We frequently post news of fundraising efforts for The HERO INITIATIVE (formerly ACTOR), but a quick review might be in order. ACTOR stood for A Commitment To Our Roots and was founded to help cartoonists in need — drawing the funny books is a job without benefits and pensions, and when you’re sick or old enough to be considered out of it, there may be no work, and nothing to fall back on. The story of HERO helping Bill Messner-Loebs is pretty well known, but in a nice interview at Tales of Wonder, director Jim McLauchlin talks about some other cases. Most disbursements from HERO are kept private, for obvious reasons, but it’s important to hear of real life cases and know that this money is going for a damned good cause:
Armando Gil is a comics vet who wound up wiped out when an animation company he worked for went under, and he went unpaid. He didn’t even have the money to renew his driver’s license, and his car got impounded. He was working at a box factory, and couldn’t get to work, and the downward spiral was really starting. We were able to get him some dough to get his car back, and he’s been working steadily, albeit in a field that’s not his first choice—not many kids grow up wanting to be box-makers. But we were able to steer some work his way, and he’s wisely used that dough to reset himself in the art field. He bought a scanner, and finally got an Internet connection, which, face facts, is a business essential. We were able to help him land a new animation job that should get him a few thousand dollars in first quarter of 2007 as well.
We’ve even kept people alive. There was a moment at the San Diego ComiCon in 2004 that was surreal. An artist that we benefited came up to me to thank me for the help we had given him. He was shaking my hand, with tears streaming down his cheeks. He had been living on about $90 a week, and was eating one meal a day before he found us. He didn’t know what to do, or where to turn, and he was ready to take his own life. He had literally written the suicide note when he stumbled across us. We were able to get him back on his feet, and he’s alive today, doing much better. This man wants to remain anonymous, but there are many, many more as well, both public and private.
This is a good thing. Support The Hero Initiative.