The PopCulteer
September 18, 2020

We have three items of interest for you in this PopCulteer, so let’s jump right in.

Give Comics Hope

The Coronavirus Pandemic has hit this country like a ton of bricks. Millions of people are still out of work and several industries have been crushed by the forced shutdowns, absence of disposable income and the common sense of many of their customers, a large chunk of whom are still too intelligent to venture out into our COVID-filled air.

Comic Book Shops, which were already on the endangered list, have been hit particularly hard. Since their customers are more intelligent and can read, they’re less likely to rush out to stores during a pandemic. A new charity initiative is under way to raise funds to help these beleagured small businesses survive the coming lean times.

Give Comics Hope is an ambitious charitable initiative that calls on all members of the comics community to rally together to provide vital aid to these small businesses. By uniting together and giving back, they hope to pay it forward to those who nurture a love of comic books for ourselves and for future fans to come.

Give Comics Hope’s initial charitable efforts will be focused on two auctions designed to raise an initial slate of funds to be distributed to comic book stores in early 2021. Publishers, creators, retailers, fans, convention organizations, printers, media, are being asked to give back to comic book shops by donating premium collectibles from their personal collections to two upcoming charitable auctions.

The first auction will be conducted by Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer, for all received donations with an estimated value of $500 or more to take place between Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 and Wednesday, November 11th, 2020. The initial auction will include donations from industry insiders including cover art from The Walking Dead donated series creator Robert Kirkman, paintings by Bill Sienkiewicz, Star Wars original art by P. Craig Russell, original art from New Mutants #88 by Rob Liefeld, original art from X-Factor #55 and Amazing Spider-Man #326 signed by Colleen Doran, Excalibur #125 original art signed by Dave Hoover, and many, many more. Public donations for the first auction are due by Friday, October 2nd, 2020.

As we go to press, more high-profile comics creators, collectors and professionals are digging into their closets to find rare items to donate. Names such as Paul Levitz, Richard and Wendy Pini, Brian Pulido, Michael Uslan, Howard Chaykin, Peter David and more have already joined the cause.

“Heritage Auctions has long been proud and honored to be the premier auction house for comic books, comic art, and related collectibles,” said Barry Sandoval, Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “When Bill approached us with the opportunity to give back to the comic shops that spark the lifelong love of this medium in countless fans and collectors, we leapt at the chance.”

The second auction will be conducted by Jesse James Comics/Comic Book Shopping Network in partnership with eBay. All public donations with an estimated value of $499 or less will be offered through public auctions and “Buy It Now” opportunities on eBay between Wednesday, November 11, 2020 and Friday, December 11, 2020. Public donations for the second auction are due by Wednesday, November 4, 2020.

“It’s been my privilege to provide great comic book experiences and the best in comic book therapy for almost 40 years,” said Jesse James, owner of Jesse James Comics and President of Comic Book Shopping Network. “Our industry is stronger when customers have many options to find the comic book community that is right for them. It’s my pleasure to help my retail brethren by leveraging our brand’s strength on eBay and the power of CBSN to raise money for Give Comics Hope.”

Give Comics Hope has partnered with the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to assisting comic retailers and booksellers, to oversee the management and disbursement of the funds raised by Give Comics Hope. The initiative will take no organizational fees, and will only deduct any actual, direct costs incurred from the funds raised. Since its inception, Binc has provided over $9 million in financial assistance and scholarships to more than 9000+ families. Support for the Foundation’s programs and services comes from all sectors of the book and comic industries. The Foundation was imagined and built by booksellers and proudly continues to be their safety net. In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the book and comic industries came together in an extraordinary way allowing Binc to help 2,191 booksellers, comic retailers, and stores with $2.7 million in urgently needed assistance.

“We are honored to work with Bill and his team of passionate volunteers to further help comic book stores during this unprecedented time. We know the funds raised from this visionary initiative will help neighborhood comic shops continue to serve their customers and their communities,” said Pam French, Binc Foundation’s executive director. “Together, we are working to help comic retailers through the many challenges they are faced with, so they can continue doing the work they love – selling comics.”

You can find all the details for how to donate and how to bid at the Give Comics Hope website. You can also help out by buying shirts and facemasks and other stuff from their store. Proceeds from the sale of each and every item will go directly to the fund.

Mountain State Spotlight

Mountain State Spotlight, the much-anticipated non-profit investigative news organization launched yesterday, and now, more than ever, we really need these guys on the job.

Mountain State Spotlight is an independent, civic news organization that tells stories of importance to West Virginians about the issues and challenges facing their communities. Founded by former Gazette-Mail Executive Editor Greg Moore and former star reporter for the same paper, Ken Ward Jr., Mountain State Spotlight will fill the void left behind when The Gazette-Mail had to slash their budget a few months ago.

Running an independent, for-profit newspaper is getting increasingly difficult in these times. It costs a lot of money to sustain outrage, and the world of advertising seems to be moving out of the orbit of the world of print media.

But the work these folks do is too important for it to be lost down the drain with the rest of the things the free market doesn’t consider profitable. It’s a relief that Moore and Ward, and colleagues like Pulitzer Prize-winner Eric Eyre, are doing their best to find a new economic model that will allow them to stay in the area and keep West Virginians informed. The plan is to function as an independent 501(c)(3) group and they have ambitious plans to grow the staff, build philanthropic support, and serve West Virginians.

Even though I’ve just been a freelancer and then a blogger for The Gazette-Mail, whenever I saw my name in print with these people, I got a sense of pride that I was somehow, remotely and peripherally, associated with them, even though my reporting on animation, local music or cool toys isn’t quite Pulitzer material.

They’ve already hit the ground running with stories on Frontier’s shoddy Broadband service, broken promises and corruption on the part of our Billionaire Governor, Jim Justice, and major concerns with the state’s foster program and the future of our postal service. Check ’em out and if you find them as important as I do, throw a few bucks their way.

Sydney Goes Back To 1982

Over on PopCult’s sister internet radio station, Sydney Fileen will spend the afternoon time-traveling on a brand-new Sydney’s Big Electric Cat Friday afternoon on The AIR.  You can hear this show and more Friday on The AIR website, or just click on this embedded radio player…

Friday afternoon at 3 PM, with generous replay options throughout the next week, you can travel back to 1982, a very significant year in the New Wave Era. As Sydney says in her intro, “This week, instead of spanning the entire New Wave era, we are going to zero in on one year that many people consider to be the peak of New Wave Music. In this week’s show, we will hear songs that debuted as either singles or album cuts in the year of our lord, 1982.”

Sydney tells us that this will likely become a recurring theme on her show, as she shines her spotlight on individual years.

Check out this playlist:

BEC 062

Adam Ant “Goody Two Shoes”
Pretenders “Back On The Chain Gang”
The Beat “Save It For Later”
Squeeze “Black Coffee In Bed”
ABC “The Look Of Love”
Siouxsie and the Banshees “Slowdrive”
Split Enz “Six Months In A Leaky Boat”
XTC “Senses Working Overtime”
Ultravox “Hymn”
Toyah “The Pack”
The Cure “Let’s Go To Bed”
Depeche Mode “Leave In Silence”
Thomas Dolby “Europe and The Pirate Twins”
Wall of Voodoo “Mexican Radio”
Druan Duran “Rio”
Kate Bush “Leave It Open”
DEVO “Time Out For Fun”
The Stranglers “Midnight Summer Dream”
Madness “Blue Skinned Beast”
Moon Martin “Signal For Help”
Laurie Anderson “It Tango”
Elvis Costello and The Attractions “Beyond Belief”
Simple MInds “Glittering Prize”
Romeo Void “Never Say Never”
Eurythmics “Love Is A Stranger”
Joe Jackson “Steppin’ Out”
Men Without Hats “Safety Dance”
The Clash “Should I Stay or Should I Go”

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM and Thursday at Noon, exclusively on The AIR. You can also hear select episodes of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat as part of the overnight Haversham Recording Institute marathon that starts every Monday at 11 PM.

And that is it for this week’s PopCulteer. As always, check back for fresh content every day, including all our regular features.