You may recognise Peter Pantazis' name for his long carer as a colourist, colouring comics including 51 issues of Trinity, 30 of Justice League of America, 26 of Earth 2, 35 of Powers, 23 of Astro City, 18 of New X-Men and 17 of Blue Beetle. Hundreds and hundreds in total. But in recent years, work seems to have dried up and he is facing financial ruin if he can't save his house. As well as reminding people of his portfolio of work, he has launched a GoFundMe, that currently includes donors Laura Martin and Richard Isanove. This is his story.
My name is Peter Pantazis and I want to profusely thank you for taking the time to read this.
I am in a scenario I never envisioned and am turning over every stone to find a way to keep my family from losing our home. I am a freelance artist with a wife, mother-in-law and three boys (one 8-year old, one 14-year old and one 17-year old nephew we have raised since birth) to protect. Due to extreme circumstances (presented below), an auction date of February 12th has been placed on our home. We are desperately trying to come up with the funds to re-instate our mortgage. I have struggled to put this together since I do not want to impose on anyone, but I simply do not know where else to turn. My pride has gone by the wayside and I am praying that you will consider helping my family, who are everything to me. Literally every dollar could be the dollar that adds up to saving us. Please don't feel any amount is too small.
For the last 20 plus years I have been a professional freelance graphic artist working in the wonderful world of comics and graphic novels. I have worked for Marvel, DC, Image Comics, Disney Publishing, Insight Editions, Legendary, and more. I've had the privilege of digitally coloring/painting almost every character in each of the Marvel and DC Universes. My career has demanding deadlines, offers no healthcare options, vacation days, or overtime pay, but it has put food on the table and a roof over our heads. I have appreciated every minute of this dream job. My 12 year old geek self would have been amazed to know I landed a career in comics…
I believe in working hard and earning what I need to provide for my family. I never envisioned myself needing to ask others for help. My wife Jen (my high school sweetheart) and I are private people who have lived modestly and when we've gone through hard times, tried to work through them together. The circumstances of the last three years have rocked all of this.
During my career, there have been many ups and downs – times when work would slow down or even dry up – but I would always find a path forward or a new project…something that would allow me to catch up if we fell a little behind. I made sure to keep my nose to the grindstone and work to find solutions to whatever was thrown our way. In this industry, change is a constant and I had always adapted with it by learning new styles, new techniques and methods.
Those who know us, know that along with Sarah (Jen's mom), Jen and I have raised our nephew from birth. In our eyes, he is our first son. He is on the spectrum and for his entire life, we have worked to make sure he had everything he needed, including a stable home life. Three years ago, his mentally unstable mother tried to remove him from our home – the only home he has ever known. Given the choice of having him stay in his safe home environment with us or placed in foster care, she wanted to choose foster care. Of course, we fought this with everything we had, and an ugly, lengthy court battle ensued. Thankfully, the court realized she was unfit and he remained with us. Unfortunately, the court costs were more than $50,000, which completely decimated our finances.
The same time our battle in court was winding down, my incoming work slowed. I fell behind in all aspects financially. The mortgage began to pile up missed payments. Still reeling emotionally from our previous losses, I discovered and reached out to Hero Initiative (a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators, writers and artists in need) and they jumped in immediately to stop the loss of our home at that time. I am forever grateful and thankful to them. In addition, Hero Initiative tried to help me secure new projects. It seemed the path to finding work was looking hopeful with their help. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
Months later with only a few new projects in hand, I found myself bewildered and beside myself that, yet again, I was drastically behind in the mortgage. Seeing that work had been coming in dribs and drabs, I sent out resumes, contacted people I hadn't worked for in years, began teaching art, took projects that paid half what I would normally make just to try to make ends meet. I recently learned that a new law was passed (AB5) which affects how companies hire and pay freelance artists, which explains the loss of work from previously reliable clients.
I called the mortgage company month in and month out to let them know that I was aware I was behind, but that I was working to find a way to catch up. They seemingly understood. After some time, the mortgage company suggested I file for a loan modification. I jumped at the chance to be able to do this, filed the paper work and sent them everything they requested. They in turn would come back and ask for more details, or something new. The process was stretched out even longer…until they declined and placed an auction date on our home.
With nowhere else to turn and funds depleted, Hero Initiative again stepped in by helping us hire a lawyer. It seemed the only way to save our home was to file a Chapter 13 to stop the sale and repay what I owe the mortgage company. At this time, I do not know if the plan will or will not be approved (we've been told there is a high chance it will not be) and the auction date of February 12th is quickly approaching.
A Chapter 13 places a new financial "choke hold" on our family. If the plan is even approved, we would owe our normal mortgage payment plus an additional monthly amount (in the hundreds) that repays what was owed – over five years – there would be no grace period and no room for error. The funds would go through a trustee, who adds a monthly 10% fee in addition. One missed payment and the mortgage company will place a new auction date on our home. My career has never had traditional payment cycles, it is deadline based; therefore, I am trying desperately to avoid the penalizing nature of this plan.
I am in need of $40,000 to reinstate my mortgage. I am very aware that this is a tremendous amount of money and I cannot believe that I am in a situation where I am asking for that much.
After what has happened, my credit is destroyed and there are simply no funds to put a down payment/deposit on anything. Particularly with special needs, keeping my boys in their stable home is paramount.
I thank you for your time, ask that you please help if you are able, and that you share this with anyone you think might be in a position to assist us in this time of crisis. Someday soon, when we have found our footing and are able to breathe, we want nothing more than to pay it forward to others who need help and to the amazing Hero Initiative.
Please help me fix this for my boys. They are everything to me. My eternal gratitude to all of you who help.