Comics Creators Come Together For Las Vegas
Art and action to help overcome the helplessness
After the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, which left 58 people dead and 851 injured, many residents of the city felt, understandably, as if their world had been turned upside down. It was as if their city had been invaded, their lives and those of their friends and families pitched into chaos, their neighbors injured or killed. “This is our home, and we have lots of people here we love and care about,” says comic book artist and writer J.H. Williams III. “When this happened, at first there was a feeling of helplessness, but then we started thinking more about it.” Williams posted an idle thought to Twitter about publishing a collection of comic art and writing to benefit survivors of the shooting, then went to bed. “I didn’t even know how you put together a book like this,” he says. “I was trying to understand it for myself. By the time I woke up next morning, I had people reaching out to me saying they wanted to help if they could, and that’s how it initially got started.”
“I refuse to feel helpless about this situation. I refuse to feel like we can’t do something.”
That idle Tweet has since become an anthology from Image Comics called Where We Live, with Williams as Curating Editor, which will be published May 30, and is already available for preorder on Amazon and elsewhere. 100% of the proceeds from the book will be donated to Route 91 Strong, a nonprofit that helps survivors of gun violence.
“I refuse to feel helpless about this situation,” says Wendy Wright-Williams, Williams’s wife and occasional collaborator “I refuse to feel like we can’t do something. And why wouldn’t we do it? We know so many people in the industry, and we felt like this was something we could do besides just give a check or donate blood, which is great, but there was something that we could uniquely do to both bring money to the people that are going to have so much need, and as well bring awareness of what they went through.”
The book includes personal stories from victims, eyewitness accounts, and allegorical work as well, from “as many local creators as we could get our hands on,” Wendy says, “and industry professionals all over the world.” While the majority of the book consists of graphical stories, poetry and essays are included as well. Many local Las Vegas survivors, storytellers, and other creators were paired with comics industry veterans who helped them tell their stories.
“When Wendy and I set out to ‘curate’ the book, it wasn’t like being overly selective and dictating to people what the content should be,” J.H. told Good Turns recently. “It was more about us understanding what each of those people wanted to say and then offering advice and feedback based on that. We tried to keep it as human as possible, with everybody saying what they needed to say. Sure, there’s going to be content that’s disagreeable to some. But everything is being said thoughtfully. It’s not accusatory, it’s just what somebody is feeling about the subject. With our eyewitnesses, you can see the human beings behind the statistics. Maybe because of the way you internalize these stories, by reading and seeing the artwork, you can feel that experience differently than how it might be presented if someone’s interviewed on television.”
Image Comics was nothing but helpful through the process, donating even things like marketing resources. But for the husband-and-wife team, the project was overwhelming. “We weren’t naive in thinking this was going to be an easy project,” Wendy says. “But it’s been our whole life for the last six months.
“It’s very daunting,” J.H. adds. “Regardless of what the book ends up saying, when you culminate all the different voices inside this book, I’ll be happy if we just raise a significant amount of money. That’s ultimately what we care about, being able to get funds for people who are going to need it. Because the long-term need from this incident is huge.”
“That’s one thing I want people to think about as well,” J.H. continues. “When you look at the number of people who have been affected physically, let alone psychologically, that’s a lot of people, and they’re going to need some sort of assistance for a long time, some of them for the rest of their lives. If this book can help in some small way, that’s ultimately what we’re after.”
In addition to the financial impact, and in addition to the heightened awareness of the issues covered in the book, the couple are making another important difference: providing an example of how to do a selfless good turn on behalf of a city in need. We’re honored to be able to salute them here.
Posted May 4, 2018