While some of you are still licking self-inflicted wounds over the death of Hunter S. Thompson, one of our own?William Messner-Loebs?is still quite alive, thank you, though sometimes he asks himself how that’s still possible. No money. No work. A very sick wife. No medical insurance.

If not for the graciousness of the Salvation Army, Bill wouldn’t even have a cot to sleep on tonight. Imagine that as you pull the comforter up to your chin and curl up with a good funny book.

As Bill struggles with his physical conundrum, I’m wrestling with a metaphysical one. I’m wondering how anyone in our industry can walk by this situation and not pay it heed. The petitions from fans are nice, the messages on the forums are encouraging, but there’s too much rubber necking and not enough action; too many cameras and not enough food. And the blame game just ain’t gonna work this time.

This is not the Siegel and Schuster story again. Can’t blame DC. No one is making a mint off of Messner-Loebs’ Wolverine McAlister, strange visitor from another publisher.

This isn’t Dave Cockrum’s situation. Messner-Loebs didn’t design a pantheon of mutants only to find them being played by Halle Barre and Hugh Jackman. It’s unfair to drop this burden on Marvel and Joe Quesada and demand a series for Messner-Loebs. That’s not how business is done.

No, my little droogs, we have met the enemy and it is us. There’s no big company to blame, no corporate megalith who owes this talented but sadly unemployed writer/artist anything. And neither do we. But we owe it to ourselves.

My father, who is in heaven now, never walked by a needy person without stopping. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad handing me money to put in someone’s cup. I was a little boy, fearful of approaching the disheveled fellow, but my father smiled at me and urged me forward. When I gave the man money, he smiled at me, too. That smile was worth a lot more than my father paid for it.

I spoke with Bill’s wife Nadine this morning. She was coughing so much, I could barely make out what she was saying. Her doctor has advised her that a stroke is not far off if she doesn’t start getting more oxygen. It’s late February in Michigan and her lips are blue.

There’s a lot of ways you can help Bill Messner-Loebs. Here’s a few:

Buy one less comic this month and send Bill $3.50 instead. Chances are that comic you skip won’t be as good as most of the stuff Bill wrote. Bill’s PayPal account is bloebs@yahoo.com

Buy The Three Tenors: Off Key, a new project that Aardwolf Publishing initiated to help Bill. The book has three different versions:

  1. The TPB ($9.95 and worth it)
  2. The signed/numbered version ($14.95, limited to 400 copies, signed by Bill, Dave Cockrum and your humble columnist)
  3. The just-announced deluxe Double-Lettered Remarqued Edition (signed by the above trio with a unique sketch by Messner-Loebs on the bookplate ? only 52 will be produced).

Other contributors to the project are Dave Sim (introduction), Tom Spurgeon (Afterword), Al Milgrom ,and Steve Lieber (who will be doing spot illos), Visit http://www.aardwolfpublishing.com/Comics-and-books/3tenors.htm to order.

The best help isn’t charity?it’s keeping Bill working by supporting projects he’s on. Thanks to your petition, a number of other publishers are working with Bill now, too. Keep your eyes peeled for:

  • On Spec, Canada’s premiere SF magazine, which will soon feature a Messner-Loebs cover.
  • Sinnamon Girl from Catfish Comics
  • Myriad, an anthology comic from Approbation Comics.

A laundromat near the shelter in Michigan where Bill sleeps is paying him to do a mural for their wall. They’re aware that he can’t continue to stay in the shelter without some money coming in.

Now that you have the information there’s no excuses. Help this sweet guy and his wife get back on their feet. I’m assuming most of you had fathers, too. And mothers. Let’s see how well they raised you.

Clifford Meth
One Small Voice

© 2004, Clifford Meth

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