Thursday, January 7, 2010

Saddle Up For Heroes

John Wayne is famous for many things, not the least of which is being one of the greatest movie stars of all time. He is also famous for a quotation:

“Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway”

That quotation struck me so deeply that, to this day I have it on the wall of my office as a reminder that fear is universal and not something to be ashamed of.

There are many kinds of fear. Fear of failure, fear of physical harm, fear of dying.

As we get older many of us start to become afraid that we will lose our jobs or sources of income and not be able to take care of ourselves or our family. This is a very powerful, often paralytic fear. It is the fear of being helpless. Most of us would rather go toe to toe with Galactus than feel helpless. Now when a person is in that position if he or she harkens to the wisdom of The Duke and saddles up, they will find that there are many organizations filled with dedicated people who can help. You don’t have to “saddle up” alone.

Our hobby has an organization that is dedicated to helping out Comic Creators who find themselves in need. It is called The Hero Initiative. You may have heard of them, perhaps not. Below is a description from their website.

“In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $200,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment. “

Those of you who have been reading my posts over the last year or so know that I have a very soft spot in my heart for creators. Artists are people who create in a world where destruction is a far more common occurrence. They add to the human condition. It does not matter if it is a singer or an actor, a painter or a comic book creator. It doesn’t even matter if you or I think they are particularly talented. They all leave the world richer simply by being artists.

To many people Comic Books may seem a silly, even juvenile form of entertainment but as a boy I learned concepts like honor, sacrifice, friendship, right and wrong from the works of Jack Kirby and Curt Swan, Gene Colan, Gil Kane and Stan Lee…and so many more. In fact I did not even know all their names because comic creators often went without credit. They were paid by the page (poorly) and with very few exceptions had no ownership of their creations.

These creators did not MAKE me who I am but they sure as hell helped with my moral compass . As a kid I took life lessons from Superman more seriously than the same lesson from my mother (who couldn’t bend steel in her bare hands).

I figure I owe them for that. I figure some of you might just feel the same way.

So I am asking you to “saddle up” and take a long look at the Hero Initiative website. Check out Hero Initiative sponsored products or even just “tweet” this blog post.

I admit to being a raging sentimentalist and that John Wayne is one of my heroes. He might very easily have said about Hero Initiative’s goals.

“Well I don’t know about giving a hand out Pilgrim, but I’d be mighty proud to offer a hand UP”
A hand out is what you give to strangers. A hand up is what you give to friends and I consider any comic creator a friend.

I reckon you all do too.

Think about all the pleasant hours you have spent reading and talking about comics. Think about times when you had a rotten day and you were cheered up, diverted or even inspired by the work of a comic creator. Think about all the times you wanted to be able to leap a tall building, spin a web or save the world. Think about your friends.

Now go…be Heroes

That’s 30!


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