Former Diamond Comic Distributors Vice President – Purchasing and Pacific Comics co-founder Bill Schanes has founded a new charitable initiative, Give Comics Hope, to support comic stores as they face the challenges of the COVID pandemic.  The initiative is calling for public donations alongside high-value items donated by industry professionals to support two upcoming charitable auctions.  Current and former comic book industry professionals have donated time and resources to bring these two auction initiatives to life.  Craig Yoe designed the initiative logo.

Items already donated include The Walking Dead cover art donated by Image Comics partner Robert Kirkman, paintings by Bill Sienkiewicz, Star Wars art by P. Craig Russell, original art from New Mutants #88 by Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld, original art from X-Factor #55 and Amazing Spider-Man #326 signed by Colleen Doran, Excalibur #125 art signed by Dave Hoover and many more.

We asked Schanes to share his background in the comics business, and how that brought him to this project.  "Going back to 1971, my brother and I found a large collection of comic books at a swap meet, which turned out to be a gold mine of silver age comics from the 50s and 60s," Schanes told us.  "We quickly opened up a business called Pacific Comics, located in Pacific Beach [California].  We opened our first comic book store in San Diego, and within a few years we had four stores.  We had trouble getting new comics, so we opened a distribution company, and later a publishing company, both also called Pacific Comics."

"But our heart and soul was really in the comic book shops," he continued.  "That’s where I got my biggest number of friends in the comics community, and I really felt like in this pandemic time, there is a group of retailers that need help, and they are part of our community, part of our life-blood.  Without them, the comic book industry would not exist as it has in the past."

Asking for donations of collectibles to be auctioned to support stores acknowledges the difficult times in which many people find themselves now, Schanes explained.  "I was in Italy travelling when COVID hit, and I was trying to figure out how to raise funds," he said.  "I’m not a creator, I'm not an artist, I can’t write.  But I do have a good Rolodex, and I’ve got a concept.  I was thinking about the fact that if I ask people to donate money right now, a lot of people have been furloughed or lost jobs, so that might be very difficult to do.  But the entire food chain of comics -- creators, publishers, retailers, media, printers, consumers that go to comic stores -- owns a lot of stuff, a lot of collectibles.  So I thought it would be easier, not easy, but easier for them to give something they’ve already paid for and it won’t cost them any new money, and they could try to support the stores that supported them over the decades."

Items valued at over $500 will be auctioned by Heritage Auctions between Wednesday, October 28 and Wednesday, November 11.  "When Bill approached us with the opportunity to give back to the comic shops that spark the lifelong love of this medium in countless fans and collectors, we leapt at the chance," Heritage Vice President Barry Sandoval said of the initiative.  Donations for the Heritage auction are due by Friday, October 2.

Items valued at under $500 will be offered through public auctions and Buy It Now opportunities on eBay between Wednesday, November 11, 2020 and Friday, December 11, 2020, conducted by Jesse James Comics/Comic Book Shopping Network.  "Our industry is stronger when customers have many options to find the comic book community that is right for them," James said.  "It’s my pleasure to help my retail brethren by leveraging our brand’s strength on eBay and the power of CBSN to raise money for GIVE COMICS HOPE."

Funds raise through the auctions will be routed to the comic store fund of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which had distributed over $950,000 in COVID relief to comic stores by mid-May (see "Binc Distributing Over $950,000 to Comics Stores").  Give Comics Hope will take no organizational fees, and will only deduct any actual, direct costs from the funds raised.

The initiative has more info on its website, and has social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.