The Hero Initiative

The Hero Initiative, formerly known as A Commitment to Our Roots, or ACTOR, is the first federally recognized not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators, writers and artists in need. Founded in late 2000 by a consortium of comic book and trade publishers including Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Wizard Entertainment, CrossGen Comics and Dynamic Forces Inc., the 501(c)(3) charity aims to assist comic creators with health, medical, and quality-of-life assistance.

Eligibility

Many early comic creators, whose work laid the foundation of entire fictional universes and the billion-dollar companies that profit from them, were often paid very little for their work, and were not allowed to keep their creations. According to the organization, "to be eligible for financial assistance from Hero, an applicant must have been a working comic book writer, penciler, inker, colorist or letterer on a work-for-hire basis for no less than 10 years since January 1, 1934."

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements may apply for aid, which could vary from medical assistance, or paying the rent, to help finding a job (in or out of the comics industry). Hero's benefits are not meant to be a permanent crutch for needy creators, but a helping hand in getting back on one's feet or keeping their financial head above water. Any granted aid is kept confidential.

Board of directors

The Hero Initiative has two boards of directors: the Executive Board and the Fund Disbursement Board.

The Executive Board, which handles fund raising and handles operations, comprises Hero Initiative President Jim McLauchlin, former editor-in-chief of Top Cow Comics; comics creator Brian Pulido; and Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. The board members are Steve Borock, president of the Comics Guaranty Corporation; industry retailer Mike Malve; film-maker Guillermo del Toro; and Beth Widera, owner of comic book convention MegaCon. Former board members include founders Pat McCallum, editor-in-chief of Wizard Magazine; and Mike Richardson, publisher and founder of Dark Horse Comics.

The Fund Disbursement Board, who hear cases for aid and make all final decisions on who to aid, act independent of the Executive Board, and is comprised entirely of comics creators, writers, artists, and editors. They are (co-chair) George Pérez, (co-chair) Roy Thomas, Dick Giordano, (board secretary) Charlie Novinskie, Dennis O'Neil, John Romita Sr., and Jim Valentino.

The charity is currently supported by Dark Horse Comics, Dynamic Forces, Image Comics, Marvel Entertainment, Top Cow Productions, and Wizard Entertainment.

Fundraising

The Hero Initiative utilizes many methods of fundraising. Foremost is their annual art auction, auctioning donated original comics art-work at fan conventions. Year-long they sell donated art and special edition comics at conventions and through the Dynamic Forces website. Artists, writers, and publishers are invited to donate work, and fans are invited to donate money directly to the fund. ACTOR also sells a green Excelsior! wrist-band similar in design to the Live Strong band.

Name

The Hero Initiative was formerly known as A Commitment to Our Roots, or ACTOR, from its founding until September 2006. While the original name of the organization reflected the charity's goal, the acronym that resulted, ACTOR, more often confused people unfamiliar with the organization. In an effort to expand the marketability and fund-raising ability of the charity, the executive board decided to change the name to something more associated with comic books, thus the new name, Hero, named after the common and recognizable comic industry word Superhero.

External links

* [http://www.heroinitiative.org/ The Hero Initiative] comic fund website
* [http://www.dynamicforces.com/htmlfiles/c-Actor.html ACTOR store] at DynamicForces.com
* [http://www.sequentialtart.com/article.php?id=477 April 2007 Interview with Jim McLauchlin for Sequential Tart Webzine]


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