Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gene Colan Tribute at NY ComicCon

New York ComicCon has asked me to chair a tribute panel to Gene Colan at this year’s convention. As such, I spent the early part of this evening chatting with Johnny Romita Sr., Tom Palmer, Joe Sinnott, Roy Thomas and Don McGregor. Everyone loved Gene and has wonderful memories they’d be delighted to share—it’s really just a question of who will be coming to con. I’ve also reached out to Walter Simonson and David Lloyd, who I believe will have unique perspectives on Gene’s influence. Stay tuned.

Pictured: David Lloyd, Hank Magitz and Gene Colan at NY ComicCon 2010

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Honoring Gene Colan & Dave Cockrum

Dan Bertwell sent me the below letter and HERO assures me this is on the up and up. So I support these efforts and hope many of you will, too:

My name is Dan Bertwell and I am running two marathons within the first two weeks of October to raise money for the Hero Initiative. Comics were an escape for me when I was very young and I latched onto the X-Men, Colossus in particular, right away. I stopped collecting when I became a teenager (mostly for financial reasons) and got back into it while in my twenties. Soon after I returned I was saddened to hear that Dave Cockrum, who had created many of the characters and drawn many of the stories that I loved so much, had passed away. His family mentioned in his obituary that, rather than sending flowers, fans should make donations to the Hero Initiative. This was the first I’d heard of the charity.

The Hero Initiative is a non-profit with a very simple purpose: to assist comic creators in need. Like many people, I’ve seen the Hero table at various cons in the past few years, and I’ve donated some cash into the collection jars that they set up. Earlier this year I decided that I’d like to run another marathon but wanted this run to benefit others as well as myself. I decided to run for the Hero Initiative because I wanted to give back to the comic community.

The recent passing of Gene Colan cemented in my mind that I should run two marathons and dedicate them to Mr. ockrum and Mr. Colan and all of the creators that have brought so many great stories into my life. I’ll run the New Hampshire Marathon on October 1 and the Hartford Marathon on October 15 and I hope very much that anyone able to donate will do so by going to

All told, between training and the races, I’m going to run somewhere between 500 and 600 miles. I hope that all that work can help out some creators in need.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ovie Mughelli is Making Comics

As reported here, Pro Bowl fullback for the Atlanta Falcons, will be announcing his own comics property later this week. The project is being developed in conjunction with writer Clifford Meth ( Snaked from IDW) and artist Michael Netzer (Batman, Superboy, Web of Spider-Man). Mughelli, who had a breakout 2010 Pro Bowl season, signed a six-year, $18 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus on March 2, 2007 with the Falcons, the largest contract given to a fullback in NFL history at the time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ethics Versus Self Interest. And the Winner Is…?

The news wrinkle in the on-going coverage of Leiby Kletzky’s murder isn’t the fund that this child’s parents have set up in a valiant effort to combat grief by doing good. Instead, it’s the flap over whether or not Gerard Marrone, one of two defense attorneys representing Levi Aron (the confessed murderer), should have quit the case.

“The allegations were too horrific—it's not something I wanted to be involved in," Marrone told Eyewitness News. “I have three boys. One of my sons is seven. I looked at my own children, and there are no words.”

Unlike those Jewish attorneys from the ACLU who represented Nazi rights to march in Skokie, Illinois in 1978, or William Kuntsler (another born Jew) who defended Rabbi Meir Kahane’s murderer, Gerard Marrone (whose faith we can only guess at), holds his ethical platform higher than his potential earnings ceiling. The skeptics among us will seek less than pristine motives for Marrone recusing himself, but it seems clear to me that this man holds principiles above potential movie-of-the-week deals. He doesn’t want to help the beast Levi Aron. He doesn’t want to breathe the same air Aron exhales.

Sadly, it’s a Jew (or perhaps just a Phillip Rothian Jew) who takes public issue with Marrone’s retreat. Defense attorney Scott Greenfield, on his Simple Justice blog, attacks Marrone for stepping away. “He knew the allegations going in,” writes Greenfield. “He knew what he was getting involved with. He chose to do so, a choice which is admirable in that everyone, even Levi Aron, must be given a defense… But now, even though nothing has significantly changed, Marrone has made another choice… He's chosen to quit, to walk away from his client and in the process, to announce that he, as defense lawyer, is too sickened by his client's actions to remain beside him. This he cannot do.”

Does this blog post qualify Greenfield to join the ranks of George Soros and other Juddenrat who willingly sacrificed their fellow Jews for purely self-interest? Perhaps not. But we know where Greenfield’s values lie. Like Kunstler, Ron Kuby and other "defenders" of the justice system, Greenfield feigns sanctifying an ever-reinterpreted Constitution as if the tablet were given by a god that these men profess to not believe in anyway.

But the simple truth is the quest for fame, or minimally widespread popularity (a lesser fame to be certain) are also too enticing for men like Greenfield. Having one's blog quoted by major media outlets will likely raise his per diem. This type of lawyer can’t fathom walking away from his generation’s Lindberg kidnapping.

But men of good conscience, men like Marrone, raise the bar of human dignity by reminding us that all the hoopla surrounding this soon-to-be-much-publicized trial (which has the potential to make media stars of prosecutors and counsel alike) is just so much noise obscuring the real story. Because the real story is that of a family who lost a child, and the enormous swelling of empathy that’s coming from all corners, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. Even from an attorney who just walked away from the potential of extending his fifteen minutes into a major career milestone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Leiby Kletzky and The Rest of Us

I spoke with a friend this morning about the news coming out of Boro Park, which is too much for any of us to shoulder alone. It takes a village to raise a child, and to bury one.

I had called and emailed many people last night, my own grown sons among them. I begged that people perform extra deeds of kindness and spiritual charity to help balance the scales. Writing checks and dropping coins in pushkas and saying T’hillim (Psalms) is not enough—vital, but not enough. It is the rebalancing of realms that’s necessary. We live in a world where monsters dwell. Monsters who hurt children. And we need grace.

There is only one way to achieve grace, and it encompasses many smaller ways. And we need no preacher nor specific guidelines to understand what is called for. We need only place ourselves in the minds of those parents whose child went missing yesterday and did not return home. Their torment is unimaginable except to those who have experienced just this (may the Al-mighty spare them from further grief).

Had I lived anywhere near the area, I’d have joined the hundreds and hundreds who searched day and night for this little child. I considered driving there and joining them but I decided that the myriad search parties—all locals and many professionals—were sufficient. Instead, I gave an offering: I phoned someone that I have avoided speaking with for a decade—someone who holds me in colossal contempt—and apologized profusely for anything I might have done to offend them. It didn’t matter what occurred years ago; it didn’t matter if I considered myself the injured party. The important thing is peace. Peace is the vessel that contains blessings in this world. We learn these lessons too late.

I entreated the Al-mighty to add my merit to those who prayed for this boy’s safe return. That was last night. Then came the news this morning, which was too much to contain.

We hang our heads. And we must content ourselves with knowing that random acts of kindness are done for their own sake. Rebalancing the world is a responsibility we all share.

There will always be monsters. The rest of us must maintain balance.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Silence

After Gene died, it seemed like a hundred other horrible things happened in rapid succession. But at 50 I am no longer inclined to list them.

Neither am I writing at the moment. I am reading extraordinary letters by an extraordinary man who left this world in 1996 and that seems to be enough. I am genuinely considering an exit from any sort of public life, including publishing.

I remain in touch with my friends--with sensei Richard Lenchus, Paty Cockrum, my pal Harlan, and with several writers, artists and musicians whose work and whose nature (like Michael Netzer, Richard Manitoba, Peppi Marchello, Steve Forbert and Don McGregor) are uplifting and make one proud to be part of the same species, though others work endlessly to cast shame on the lot. I am devastated about this missing child in Brooklyn.

I will be 50 and a half next month. I am back to counting half birthdays like a child. I'm not sure if I will ever seek to publish fiction again. It really wasn't fiction anyway. And the death of the book in America calls for a certain reverence by those of us who care enough to be reverent.