Kate Kotler writes for Bleeding Cool;
"For the past five days, ever since I saw "The Dark Knight Rises" for the second time, I've been trying to put my feelings about what happened in Colorado, into words. I will never understand what can make certain people commit such evil acts. But there's one thing I've known for as long as I can remember; good will always triumph over evil. A guy dressed up as a bat that I saw on a movie screen when I was six years old, taught me that."
-Josh Costella, Modern Myth Media
For me, the morning of July 20, 2012 was a bit reminiscent of the morning of September 11, 2001. In the way that on the evening previous, I went to sleep feeling one way about the world (safe, secure, happy) and woke up to an event that completely changed my world perspective.
If you're reading this website, you surely know of the tragic events which occurred shortly after midnight at an Aurora, Colorado screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
If you don't, in short, a mentally disturbed young man opened fire in a theater packed for the midnight showing of TDKR. He killed 12 people and injured 58 more before he was taken into custody.
For several weeks now I have been struggling to find the words to express how I feel about this tragedy. I have come up way short every time that I have sat down to try and write something about the shooting. (In fact, at one point I asked Rich to pull a column I'd written on this topic from the lineup of articles to be posted on Bleeding Cool, because I felt it was wholly inadequate.) Even the night after the shooting, as I sat around a table sharing drinks with several writer friends, I was at a loss for words to express the emotions I felt about what happened in Aurora earlier that day. We all were at a loss for words.
It was the quietest table of writers you've ever seen.
To date, the only person who has been able to really and truly get to the nut of the matter on this topic is my friend Josh Costella, who writes for Modern Myth Media. His piece "Good Will Always Triumph" beautifully and poignantly expresses, what I believe, all of us associated with the comics industry – be it as a creator, editor, journalist or fan – feel about what happened in Aurora.
In fact, he so perfectly said what we are all feeling, that I'm not going to even try to add to it. I'm just going to let it lie. I want to talk about something else today.
One of the things I love the most about what I do, and frankly, one of the major reasons I keep writing about comics, comics culture and comics creators is because I get to spend my days surrounded by some of the most amazing, creative, kind and generous people I've ever met.
A week or so ago, in the midst of some really awful personal stuff, I started thinking about trying to do something-anything that would help me refocus my energy from my current crappy personal situation onto something positive. At which time, I swiveled around in my big-ass office chair (something I often do while contemplating weighty issues) and my eyes landed upon a big stack of review copies of graphic novels, comics, swag and other comics industry ephemera I'd intended on giving away to readers of Bleeding Cool and The Geek Girls Network.
That is when a light bulb went off over my head. I quickly emailed Rich Johnston and asked him -instead of playing the give away game on BC- if I could donate these materials to a charity which would then use them to raise money for the victims of the Aurora shooting.
Of course, he said yes – and, then pointed me to Jason Farnsworth, All C's Collectibles (the only comic shop in Aurora, Colorado – one of whose patrons was killed in the shooting) and Nick Vanover – better known as the people/comic shop responsible for organizing Aurora Rise.
Aurora Rise is both a community and an event:
On August 26, 2012 All C's Collectibles is holding a benefit event (attended by Matt Fraction, Mike Mignola and Steve Niles – to name a few) and silent auction to raise money for the victims of the shooting.
It is a community, in that it is the intention of Farnsworth and Vanover to continue to raise money and spread aid (much in the tradition of the Hero Initiative) to the larger comics community past when the needs of the people of Aurora have been satisfied.
I think that's amazing. And, completely in the spirit of my friend Josh's article.
On Wednesday or Thursday of last week I Tweeted and posted on Facebook that Bleeding Cool was putting together a box of items we'd been given to send to Aurora Rise and asked Chicago comics people if they'd be willing to throw in items to send along. And, the response from the many creators, LCS owners/managers and comics fans has been amazing.
I wish I could post a picture of all the items which have been donated to me – but, as I haven't got them all in my possession yet, as Wizard World wiped the Chicago "scene" of energy this past weekend, I cannot… What I can do is list all the lovely people who have contributed to this big box of love which will be headed towards Aurora and All C's later this week…
- Graham Crackers Comics donated a hard copy of the Moncyte collection, signed by Menton Matthews and Kasra Ghanbari.
- Menton Matthews then took that hard copy and created amazing original art on the inside cover.
- Kasra Ghanbari has also donated additional signed books.
- Ben Templesmith donated original art and signed books.
- Mike Norton and Tim Seeley donated original art and signed books.
- Kyle Higgins donated a signed copy of The Gates of Gotham.
- Michelle Flamm donated three copies of a limited edition NYCC Ironman 3 poster.
- Aw Yeah! Comics, Art Balthazar and Franco donated original art and some signed books.
- Threadless Tees is donating some awesome and geeky t-shirts.
- Bleeding Cool contributor (and up-and-coming comics artist), Jen Aprahamian donated (adorable) original Batman art.
- My bestie (also an up-and-coming comics artist) Meghan White is donating original art.
- I talked about the benefit last week on the Nerd Nation podcast and they've joined me in getting their listeners to donate items directly to All-C's for the benefit. Gene reports that there have been offers of some really cool original art donations.
- Bleeding Cool (collectively) donated a signed copy of the Official Game of Thrones Cookbook, review copies of Mark Frost's The Paladin Prophecy, the Evelyn Evelyn hardcover from Dark Horse, two Will Eisner books, a galley copy of AJ Scudiere's new book (Phoenix), several signed comics and other random ephmera.
- I have donated a hockey mask used in the filming of Friday the 13th which has been signed by Kane Hodder.
And, this is just what has come in through my own effort over the past weekend. Nick Vanover (whom I had the pleasure to meet this past weekend at Wizard World Chicago) has collected an amazing lot of items to be auctioned at the benefit. And, on Sunday he told me that they might have to "Start giving out items signed by Stan Lee as door prizes" because they had so many which had been donated. Here's a partial list of what he's taken back to Colorado with him:
- Mike McKone – Original "Emma Frost" art
- Troy Zurel – Original "Spider-Man" Art and original "Captain America" art
- Jeff Balke – Hand-colored comic book
- Harley Yee Rare Comics – Hulk 180 (CGC 8.5)
- Terry's Comics – Original Alex Nino "God the Dyslexic Dog" page and original Bill Morrison "The Simpsons" art
- 1821 Comics – Multiple items signed by Stan Lee
- Stan Lee Collectibles – Signed Stan Lee prints
- Super Hero Talent Agency – Pete Woods "Star Wars" print signed by Peter Mayhew and Jeremy Bulloch
- Daniel Vest – Signed print
- Arthur Suydam – Signed books and prints
- Renee Witterstaeter – Signed books
- Michael Golden – Signed sketchbook and prints
- Joe Jusko – Signed prints
- Mark Texeira – Signed prints
- Planet Super Hero – Signed LE Alex Ross print
- Hot Flips – Top-loaders for prints & original art
Nick also says, "Bob Luedke designed a print for Aurora Rise and has generously offered to donate the proceeds to the Aurora Rise fund raising campaign. By Saturday night, he had sold over forty prints. During the show, artists and celebrities also signed a poster-sized version of Bob's piece for auction."
This experience and the way the wonderful people of the greater comics community have pulled together to help the community of Aurora, Colorado move past this great tragedy has made my heart feel full and happy. It has confirmed for me the thesis of Josh's article – "good will always triumph." And, personally, it has made me proud to be friends with so many amazingly generous, talented and wonderful people.
If you'd like to donate items or money to Aurora Rise, you can find out more information on how to do that by following them on Facebook or Twitter:
I will also be collecting donations for a second box of items up until September 11, 2012 – as I know that there are artists I talked to this weekend who won't be able to finish their contributions until I see them at Baltimore Comic Con. If you are in Chicago or will be at Baltimore and would like to give me items to ship (to avoid cost to you), I'd be happy to include them in my next box to Aurora Rise.
"Over the coming months and years, many debates will be had and blame will be pushed from one area to the other over what happened. The events will be politicized and trivialized. So many people will offer their opinions and solutions but frankly, it's too little too late. These were the actions of one evil person. All we can hope for now is that justice will prevail.
It's very common to feel helpless when tragedies like this occur. I can't stop myself from thinking about what if I was there that night with those people in the theater. Why wasn't I there? Could I have done something? Those are questions that can never be answered. However, what we can do now is send good thoughts, wishes, payers, and assistance to those that need it and will need it for a long time to come."
–Josh Costella, Modern Myth Media
I am exceptionally proud today to be part of the comics community. You should be, too.
Kate Kotler is a columnist for Bleeding Cool, an Associate Editor of the Geek Girls Network and the host of the Comix Chix podcast. A Chicago based freelance writer, you can follow her personal ramblings on her website or via the Twitters @adorkablegrrl.