"I have somewhat of a personal request. A little back story first: A girl friend of mine has a son who loves superheroes. I've been trying to get her and her kids to come out to Fanfare next weekend, as she'll have them that weekend. At this point I don't think they'll make it out; even on Sunday when it's free for kids and I have a free pass to boot. Here is what I was thinking: His birthday is that weekend anyway, and even if they can't make it I was thinking of putting together a Fanfare 'care package,' so to speak. I was going to throw in a set of Avengers prints and a Joker print (He loves Batman and Watchmen, and he's in elementary school, so the kid knows his stuff), but I was wondering if anyone would be willing to contribute a print, sketchcard, original sketch, or whatever, so that after the show I can mail him all sorts of sweet stuff.
This all stems from this: My friend told me she took him shopping for school and wanted to buy him a 'Dark Knight Rises' shirt with Bats fighting Bane. You know, totally sweet threads. His response? 'I don't want it, the other kids would make fun of me.' Same goes for Avengers shirts as well. Hearing about that broke my heart. A kid who loves superheroes is afraid to show it because of some kids whose parents bought them Tapout shirts would make fun of him. Where it's the norm for us to show it, and is more culturally relevant for our generation, younger generations think it's not cool.Well, I'm glad to write that the call was heeded. Nearly all, if not every, artist asked contributed something to the care package for this discouraged kid in the hopes of giving him back his heroes. And I was gladdened even more so when I read the response written by the boy's mother, yesterday.
So I'm basically asking if anyone would like to contribute something, anything, to this kid to let him know that this kind of stuff is cool and make him feel that much more special."
"My son Liam has always been a fan of comic superheroes much like most little boys. At the beginning of the school year we were out shopping for supplies. I was confused why every folder I pointed out with all the latest blockbuster heroes pictured, Liam dismissed stating he only wanted 'plain' folders. He became increasingly upset with every attempt I made to persuade him to choose things with what I knew were his favorite characters.
Finally, when I asked why the change, he broke down and told me the kids at school make fun of him for liking Batman and other comic heroes. I was devastated that my son would have to feel ostracized for liking the same things that I'm certain these other children like as well. In fact, I myself love comic book superheroes and I know of MANY grown men who were absolutely giddy over 'The Avengers' & 'Dark Knight Rises' films being released this summer.
Here's the picture that she alludes to in her thanks to the artists, showing a much happier, and hopefully more confident, Liam.
I shared this story with my friend Jason Westlake, who I know is passionate about comic heroes as well. He was just as heartbroken as I was that Liam felt he couldn't enjoy his heroes. The other day a package came for Liam filled with artwork of his favorite comic icons. He was so amazed and happy with each print he looked at. The pictures in this album show his gratitude for those that showed him you never have to outgrow your heroes and that it's okay to be yourself. THANK YOU!"
You can see my contribution to the care package, an 11x17" "sketch cards in LARGE" series print of 'Batman: Crimson Mist', just to the right of Liam. Next to that is one made by my good friends and mentors, Adam Withers and Comfort Love, along with several prints above his head by Jason himself. I also happen to recognize a pair of black-and-white Hulk and Batman prints by Tyler and Sara Sowles. The rest are unfamiliar to me, but nevertheless I'm glad to see others interspersed among those that are.
So, to make a short story long, seeing this picture alone and knowing what it meant to him made attending Detroit Fanfare worthwhile, regardless how the show itself went. Which isn't to say that it wasn't a good convention that pre-Halloween weekend. On the contrary, I have plenty of good things to write about in regards to Fanfare. However, I will elaborate on that more in a later post. Until then, keep on loving your heroes, Liam! Even at twenty-seven, I still am.