(January 23, 2012 – New York, NY) DC Entertainment, home of the world’s greatest super heroes, today unveiled an unprecedented giving campaign to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. This multi-million-dollar commitment over the next two years will be supported across all Warner Bros. Entertainment’s and Time Warner’s businesses and feature DC Entertainment’s iconic Justice League characters, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, issuing the call to action, “We Can Be Heroes.” The announcements were made at a press conference today in New York by Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros.; Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group; and Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment.
We Can Be Heroes will support the efforts of three humanitarian aid organizations working in Africa—Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps—as part of the global effort to fight the current hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. The region is suffering its worst drought and famine in over 60 years, with 13 million in need of critical assistance and 250,000 facing starvation in Somalia alone. Each partner organization was chosen for its track record of effective and expeditious humanitarian aid efforts in Africa.
We Can Be Heroes will be supported via promotional exposure across all of Time Warner’s divisional advertising platforms (Warner Bros., Turner Broadcasting, Time Inc., HBO), generating millions of consumer impressions and creating crucially needed awareness of this crisis worldwide. Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps will equally share a corporate donation of at least $2 million over the next two years comprised of cash donations, employee matching funds and consumer matching funds.
“Warner Bros. has a long history of corporate philanthropy and outreach, and this campaign proudly continues that tradition,” said Meyer. “We are a global company, and this is a global issue. By marshalling our expertise in consumer and fan engagement and creating global awareness, we hope we’re able to inspire others to join us in becoming ‘heroes’ and make a difference in the Horn of Africa.”
The Justice League characters were chosen by DC Entertainment both for their global recognition as well as their demonstration of strength in unity and numbers. The campaign’s graphic identifier features the iconic Justice League characters—Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg—outlined in silhouette against the African continent. Each of these characters is a super hero in his or her own right, but when they band together as the Justice League, they become an unstoppable force for good and right in the universe—a key message of the We Can Be Heroes campaign. While many individuals may feel powerless to effect change on their own, as part of a global campaign such as this, their efforts, combined with those of other donors, can create a world of change.
A key launch element of We Can Be Heroes is the campaign’s website, WeCanBeHeroes.org. Here, consumers can make donations which DC Entertainment will match 100 percent (up to $1 million in donations), purchase specially branded merchandise, with 50 percent of the purchase price going to fight the hunger crisis via We Can Be Heroes, sign up for newsletters and updates, and join the We Can Be Heroes online community. The site will also feature information on each of the partner organizations and updates on current conditions in the Horn of Africa.
“This campaign goes straight to the heart of our core competency, as Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment both have a rich legacy of telling socially relevant, compelling stories with characters embraced by global audiences,” said Robinov. “The fact that we’re able to take what we do and use it to raise awareness—and inspire action—around a cause as important as this is gratifying. With the support of the entire Studio and our Time Warner sister companies, this campaign, like the DC Comics super heroes, will make a great impact on an important issue.”
“The members of the Justice League are an international team of super heroes beloved by a broad range of fans, including men and women, young and old. This makes them the perfect ‘spokescharacters’ for this campaign,” said Nelson. “Their dedication to social justice and commitment to band together to defend the helpless brilliantly supports the ideals of the We Can Be Heroes campaign. The hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa is something we can reverse if we all work together. I’m proud and grateful we’re able to harness the power and standing of the DC Comics brand and iconic characters as well as for the support from both Warner Bros. and Time Warner that has allowed us to pursue this unprecedented initiative."
“This is a tragic situation affecting millions and millions of people. Everyone has the ability to be a part of the solution and efforts such as We Can Be Heroes help bring us closer to that goal,” said Dr. Jill Biden, who visited refugees in Kenya in August and has worked to raise awareness of the crisis. “I commend the efforts of DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. and other organizations who are using their global reach to help raise awareness of the crisis.”
For more information on We Can Be Heroes, visit www.WeCanBeHeroes.org . For more information on the campaign’s partner organizations, visit their websites: www.savethechildren.org (Save the Children); www.rescue.org (International Rescue Committee) and www.mercycorps.org (Mercy Corps).
What if you had to die in order to learn how to live? In short order, that’s the plot to “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens. “BATMAN NOEL,” is a graphic novel that applies that life-changing premise to Batman. At first, as you read this book, you might think that it will only make a reference to the Dickens classic. And then you think that it’s got to be The Joker who plays Scrooge. But this is not being played for laughs exactly. This is serious--spiked with some whimsy. Written and drawn by Lee Bermejo, the co-creator of The New York Times best-selling, “Joker,” this is a tale you just have to read to believe.
The intriguing idea that Bermejo plays with for all its worth is whether or not someone can make a fundamental change. The Dark Knight has become selfish and abusive. Bernejo, who dazzles us with his eye-popping Neo-Gothic drawing style, masterfully writes a Batman who sure looks beyond repair.
Bermejo has fun seeking out the humanity in Batman. We see a Batman that completely fits into a Scrooge mold. Batman is Scrooge! And, for the purposes of this story, Bob Cratchit has been reduced to a small time hood working undercover for Batman/Scrooge, with being constantly terrorized by his boss as part of his job description. This Scrooge runs Cratchit ragged and has no qualms about putting Tiny Tim in the line of fire! Be that as it may, we all know that there was something about Scrooge that made him worthy of redemption.
It’s fascinating to see how Bermejo has custom-made “A Christmas Carol” for Batman. It’s done with confidence. He consistently drives home the fact that this is Batman’s life. The narrator is a street smart guy off the street reciting the urban myth his dad told him as a kid. It’s the tale of a caped crusader, ole Scroogey, who has lost his way. There had been a time, not too different from the madcap “Batman” of the ‘60s, when life was full of hope. But his partner, Robin, like Jacob Marley, is no longer around to keep his spirits up. Now, The Dark Knight is bitter and he’s become reckless with his humanity, or lack of humanity.
One by one, the spirits arrive to warn Batman that he’s on the wrong track. There’s Catwoman to remind Batman of what a beast he has become. Then there’s Superman going through an intervention with Batman that is a classic battle between light and dark while also being funny like the old Batman vs. Superman throw downs over the years, like in the pages of “World’s Finest.” And, last but not least, is the scariest of all spirits, The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, which you’ll have to see for yourself. This is such a visual delight and a story woven to fit Batman like a glove. We know there’s a human somewhere lurking deep inside Batman. “Batman Noel,” will make you believe that even a black leather clad vigilante can have a heart.
I hope you enjoyed the review and will pick up “Batman Noel.” And feel free to visit me at Comics Grinder and see what else I’m up to.
Archie meets Lady Gaga? Well, no, not yet but, as we learn in this interview, anything is possible in the Archie universe. Archie’s Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing, Alex Segura and Archie veteran artist and writer Dan Parent are the creative team behind the team up of the Archie gang and the legendary rock band, KISS, a four-part story arc that begins in Archie #627 which comes out this November 30. In these exclusive GeekWeek back to back interviews, we let both Alex and Dan talk about this unique project. We start with Alex Segura and get a sense of how he ended up writing this landmark Archie story.
GEEKWEEK: There's a lot of people talking about the upcoming "Archie Meets KISS" story arc. And here you are its writer. Can we start with you sharing with us something about the process of writing for comics.
ALEX SEGURA: Sure. Good question. I’ve worked with some great editors – Mike Marts and Janelle Asselin over at DC on my DCU HALLWEEN SPECIAL 2010 story and Mike Pellerito here at Archie. They each taught me a lot, and atop the list was a basic rule that a lot of people tend to forget when it comes to comics: Show, don’t tell. Comics is a visual medium. Rely on your artist and let the pictures do a lot of the talking. No one wants to read a 10 paragraph word ballioon. I’m still learning.
My process is pretty standard – I plot out the issue roughly, then break it down by page, making sure something important or notable happens on each page. Then I dialogue the page to get a sense of the rhythm for the story and then break that down into panels. I then re-read, edit and tweak accordingly. Then I get to see Dan Parent draw it! Dream jobs DO exist.
GW: Your first work with Archie was an Archie and Friends story. Can you tell us what that was like? And how did that compare with what you did over at DC Comics?
AS: The ARCHIE AND FRIENDS story -- #156, for those keeping score – was a lot of fun, and really came from an idea Mike Pellerito had. He wanted to see the gang go to a comic book convention in costume. I took that, put together a plot synopsis and we batted it around. It was a pleasure to write and I learned a ton about the craft. I grew up reading Archie, so having the chance to write a story involving some of my favorite comic characters was surreal and amazing. I have original art from that story framed and in my office.
My DC story was a little different. It was a 10-pager, as opposed to a complete issue, and part of an anthology of Halloween stories DC puts out annually. But it came about in a similar way. I mentioned the idea to Mike Marts while we were talking about something else (probably me asking about preview pages of some sort for a Batman title) and then the idea went up the flagpole. Once everyone signed off, I got to scripting it. Mike’s feedback was invaluable and he really helped a novice get to the basics of telling a story. I’d written stuff before, but the DC story was my first full script, and I learned a ton.
GW: How did you approach the Archie Meets KISS story?
AS: Before I put anything down, I had to answer the big question: HOW do you bring KISS into Riverdale and not make it seem forced or strange? I did some research and re-read some of my KISS back issues and realized we needed to level the playing field a bit. In order to bring in these supernatural-ish characters to Riverdale, you needed another character to bridge the gap, for lack of a better term. I think Mike (Pellerito) suggested Sabrina, and once I had that, everything kind of fell into place. I’m really going for the same “Archie Adventure” feel those stories from the 70s and early 80s had – a nice mix of action, adventure and comedy with some level of family friendly peril thrown in.
GW: The choice of KISS is interesting. Do you treat it at all ironically? Or is it more just a fun vibe?
AS: It’s really all in good fun. The KISS guys show up because a threat appears that they have to handle. The Archies eventually join forces with them. It’s very much in the classic vein of off kilter comic team-ups. There are a few knowing Easter eggs thrown in for fans, but it’s all pretty straightforward.
GW: "Archie Meets KISS" makes me think of all the celebrities that have appeared on "The Simpsons." Is there room for that kind of irony within the Archie universe?
AS: Most definitely! Celebrities in Riverdale have become pretty common – we’ve featured J.Lo, Mark Zuckerberg, Simon Cowell, Michael Strahan and tons more. And that’s just in the last year!
GW: Do you expect "Archie Meets KISS" to appeal to a broader audience than the usual reader of Archie?
AS: I’d hope so. I know the KISS Army is very vocal and dedicated, so I’m hoping this story has enough cool stuff to keep them entertained! Dan Parent’s done a bang-up job on the art. I’ve said this before, but Dan’s the premiere Archie artist of this generation, so having him draw this story is wonderful. He nails the KISS guys’ likenesses and he can draw some pretty cool zombies, too.
GW: I like the strange appeal of KISS. For a story like this it offers a little sense of danger but in a comfortable way, like Alice Cooper. What do you think of the Archie gang meeting up with a contemporary artist that is a product of today and has an edge, like Lady Gaga? Could you see her in the pages of an Archie comic?
AS: I’d love to write a Lady Gaga meets Archie comic – like KISS, I love her music and think she’s such a larger-than-life character, that it’d work. I could totally see that happening!
GW: Finally, we all look forward to the four part Archie Meets KISS storyline which begins in Archie # 627 in November. Are there any final thoughts you like to close with?
AS: If you’re a fan of KISS, or Archie – or just looking for a fun, action-packed adventure featuring monsters, magic and loads of comedy, you’re in for a treat. Dan Parent does a wonderful job on the art and it also features zombies and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch! What more could you want?
And now Part 2: Dan Parent
GEEKWEEK: Did you find it to be a surprise when you learned you'd be working on an Archie comic featuring KISS?
DAN PARENT: Yeah, that’s not your everyday gig! But I was thrilled for sure!
GW: What is your sense of the readership of Archie comics? Mostly teens along with a mix of older comics fans? I wonder how many teens will never have heard of KISS? I imagine that can be part of the fun, to introduce KISS to a whole new generation.
DP: Archie readership is all over the map. When I’m at conventions, I meet people from every age and background. While the biggest chunk is probably still young readers, there’s a steady fan base with older readers, from college age to grandparents. A lot of teens know KISS, for those who like classic rock, and those who watch Gene Simmons’s reality show. My daughter, who is 18, liked KISS before this whole project came about.
GW: Please share with us one of your memories of KISS. In the spirit of the last question, how would you describe the band to a kid who has no idea who you're talking about.
DP: My oldest KISS memory is dancing at the eighth grade dance to the song, “Beth”…with a girl named Beth! Honest to God, that’s true! I would describe KISS to a kid as an American rock ‘n’ roll band known for their classic imagery and costumes as well as their classic music.
GW: Dan, you created the first openly gay character in the Archie universe, Kevin Keller. Of course, it makes sense if you want Riverdale to be more inclusive. Moving forward, do you foresee any other big changes ahead for Archie and the gang?
DP: I’m sure as time marches on, changes will continue in Riverdale. Kevin’s changed the dynamic in Riverdale, in a one hundred percent positive way, thanks to our family of loyal fans, and the new fans who’ve joined us. While Riverdale stays the same, it also changes too.
GW: Why was it, do you think, that Archie didn't meet KISS back in the ‘70s?
DP: I’m not sure! But I’m glad the project waited until I was working here!
GW: Lastly, thank you for your time, are there any final thoughts you'd like to say?
DP: Thanks to all the readers who let me have the greatest job in the world. I’ll keep working hard to entertain you, I promise!