Immediately after the mass-shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the comic book industry came together to raise money for victims. One year later, their work raised over $200,000 — and growing.
“The morning after it happened, I felt horrible about what I saw. So I just posted on Facebook that as the comics community we should do something, we should do a fundraiser and I’ll organize it,” said Marc Andreyko, “Love is Love” comic anthology creator. “It was sort of a reflexive reaction. So many people said they wanted to be in it. The Tuesday after it happened, we had DC comics and IDW on board. Six months later we have New York Time’s best-selling book and we raised a ton of money.”
Andreyko joined together with some of the biggest names in comics, like writer/illustrator George Perez and comic artist Cat Staggs, to contribute to the 144-page “Love is Love” anthology in December of last year. It was created as a joint effort between DC Comics and IDW Publishing — known for publishing big-name titles including Star Trek and Doctor Who. Writers, artists and creators from around the globe created the comic book to celebrate love and honor the victims, survivors and their families.
All proceeds from the anthology go to Equality Florida, an organization that focuses on bringing equality and justice to Florida’s LGBT community.
“The book has taken a life of its own and every penny generated will go towards different LGBT charities over the years,” he said.
According to Andreyko, a new charity will be designated every year following the fifth printing of the book. The next will be The Trevor Project, “a hotline for LGBT adolescents who may not have an outlet to help them,” as he explained.
Since the comic’s launch last year, survivors and victims’ families have approached Andreyko to thank him for his contributions.
“It’s kind of overwhelming to hear from parents who have lost children or from people who have lost siblings. Having them thank me feels … I don't know how to respond because of the losses they have suffered. I did this as an instinctive reaction. To be able to have given people who suffered horrifying awful losses any sort of modicum of piece of peace, even if it’s momentary from this book, is a real privilege.”
For those dealing with the tragedy one year later, Andreyko offered some advice.
“This first anniversary is going to be the toughest for a lot of the people who were affected by it,” he said. “When you come to the first anniversary you realize over the past year there were a couple of days that you didn’t think about the horror and then you feel guilty. There were days that you didn’t think about it and that becomes really hard to deal with because you feel like you might be starting to forget about the person you lost and that's a natural reaction.”
He hopes that people dealing with the tragedy will realize that they are allowed to have days of peace.
“Living your life, having a life and contributing positively is the best way to honor your loved one. None of us would want anyone we love to feel horrible pain for the rest of their lives. We don’t want to be remembered that way … You honor them more by celebrating life than being paralyzed by your grief.”
As for the future of the book, Andreyko has plans to expand globally for its fifth anniversary.
“We have some foreign publishers who are interested in doing editions of the book with additional pages from their local artists for money towards LGBT charities in those countries,” he said. “We’re planning for the fifth anniversary on doing a special edition with every single piece in one collection for the first time.”
The anthology is sold on IDW’s website at IDWPublishing.com/product/loveislove. The digital version contains 20 bonus pages that were not included in the original printing. The book is also available on Amazon and at comic book stores around the country.