said Ryall.
Veteran comic colorist Tom Ziuko, who contributed his own one-page story to Hero Comics 2012, is among the recipients of Hero’s help.In January 2011 Ziuko found himself hospitalized with acute kidney failure. After battling it out for two months he returned home to recuperate, but landed back in the hospital again several months later for emergency colon surgery.
“I’ve had two brushes with death,” said Ziuko, “the first from kidney failure, the second from emergency surgery. They told me when they wheeled me in to surgery that one in five doesn’t make it off the operating table, and if they do, most need a colostomy bag. In my case, I didn’t have to have that, and I’m so grateful.”
Ziuko, who has worked on classics such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman has no health insurance and was unable to pay for basics such as rent and utilities, much less the mounting pile of hospital and medical bills.
Enter the Hero Initiative.
“My friends raised a couple thousand dollars for me, but it didn’t go very far. The Hero Initiative was there to take care of me. They paid my rent, they paid my utilities,” said Ziuko.
Ziuko described his ordeal in trying to get government assistance at a time when his primary focus should have been his health.“I was only able to get limited assistance to begin with (from the government). You really have to jump through hoops. At one point, I would have been homeless without the Hero Initiative. The government would have given me subsidized housing, the equivalent of a one-room hotel room. That would have meant giving away my cats and most everything I own,” said Ziuko.
Hero Initiative has enabled Ziuko to remain in his home, and to get caught up on bills.
Ryall hopes readers will buy Hero Comics 2012 for the good comic stories and also appreciate the good service the Hero Initiative provides.
“There are a lot of people who contributed mightily to this industry who didn’t expect to fall on hard times,” said Ryall. “Hero Initiative does a great job of paying tribute to old heroes.”
Ziuko said he sees things differently now and tries to derive pleasure out of life every day.
“I don’t know where I’d be right now without the Hero Initiative. They literally saved my life,” said Ziuko.He added, “If you grew up on comic books, if you enjoy comic books, remember that those comics are created by living breathing people who might need your help someday. Not everyone makes millions doing it—some slug it out in the trenches, living paycheck to paycheck. The Hero Initiative is specifically for comic book creators who are down on their luck. It’s a great way to help.”
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