The world is about to get giddy over yet another Marvel movie as fans everywhere pace, feverishly waiting for the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film to be released on August 1.
The reviews that are beginning to proliferate are overwhelmingly positive with an early 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes!
Most of the early reviews claim that the breakout stars of the film are Groot and Rocket Raccoon which is awesome because they are credited to two creators with significant ties to the comic industry’s great charity, The Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative supports comic creators that are facing difficult times, especially those in the twilight of their lives. Please take the time to learn more about the mission of this organization here.
Nothing needs to be said about the tremendous creative contributions that the legendary Jack Kirby has made to the medium of comics. Many know that Kirby is responsible for at least co-creating most of the major characters in the Marvel Universe and that there has been an ongoing battle between his heirs and Marvel regarding compensation and copyright revision that is currently being considered to be heard by none other than the Supreme Court of the United States.
Your average movie goer may be surprised to learn that Kirby had his hand in the creation of Groot as well. Groot, who first appeared in TALES TO ASTONISH #13, published in November 1960 even predates all of the popular Silver Age Marvel characters!
Jump ahead 54 years and know that Jack Kirby, who passed away twenty years ago, would be celebrating his 97th birthday this month on August 28 and to honor his legacy, his granddaughter, Jillian Kirby, is out beating the drums for the third consecutive year, promoting her Kirby4Heroes campaign. Jillian, in true Kirby heroic fashion, celebrates her grandfather’s birthday by cooperating with retailers and comic artists across the country to raise money for The Hero Initiative. Last year she raised over $10,000 and is shooting for $15,000 this year.
If you discover that you love Groot as much as everyone expects, please take your time to tip your hat to one of his creators by supporting the Kirby4Heroes campaign this month. Information on how you can participate can be found at www.kirby4heroes.com
As for Rocket Raccoon, his co-creator, Bill Mantlo, could be a poster child for The Hero Initiative’s wonderful work. Bill was the victim of a tragic accident that has left him severely brain damaged since 1992. According to Bill’s brother, Mike Mantlo, The Hero Initiative that was the first organization to step forward and help on behalf of the comics industry when Bill needed it the most. Mike says he will always be indebted to them for their kindness.
Bill remains in a long term healthcare facility but his brother continues to keep him connected with his fans by sharing information about him regularly on a Bill Mantlo facebook group page. Happily, Bill is well aware of the excitement that is being generated Rocket Raccoon and is proud that his work is being recognized!
Guardians of the Galaxy is sure to be a blockbuster this year but it has a great opportunity to shine a high profile light on the real people that are responsible for the fantasies we enjoy in the comics and now on the big screen. Many of these creators are no longer with us but their genius continues to influence our popular culture in a huge way.
So when you are stuffing your face with popcorn and reveling in the exploits of Groot and Rocket Raccoon, stare deeply into their beady little CGI eyes and remember that they are more than just Guardians of the Galaxy. They, and every other character on that screen, are results of the labor of comic creators who are real people with real, lives, families, hopes dreams and, unfortunately, tragedies and ill fortune.
Contributing to The Hero Initiative on their behalf is a great way to thank them indirectly for the joy that their imaginations continue to inspire and to help those creators that may need a supportive hand from all of us.
Making Comics Because We Want to,