The weirdness – and tyranny – of COVID-19 wasn’t supposed to last this long. I will admit I thought It would all be over by this fall.
I miss in-person comic cons. The lack of conventions is a drag. I always enjoy pawing through long boxes and looking lost treasures. I love seeing the cool vintage collectibles and new toys. But what I really miss are the people. I miss the buzz of the fans. Their unique, positive excitement is, I would argue, unique to Geek Culture. It’s different from fans going to a concert or a big sports game. Although each of those types of events have their own enthusiastic fans, it’s an entirely different flavor than what you would find at comic conventions.
Maybe people are nicer to one another? Maybe they are more excited? Maybe it’s that shared joy that comes from finally finding your own tribe? I’m not sure, but whatever it is, I miss it.
I miss the old normal of comic shops too. In my neck of the woods (The Finger Lakes Region of New York State) they are all open again. Finally. But there’s still a stilted caution that is a part of every visit. Everyone’s a little more cautious. Everyone lingers a little less. Everyone finds some excuse to cut short their visits.
Publisher’s schedules are getting backing to normal. I’m hearing positive news, anecdotally, that some publishers are actually doing pretty good right now. That’s encouraging news.
On the other hand, so many comic shops are still struggling. They’ve had to pivot, to adapt and to get ready for the new reality, and it hasn’t been fun.
Give Comics Hope is a new initiative that’s looking to make a difference. Their premise is straightforward:
Give Comics Hope is an ambitious charitable initiative that calls on all members of our community to rally together to provide vital aid to comic book shops.
These small businesses are the heart and roots of our vibrant comic book community. They are our clubhouse! By uniting together and giving back, we can pay it forward to those who nurtured our love of comic books for ourselves and for future fans to come.
The idea is pretty remarkable. Give Comics Hope is asking folks to donate some of the items in their collections, and then auctioning them off. Supporters can either send in collectibles for the auction, or spend some money buying the items at the auction. Of course, if you want to just send in some money you can do that too. And then comic shops in need simply fill out a form, and the funds will be distributed, in proportion to the stores sales. The intent is to contribute toward replacing lost sales, using a fair method to determine distribution, and to ensure that stores get funds corresponding to their need.
The GAP has a cool new campaign called Stand United. It’s pretty great, and I’m not afraid to reveal I just love the song they use. It’s Kristina Train’s new version of an old Youngblood song. (Now that Mike Gold’s radio show is on pause I don’t have anywhere to discover gems like this.) Recently, I heard Gap CMO Mary Alderete explain that their effort is really about Modern American Optimism. I like that term and I think it applies to Give Comics Hope too.
Does Give Comics Hope sound interesting to you? I hope it does. Jump on in or just help spread the word. And you find out more here.
Oh, as a bit of full disclosure: I like the idea so much that I’m volunteering.
Here are some folks who have gotten behind this initiative:
And this guy….
Here is the Press Release announcing the project:
September 15, 2020 – GIVE COMICS HOPE, a new charitable initiative, today announced its formation and a call for public donations alongside high value, unique items donated by industry professionals to support two upcoming charitable auctions. The initiative was created by and headed by comic book industry veteran Bill Schanes and designed for all members of our community to rally together to provide vital aid to comic book stores, the heart and roots of our vibrant comic book community.
GIVE COMICS HOPE is an ambitious charitable initiative created in response to the financial impact created by the current global health crisis on the pivotal small businesses at the center of the comic book industry – comic book shops. Created by and spearheaded by former Vice President of Purchasing of Diamond Comic Distributors and co-founder of Pacific Comics, Bill Schanes, GIVE COMICS HOPE is supported by a group of current and former comic book industry professionals, who have all donated their time and resources to initially bring two auction initiatives to life.
GIVE COMICS HOPE’s initial charitable efforts will be focused on two auctions designed to raise an initial slate of funds to be distributed to comic book stores in early 2021. GIVE COMICS HOPE is calling on publishers, creators, retailers, fans, convention organizations, printers, media, and indeed every member of the community to unite together and give back to comic book shops by donating premium collectibles from their personal collections to two upcoming charitable auctions.
“I’ve been blessed to work in the comic book industry for almost 50 years as a publisher and distributor,” said Bill Schanes, founder of GIVE COMICS HOPE. “But I began my journey as a professional in comics as a retailer which is how I know that retailers are the heart of the comic book community. Now is the time to pay it forward and save comic shops not only for ourselves, but for future fans to come.”
The first auction will be conducted by Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer, for all received donations with an estimated value of $500 or more to take place between Wednesday, October 28, 2020 and Wednesday, November 11, 2020. The initial auction will include donations from industry insiders including cover art from The Walking Dead donated by Image Comics partner Robert Kirkman, paintings by legendary artist Bill Sienkiewicz, Star Wars original art by award-winning artist P. Craig Russell, original art from New Mutants #88 by Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, original art from X-Factor #55 and Amazing Spider-Man #326 signed by New York Times bestselling artist Colleen Doran, , Excalibur #125 original art signed by Dave Hoover, and many, many more. Public donations for the first auction are due by Friday, October 2, 2020.
“Heritage Auctions has long been proud and honored to be the premier auction house for comic books, comic art, and related collectibles,” said Barry Sandoval, Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “When Bill approached us with the opportunity to give back to the comic shops that spark the lifelong love of this medium in countless fans and collectors, we leapt at the chance.”
The second auction will be conducted by Jesse James Comics/Comic Book Shopping Network in partnership with eBay. All public donations with an estimated value of $499 or less will be offered through public auctions and “Buy It Now” opportunities on eBay between Wednesday, November 11, 2020 and Friday, December 11, 2020. Public donations for the second auction are due by Wednesday, November 4, 2020.
“It’s been my privilege to provide great comic book experiences and the best in comic book therapy for almost 40 years,” said Jesse James, owner of Jesse James Comics and President of Comic Book Shopping Network. “Our industry is stronger when customers have many options to find the comic book community that is right for them. It’s my pleasure to help my retail brethren by leveraging our brand’s strength on eBay and the power of CBSN to raise money for GIVE COMICS HOPE.”
GIVE COMICS HOPE has partnered with the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to assisting comic retailers and booksellers, to oversee the management and disbursement of the funds raised by GIVE COMICS HOPE. The initiative will take no organizational fees, and will only deduct any actual, direct costs incurred from the funds raised. Since its inception, Binc has provided over $9 million in financial assistance and scholarships to more than 9000+ families. Support for the Foundation’s programs and services comes from all sectors of the book and comic industries. The Foundation was imagined and built by booksellers and proudly continues to be their safety net. In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the book and comic industries came together in an extraordinary way allowing Binc to help 2,191 booksellers, comic retailers, and stores with $2.7 million in urgently needed assistance.
“We are honored to work with Bill and his team of passionate volunteers to further help comic book stores during this unprecedented time. We know the funds raised from this visionary initiative will help neighborhood comic shops continue to serve their customers and their communities,” said Pam French, Binc Foundation’s executive director. “Together, we are working to help comic retailers through the many challenges they are faced with, so they can continue doing the work they love – selling comics.”
Additional information regarding GIVE COMICS HOPE, including details on how to donate, ideas for what to donate, suggestions for how to support the initiative without a collectible donation, and testimonial videos, are available at www.givecomicshope.org. The GIVE COMICS HOPE logo was created by Craig Yoe of Yoe Studio. The GIVE COMICS HOPE website was designed and is managed by Gary Smith of AtPlay Creative.
For continuing news on GIVE COMICS HOPE and its auctions, stay tuned to www.givecomicshope.org and follow @givecomicshope on Instagram and Facebook, and @comicsgive on Twitter.
ABOUT GIVE COMICS HOPE
Give Comics Hope was founded by Bill Schanes in 2020 as a direct response to the impact felt by comic book retailers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Give Comics Hope is an ambitious charitable initiative that calls on all members of our community to rally together to provide vital aid to these small businesses. By uniting together and giving back, we can pay it forward to those who nurtured our love of comic books for ourselves and for future fans to come. Please visit www.givecomicshope.org for more information.