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Have you had enough of hearing about all the bad things that comic conventions supposedly promote? Well so has Joanne. This week, our resident goddess writes a feel good article about comic conventions and those who run them. She also asks YOU to help those who need it the most.

These past two weeks have signalled the beginning of the convention season for me. My husband and I took out our calendar and started plotting out the year. From March to the end of November, we’ll be travelling around the US and Canada, from show to show. I’m desperately trying to get the next issue of Rummblestrips out and he’s trying to figure out what the new anime craze is for stocking his dealer tables.

The life of a comic book couple.

The first BIG show of the year for us is the Pittsburgh Comicon at the end of April. While this doesn’t compare in size to the Wizards, this is definitely my favorite show. Run by Michael and Renee George, whether you’re an attendee, guest or dealer, you will be treated better at this show than any other. I guess you could call this the "feel good" show of the season as the atmosphere is always friendly and the charity events are in abundance.

Now if I was giving this description of a comic book convention to someone who’d never been to one, they probably wouldn’t believe me. Charity events at a comic convention? All this time, everyone thought we just went to these cons to dress up as super heros and get autographs from our favorite porn stars.

NOT SO!

Don’t you get tired of hearing about all the bad things that comic conventions supposedly represent? Porn, geekiness, violence in comics and games, the lunatic fringe... (have you seen the people hanging outside the Michael Jackson trial? Now THOSE are the ones we should all be worrying about,) I’m TIRED of hearing about how weird we are so I’d like to take this opportunity to showcase the great things that comic conventions and those involved with them do.

First, here’s a list of some of the charity organizations that you can find at comic conventions. They’re set up at most shows and they set up JUST to help those who need it. Make sure to seek these people out and give them your support.

THE COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND (www.cbldf.org) - My first encounter with this group was through their t-shirts. A frightening Frank Miller illustration of a crying woman having band-aids stuck over her eyes, nose and mouth. Here is their mission statement as stated on the CBLDF website:
"The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1986 as a 501 ©) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for members of the comics community"

ACTOR (www.actorcomicfund.org ) - Finally, someone realized that those who came before us deserve to have our support. Here is ACTOR’s mission statement from their website:
"ACTOR, A COMMITMENT TO OUR ROOTS, is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit organization dedicated strictly to help comic book industry vetrans." Honestly, we all know how hard it is to make a living creating comics. Imagine how hard it must be once you’ve retired.”

COMICS4KIDS (www.comics4kids.org) - Comics4kids has this to say about their organization: "Comics4Kids is a not-for-profit company that gives comic books to children. This at once instills a sense of appreciation for literacy, as well as providing vicarious adventure for these children, maybe even comforting them." There are a lot of kids out there who can’t even afford to buy a comic, so if you have comics around that you just don’t need, give these guys a call.”

The giving doesn’t just end there. Remember all the storm troopers you see walking around the show? If you go to their tables, a lot of the time, they’re raising money for local charities as well as having fun.

The conventions themselves quite often organize their own events. I contacted a few cons to see what THEY do to make the world a better place. Here’s what I found out:

MEGACON - February 25-27, (Orlando, Fl)

Indy Film Expo- 5.00 gets you in to see some fantastic films you won’t see anywhere else. Donations to benefit ACTOR.(http://www.actorcomicfund.org/) ACTOR will also be running an art auction.

PITTSBURGH COMICON - April 22-24 (Monroeville, PA)

Make-a-Wish foundation art auction. Last year this auction gave almost 30,000 to the foundation. WOW!

CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) Quick sketch. Buy raffle tickets and sit and watch your favorite artists draw as many fast paces sketches as they can in an hour. All drawings are raffled off and all proceeds go to the fund.

TORONTO COMICON - April 29- May 1st (Toronto, Ontario)

ACTOR Comic Fund

North York Harvest Food Bank - If you bring donations for the Food bank, you’ll get a discount on your weekend pass tot he con.

Comics4kids - not-for-profit company that gives comic books to children. Bring all the books you don’t need or want anymore and they’ll go to those who really want and need them.

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON - July 14-17 (San Diego, CA)

Art Auction. All proceeds for the auction go towards the Disabled Services Department, the shuttle system and sometimes Artists’ Alley. CCI itself is a nonprofit organization so this auction helps run the show, making it the giant success it is.

SPX - September 23-24 (Bethesda, MD)

One of the biggest fund raising events for the CBLDF. Last year, they raised over 22,000. WOW! Jeff Smith and Mike Mignola ALONE raised over $5000

MID OHIO CON - November 26-27 (Columbus, OH)

CBLDF charity auction. Bid on cool items like original art and signed items!

CBLDF Poker Tournament. Now this is a blast. Win thousands of dollars AND donate money to a good cause.

So after reading all this, doesn’t it make you want to run out and grab the first comic fan you see and give them a big HUG?

Ok, so that’s pushing it.

Now, for the next step in giving - and it’s an important one. We are all aware of the enormous devastation the Tsunami created over in many parts of Asia, right? I’ve tried to imagine what it must be like, but I can’t. I live in a city of over 50,000 people and to think that if my city grew to four times it’s size, that population would still not be equal to the number of people who have already died. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. And that’s just the beginning. A decade may pass and some areas hit by the Tsunami will STILL be under reconstruction.

Remember how the comic industry came together to help those affected by 9-11? We’re needed again. To those of you out there who create comic books, who publish comic books, and to those who put together these shows for us to showcase our comic books. Your talents are the perfect tools to help those who have nothing left.

Let’s put together a trade paperback to sell and a charity auction at every major show this year. Let’s raise so much freakin’ money, the news stations will be talking about how the comic community worked together and did something great!

My talents, such as they are, are available to any convention or charity that’s willing to take the next step. I’ll be making some phone calls very soon to various convention liaisons to see what they think of this plan. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing some news on their websites announcing an added charity event.

Cross your fingers!

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