Heroes for All

Hero Comics 2011

We’ve discussed the awesomeness of the HERO Initiative at least once before — they’re a not-for-profit charity that works to help comic creators, artists, and writers who are having serious money troubles, whether because of age, illness, or just plain difficulty finding work. They’ll help pay medical expenses, rent, even help creators find paying work in the comics industry.

In decades past, comics creators often didn’t get paid very much for what they did, and they rarely enjoyed pensions or retirement funds. And freelancers today often can’t afford medical insurance. There are all kinds of things that can leave comics creators unable to work in the industry and facing hard times without a safety net. The HERO Initiative does what they can to make things better, and they’re absolutely industry heroes.

They also periodically put out a benefit comic to help raise money and awareness — and this year’s is certainly one of the most impressive I’ve seen — whether we’re talking benefit comics or anthology comics. The spotlight piece is a story called “My Last Landlady” by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, and Sam Keith — the original creators of the Vertigo “Sandman” series. It’s a beautifully painted horror short, claustrophobic and tense, set in a seaside resort. Later, Sam Keith whimsically illustrates the e-mails that he, Gaiman, and Dringenberg exchanged while they were working on the project. We also get a short “Elephantmen” story by Richard Starkings and Dougie Braithwaite, and a psychedelic “Chew” story by John Layman and Rob Guillory.

And on top of that, we get three short one-page stories from Christopher Ivy, Jason Craig, and Ralph Reese, talking about how HERO helped them through tough times. And despite the array of powerhouse talent in the rest of the comic, all turning in outstanding work, these little one-pagers are the most touching and moving stories in here.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Brilliant comics in here — spooky and funny and sad and heartwarming. It’s all for a great cause, it’s definitely worth the four bucks you’ll pay for it — and please visit the HERO Initiative’s site to learn more about what they do.

Dungeons & Dragons #9

Adric Fell and his band of adventurers are stuck in the Feywild and under attack by a bunch of gnolls, but they’ve got aid from Toveliss E’Teall, an Eladrin king — and Adric’s girlfriend’s father. He’s not a big fan of Adric, but he helps them all out anyway. After bringing them to his own magic castle hidden under a waterfall, Toveliss reveals that the Eladrin who were forced through the dimensional portal back in the Dwarven dungeon ended up as disembodied spirits, and the only way to restore them — and the only way Toveliss will agree to send the adventurers back to the normal world — is for the party to travel to the now-ruined City of Stairs, which is now occupied by monstrous Fomorians. After the party battles a dryad (which Khal disarms in a uniquely awesome way), they finally reach the City of Stairs. But to reach their goal, they’re going to have to travel underneath the city…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, great dialogue, and the twist in the battle with the dryad is really superb. All around, a very fun comic book.

Comments are closed.