Need something uplifting? Well, if you happen to be near the New Jersey area on the weekend of October 3-4, 2015, then you should drop by Comic Fusion in Flemington, NJ for their annual Superhero Weekend. Formerly known as “Wonder Woman Day,” Superhero Weekend auctions off comic book themed sketches to raise money and awareness for charity. This year’s charity is CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren Counties (CASA SHaW). CASA is a national organization that provides court appointed advocates for children living in foster care.
This year’s list of artists include Tom Schloendorn, Ken Haeser (Flash Gordon, The Living Corpse, Vampirella), Eric Grissom (Deadhorse, Planet Gigantic), and Phil Sloan (Deadhorse, Planet Gigantic) with more to come. And, even if you aren’t nearby, you can still make bids via email. However, those who can be there physically can participate in raffles and door prizes and pose with cosplay greats like the 501st Northeast Remnant Star Wars Costumers.
To learn more about the event, I sat down (virtually) with one of the coordinators for Superhero Weekend, Amber Love, to talk about the event and why comic creators and fans make for great supporters of charity events.
First off, basics, why don’t you tell me a little bit about Superhero Weekend 2015?
Superhero Weekend is a two-day event at Comic Fusion held the first weekend of October. This year, our comic art auction and raffle drawings will benefit court appointed advocates for foster families. A few important things are different this year. The online bidding for the comic art auction has a rather short window, Sept 30 – Oct 2. This is a first for us to end online bid proxies the night before the in-store event. If you want to bid on a piece you see in the gallery, you would simply email the store with your max bid and a proxy will take care of placing bids in increments. The in-store bidding on the auction items ends Oct 3rd. And then Oct 4th will be for the raffle drawings.
Each year we get about 25 cosplayers on Saturday and then about 15 or so on Sunday. We have some groups that support us each year like the 501st. We always been fortunate to have a few photographers volunteer their time as well because, of course, if you’re doing something fun like this, you want great pictures.
This year’s featured guest list includes comic creators Nick Justus, Ken Haeser and Buz Hasson, Eric Grissom and Phil Sloan, and Tom Schloendorn; plus Saturday around 1:00 nerdy folk singer Sarah Donner will perform.
How did this tradition get started?
In 2007, Comic Fusion partnered up with Andy Mangels from Portland, Oregon to co-host Wonder Woman Day. Between the East and West coasts, we had a great tradition of raising money for domestic violence organizations by auctioning mostly Wonder Woman art. At Comic Fusion, we grew and evolved the fundraiser over the years to include more than Wonder Woman and rebranded as Superhero Weekend. This year is the first time our efforts will benefit CASA-SHaW.
We’ve also grown in volunteers. It used to be only the Comic Fusion owners Bill Meccia and Stacy Korn and myself. Now we have an actual Guild of Good of around a dozen volunteers that help us set up the shop, recruit cosplayers or pick up donated art and swag from conventions. During these years, we even moved into a much bigger shop, but we’re still in historic Flemington, New Jersey.
What charities have you worked with in the past?
Until this year, all of the Comic Fusion proceeds had gone to SAFE in Hunterdon, our local domestic abuse shelter which provides emergency services, transitional housing, and legal aid. We’ve raised around $50,000 for them from 2007-2014. We had done so much for SAFE in Hunterdon, that for a few years, we had been debating whether to share our efforts with another charity. This year, when we met Tracey Wilson Heisler from CASA-SHaW, she impressed the shop owners with her enthusiasm, the nature of the organization, and the fact that she also loves geeky things like going to comic cons.
Comics and charity seem like an obviously great mix, but do you think there is something particular about doing charity support with comics creators, fans, and the like?
My belief is that the comic book industry, particular the roots of superheroes or other types of “save the day” protagonists, succeeded because of the theme of helping others and saving lives. Violence in today’s titles tends to be incredible parables that reflect upon on humanity rather than just for the sake of showing gore (not all, but most). Whether you’re talking about mainstream icons like Wonder Woman or new all ages indies like Hero Cats, there’s a lot of morality in the pages of comics. As a writer and a fan, I can’t imagine creating heroes and not wanting to be one.
You mentioned how you have grown, do you think this is a sign of the increasing attention that comics are getting or something else?
I don’t think our growth has to do with blockbuster movies or anything like that. I think it’s because we’ve made some great connections and friends who have large followings on social media. Whenever someone like Jill Pantozzi tweets about us, our Twitter feed immediately gets RTs and new followers. Some years it’s a matter of getting extremely fortunate with donated art from people like Adam Hughes and cosplayer Riddle. It’s not the sort of thing that we can expect to happen every year, but when it does, it makes an enormous difference.
Hurry, online bidding ends at midnight, October 2 and in-store bidding ends 5PM, October 3!
Also, be sure to check out the promo video for this year’s Superhero Weekend:
Update: Amber Love recently informed me that Ken Haeser had to drop out, but Nick Justus will be taking his place.