I don't normally use these column inches to plug books that are currently on sale (I'm much more inclined to send you out on back-issue hunts!), but there are a few books hitting the stands right about now that are worth your time and dollars.
I'm talking about the three (so far) volumes of stories and artwork published as fundraisers with respect to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City. This is what they look like, with covers by New Yorker artist Eric Drooker, Oscar-painter Alex Ross, and Liberty Meadows monkey boy Frank Cho.
Proceeds accruing to the creators, publishers, and distributors are all going to the various support funds for victims and their families, in addition to the donation of time and resources by the printing and production companies, making this a worthy cause.
(One question that I haven't seen addressed is whether the retail outlets are also donating their shares of the proceeds to the charities; I would hope so, but I suspect that this will vary according to retailer. You may wish to ask your local retailer about this, and buy the books where more of your cash will end up in the hands of people who need it.)
DC Comics published the volume with the Superman and Krypto cover, and many of the stories in that volume feature DC characters dealing with repercussions of the attacks, either directly or referentially. One of the best of these is a Superman story, in which he details the extent of the miracles that he accomplishes on a daily basis, but bemoans, for all that, his inability to leave the printed page to do good in the real world. It's a rare breakdown in the wall between character and audience in comics, a medium that for the most part avoids self-reference within the contexts of its stories. It captures excellently that wish that so many of us who have lived and breathed these four-color extravaganzas all of our lives felt: if only Superman, and all of the others, actually existed.
I'm a little surprised, however, that the only mention of DC's 'Fireman Farrell' character was via the name of the young boy in Kurt Busiek's Astro City story, considering that Fireman Farrell -- created by Arnold Drake and Win Mortimer -- launched DC's groundbreaking 'Showcase' series. Still, kudos to Kurt for slipping that in. It's a nice touch.
It took a while to figure out which Hembeck strips to run with this column (sometimes I write a column for specific strips, other times the column comes first). I settled on the 'Superman' movie strips because of an admittedly faint analogy: the DC Comics hero is bound to the comics pages, just as our real-life (sort of) Superman - in the form of actor Christopher Reeves - is sidelined temporarily.
"You'll believe a man can fly," said the original movie tagline.
On September 11th, many of us were wishing that it were so.