Welcome back to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question comes from Clifford Meth and is as follows:-

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

Bart Thompson:

This question is really deep and will be tricky to answer. It’s very personal, metaphysical, reflective, thought provoking, etc. I’m a writer, but it’s really tough to put things like this into words.

Concerning Mr. Bill Messner-Loebs, what can I say that Cliff hasn’t already said better in his column? I heard about the situation a lot earlier than most and it caught me at a busy time, but I made sure to try and keep up with any updates I could find every few hours or so that weekend. This really hit home with me personally because the Maxx was one of the first comics I read that led to me being in the industry in the first place (yeah, I was a latecomer- a product of the early 90s boom). From my Maxx addiction I sought out Epicurus the Sage and Journey, and they were just as great. In a way it could be said that I owe my career to the influence of Mr. Loebs, (along with Sam Keith, Frank Miller, Dave Sim, Chris Claremont, Chuck Dixon, Tom Lyle, Norm Breyfogle, and Alan Grant just to name a few whose works first got me addicted to comics).

On a larger scale we in the comics industry, no matter what level we’re at- writer, artist, retailer, fan, editor, letterer, colorist, daydreamer, whatever- we’re all family. From all walks of life, religion, race, color, creed, so on we’re bound together by our love and appreciation of this art form called comics. We’re like a body- if one of us has a problem, it’s the whole body’s problem. Sure if we get a stubbed toe the hands could say that it isn’t their problem. The foot is so far from the hand… let the knee handle it because they’re closer. The knee is closer, but it doesn’t have the fingers and thumb to apply first aid to the wound and soon the light injury becomes major with infection and on its deathbed the hand realizes too late how the foot affected it after all.

To me this isn’t just about Mr. Loebs… it’s about all of us chipping in to help each other out. I’m talking about ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots)… I’m talking about the CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)… the ICAA (International Comic Arts Association)… so on and on. Mr. Loebs needs us now, but what about our comic godfathers we missed? What about the possible comic creators to come?

We’re aware and we need to do something about it. It’s not just about money, it’s about attention and time also. If you can give all, great. If you can only give one, do that. Help comes in so many levels and different degrees, but just doing your part once won’t cut it. It has to be an ongoing thing if we’re going to survive. There’s no retirement plan for comic folks.

Past, present, future. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Bart Thompson is the founder of Approbation Comics and creator of Vampires Unlimited, the Metamutoids, ChiSai, and Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies. Lethal Instinct from Alias Enterprises in April Myriad from Approbation in May!

Vince Moore:

Wow, that’s a tough one. I have to tackle this one in chunks.

If I’m not for myself, I would hope my friends would be for me. A strong support system can act as cheerleaders even when you can’t cheer yourself on.

If I am only for myself, I would hope to be someone who acts out of rational self interest. With the understanding that even when I help others, I’m helping myself.

If not now, then never. No matter what point in life one finds himself or herself, if there’s a task that one feels needs doing, then be the one to do it. If there are no books that you would like to read, then create the book you would like to read. Because no one else will.

Vince Moore is the editor for DarkStorm Studios, a comics company started by Kevin Grevioux of Underworld fame.

Clifford Meth:

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

It’s a rhetorical question, of course, first posed by Hillel the Elder nearly 2100 years ago (see Pirke Avos or “Ethics of Our Fathers”). The question contains the answer: If we are unwilling to stand up for ourselves–to have the courage of our convictions–then it’s absurd to expect others to take us, our issues, or our plights seriously. And if we are *only* for ourselves, then we’re not very good citizens. And putting off necessary things until tomorrow is the malignant battle plan of the indifferent.

The comics world is a special community of largely creative, intelligent, thinking individuals. But anyone can be an individual–it takes a special person to be part of a team. And our collective survival instincts are often questionable at best.

Here’s hoping that more of you will stand up and be counted the next time one of our comrades falls on hard times. I don’t have to tell you to watch out for your family because most of us know that already. But when a comics industry elder is down on his luck, it behoves us as a community to give a rat’s ass.

Dedicated to Neal Adams for setting the example.

Former L.A. Times syndicated journalist, Clifford Meth is V.P. of Creative Development for IDT Entertainment. He is currently working on concurrent projects with Peter David, Dave Cockrum, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, and Harlan Ellison. Visit Cliff at http://www.cliffordmeth.com

Stephen Holland:

Okay, I think I’ve finally begun to understand the question. No promises, mind.

Backbones are good.

Without a backbone your head with flop down to your knees, you’re going to fall over, and be trodden into the pavement. Also, in that position it’s going to be difficult for someone to support you without giving themselves a hernia. Nor will you be much use in supporting anyone else, which is a shame, because that’s part of the deal for decent human beings.

“When” is definitely “now”, because the pavement is a cold and ugly place, with chewing gum everywhere.

Please put your chewing gum in the bin. It’s really grim for those with no backbone.

Is that right?

Stephen Holland runs Page 45, a comic shop in Nottingham with Mark Simpson and Tom Rosin. He can also be found, monthly, in Comics International. Unfathomable, isn’t it?

Donna Barr:

The answer to the first one, though controversial with some is as it has always been: “If God is for us then who can stand against us?” So the answer is Jesus.

If I am only for myself then I am typical as a selfish human being; I am also wrong to be so.

And as for “when”: When the time is appointed!

NOW, are we going to have any Comics type questions?

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once…including writing a column for SBC at this link!

Jesse Leon McCann:

I’m sorry, I never answer questions from people named after a dangerous drug.

Jesse Leon McCann is a New York Times Best-selling Author. He’s currently editing the fourth Simpsons TV Episode Guide for Bongo Comics/Harper Perennial, and writing stories for DC Comics’ Looney Tunes and Cartoon Cartoons.

Thanks to all the panellists who took part this week and thanks to Clifford for his question. Check out Clifford’s column here at SBC, “Past Masters”. http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/masters/

Next week’s question is “if you could develop any comic into Film, TV, Computer Game or even a Radio broadcast, what would it be and why?”

If you have a question for The Panel please email at the address above!

The views and opinions expressed on the panel are solely those of the panellist who has written them. They do not reflect the views or opinions of silver bullet comic books or myself. Freedom of speech is great isn’t it – James

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