Picture: It was the 1980s and I was collecting comics, watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and basically living a typical juvenile geek’s life, thinking I was cool wearing a sweater that had more colour schemes than a Benetton fashion designer on acid could imagine. I was on the debating team and convinced myself that the high school trivia challenge team was cool. But back when I was a self-absorbed, clueless teenager and my mum was eking a wage by nursing at a seniors’ facility in the wee hours of the morning, I learned an important lesson about love.
I knew nothing. I didn’t know about the early morning hours of working on her feet, struggling with the initial stages of emphysema, or how she had to nurse aged patients by herself.
Well, not totally. There was a young nurse by the name of Jerry. Jerry took to my mum. His own mum disowned him when she found out he was gay. He took to my mum because she was a naturally caring figure who judged people by their actions and their merits. He saw that in her and he wound up taking her shifts for her. He would answer calls, lift the heavy patients, give them their meds and let my mum rest late at night.
I was sixteen. I knew nothing – well, I did know comics. One day, Mum brought Jerry over to the house and he started an awkward conversation about comics with me. I was apprehensive at first because I was a kid and didn’t know many gay people, but he and I managed to talk George Perez, Marv Wolfman and John Byrne. He also liked Bill Willingham’s Elementals and then we had a conversation going. Jerry was all right.
Thinking back to those days, I am humbled by Jerry’s gentle and forgiving nature. What a dumb-ass, simple kid I was back then.
After that meeting, Mum would always ask me before she went out and worked with Jerry, what comics did I read that week? I made sure I wrote a list down so that she’d get the titles right. I thought she didn’t know anything. It seems that Jerry was buying comics based on my suggestions. I felt pretty cool that an adult was validating my opinion.
We kept this up for as long as we lived in that region. Then my family moved away and we never saw Jerry again.
But I never forgot Jerry for his kindness and patience with his friend’s unenlightened kid. That was a lesson on love that I would reflect on in my latter years, especially when we flash forward from the 80s to 2016 when a man walked into a nightclub and shot and killed 49 people because they were like Jerry.
Jerry was gay and liked comics. I liked comics and I liked Jerry. Thinking back, I saw how clever my mum was in using my love of comics to bring two special people in her life together. My mum was a decent person who made me into one too.
The events of the Pulse nightclub in 2016 should offend any decent person. It staggers the conscience of any rational person that someone would seek to harm someone simply for living and loving his or her life.
Now MegaCon, Florida’s most prominent comic convention, has partnered with comics writer, Marc Andreyko – a writer Pop Mythology has been pleased to interview in the past – and his Love is Love anthology project to present an evening that honours the memories of those who lost their lives in this horrendous act of intolerance. It promises to bring together some of the most creative talents of the comic industry to support and raise funds in support of the victims’ families and survivors of the mass shooting.
Love is Love was a collection of comic art co-published last December by DC Comics and IDW Publishing that featured the works of a dizzyingly long, all-star list of comic luminaries such as Mark Millar, Gail Simone, Greg Pak, Jonathan Hickman, Cat Staggs, Mike Oeming, Phil Jimenez and Rafael Albuquerque – just to name a small handful. In total, the project included the work of 300 comic writers and artists. It was a spectacular success and, according to The Washington Post, raised $165,000 as of March 2017. The talents of these artists and writers like will be featured at the convention that runs between May 25 – May 28 at the Orange County Convention Centre.
A special fundraising cocktail reception is also slated for the evening of May 26 which will include a book signing and the attendance of a good number of the comic creators who contributed to Love is Love. They are: George Perez, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Gail Simone, Cat Staggs, Mitch Gerads, Jason Aaron, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and anthology curator Marc Andreyko. (It’s important to note that this will be George Perez’s only appearance at the convention) Tickets are separately available for the event and all proceeds will go towards Equality Florida and will benefit the victims of the shooting. The reception will be from 7:30 to 10 p.m., May 26. Tickets are $150 and available at megaconorlando.com/love-is-love-fundraising-events.
A live auction of original art is also scheduled for May 27 and is available on-line to the general public. For more information, go to megaconorlando.com.
I will be at MegaCon at the end of this month and will make it a point to attend the evening festivities. I’ll be raising a glass to the memories of the victims, but also to my mum and our friend Jerry, both of whom taught me a very important lesson that I hope will someday become apparent to everyone as well.
Love is right; murder is wrong. These are two incontestable facts that should be obvious to any decent-minded individual. If you love comics, then you love. What makes your ability to love any different than the 49 people who lost their lives because of their love? Perhaps your love of comics will bring you to this important event and, if so, perhaps we can celebrate love together?