Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

May 9, 2012

Why I Wrote A (Very Modest) Check To The Hero Initiative


This site reported yesterday that as of Tuesday morning approximately $1100 has been given to the charity The Hero Initiative in donations related to the opening of the Avengers movie. The reason why these donations materialized in the first place is that it had been suggested here and several other, more well-trafficked places on-line that fans might wish to match their Avengers ticket price with a donation to the charity that seeks to assist creators in financial distress. It was further suggested this might be an attractive option for those that harbored doubts about Marvel's longstanding, neglectful-to-antagonistic behavior towards Avengers creators like Jack Kirby and Don Heck.

imageI thought there would be a few grand donated. I was disappointed to hear an $1100 figure. Don't get me wrong: I'm blown away that anyone gives to charity, period. It's tough right now. No matter how much you know about where your contribution is going, donating to a charity is an act of faith that the money will be used wisely. None of my disappointment in hearing the $1100 was with those that gave. I certainly don't want anyone that did that generous thing to feel like they were had. It's a good thing to give money to charity, particularly one that is present and waiting when someone needs help. Every bit helps. When fewer people than expected give, every dollar becomes more important, not less.

Still, it's likely that less than 100 people with a few more to come (the charity predicts that 90 percent of the total giving in this instance already took place) chose to do this. That doesn't seem like a lot of people to me. I harbored no illusions that a significant number of the film's attendees would care about the original characters or their creators or know about the Hero Initiative, and it was beyond reason to think tens of thousands of film-goers would be paying close enough attention to hear this collective call to alms. I did think that there were several hundred people out there that know the Hero Initiative and who read comics sites where this idea was floated that were headed to this movie. I'm still sure this is true.

Despite not seeing the movie, I cut a check about an hour after hearing the news. It seemed like the right thing to do. The thing is, it shouldn't take much to get comics' devoted readers and professionals to participate in an act of community like supporting its institutions. Ten dollars can buy someone a couple of weeks of pills at the Wal-mart pharmacy, or pay for a meal. These are not things that should be dismissed nor ever taken lightly. A few dollars may certainly be more helpful in concrete terms than making sarcastic commentary on-line and then turning to your buddies for a virtual high-five after a particularly witty salvo. We have this thing in comics where we want to win and sometimes we forget to just do and let the winning and losing take care of itself. I think it's time we maybe started pursuing what's right and what's necessary regardless of how it makes us look and feel. If you feel as I do that comics is soaked with exploitative practices, there are any number of ways to reduce this, starting with some of our own behavior. It's all important.

I also gave yesterday because I owe Jack Kirby that kind of consideration. We lost Maurice Sendak this week. That's a big thing. There are dozens of Jack Kirby comics that I read with as much passionate focus as I utilized consuming Where The Wild Things Are. Like Kamandi #10. There were not 100 things better in my young life not people than Kamandi #10. I'm honored to give to something in the King's name. That I get to give something that could be used on behalf of any of the dozens of people that helped me get through childhood in a more modest way than the King Of Comics did, perhaps someone that worked on the Avengers, a title through which I can recall the flavor and feel of every year from seven years old to fifteen, well, that's just lovely.

I hope you'll think about joining me, whether you're seeing the movie, not seeing the movie; whatever. Ten dollars is what three comics cost these days (if you're lucky), or a mixed drink with tip in a San Diego hotel bar, or a morning's worth of coffee + refills. It's not much, and it can mean the world. More importantly, it's a chance to do, not just say.

You can find donation information here.

posted 8:35 am PST | Permalink

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