By Ian Melton. reporting for Bleeding Cool in Portland Oregon, at Wizard World Portland.
There are many heroes in comic books. Mostly we see super heroes in the pages of comic books, sometimes every day heroes as well, but the heroes behind the scenes are truly rare. There is also the Hero Initiative, a non-profit that in its own words "creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work." If you go to a comic convention, like the recently held Wizard World Portland on January 23rd – 25th, you would see many creators with clear buckets on their tables noting the creator ""will gladly sign your books" but all they ask for is a donation for the Hero Initiative. Creators from Kurt Busiek, to Arthur Suydam, to Christos Gage, these buckets and requests are mainstays at conventions now, and an important part of helping this great charity. However, Wizard World Portland's true Hero Initiative hero was Steve Lieber.
Lieber has been working in comic books since the early 1990's and is noted for his work with Greg Rucka on Whiteout, as well as runs on Detective Comics and other Batman books, and having drawn, coloured, inked, and written a wide variety of material. However, work with Matt Fraction on Hawkeye #7 is what has brought him more into the spotlight. "I just found out the other day for sure that it was that issue that got me noticed and recommended to be the artist on The Superior Foes of Spider-Man" Lieber noted, talking to Bleeding Cool, and this has led to a partnership with writer Nick Spencer.
Coming off of the end of The Superior Foes of Spider-Man they will work again on their new creator owned series from Image, The Fix. When asked about The Fix, Lieber said there aren't any pages to show yet because he doesn't get to start drawing it until he wraps up an arc for Valianet Entertainment.
Steve Lieber: "I have to finish "Quantum and Woody Must Die!" first so we hope to have it out later this year in the fall."
Ian Melton: "What issue are you working on for Quantum and Woody?"
Steve Lieber: "#3 out of 4."
IM: "Why do you and Nick Spencer make such a great team?"
SL: "We challenge each other and totally get each other in terms of storytelling and humor. It's just great fun to work with him!"
For Lieber, bringing humour back into comics is really important and, in talking with him, the term "cartoonist" came up more than once and why he is such a huge supporter of the Hero Initiative.
SL: "I worked with and learned from some great cartoonists who feel on bad times and the Hero Initiative really is something that helps take care of them."
Steve Lieber was a large draw at Wizard World Portland, since he drew the Wizard World Portland variant cover for Walking Dead #1, something he refers to as "an afternoon of drawing", not a huge deal to him. To that end, when he received his complimentary copies of the book, both the colour and the rarer black-and-white copies, he decided to sell them at the show, something most creators who do these covers do as it brings in a good amount of cash. However, if you tried to buy one of these covers from him at Wizard World Portland he wouldn't take the cash; he would point at the Hero Initiative bucket. All the profit from selling these comics, with or without signatures by the artist, will go straight to the Hero Initiative, something Lieber decided to do himself and something that brought in thousands of dollars for the Hero Initiative, and truly makes this creator a hero.
Rich adds: Steve Lieber later confirmed to us "The final tally reported to me by The Hero Initiative was $2466. I'm proud of it, but it doesn't come close to Phil Hester's exhausting day of fundraising on Jack Kirby's birthday. All I had to do was sign my name over and over. Phil drew 97 drawings of Kirby characters!"