A regular Joe fancies himself a muscle-bound superhero. He daydreams about how he’d swoop in and save lives in the event of a mass shooting. At first, it seems like an innocuous or even noble fantasy. But slowly, the narrator considers the horror—and body count—required to set the stage for such heroics. The imagined superhero shrinks down to human size as he seeks out new ways to make the world a better place.
“The Hero Fantasy,” written by Paul Tobin with pictures by Dustin Weaver, is one of more than 70 touching, imaginative and powerful pieces responding to the horror of the October 1 shooting in Image Comics’ new anthology Where We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas (imagecomics.com). It pulls together the varied talents of more than 150 writers and artists to explore the themes, causes and responses to gun violence. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit Route 91 Strong.
“Las Vegas is my home. I felt like something needed to be done to help in a unique way,” says curating editor and Eisner award-winning artist JH Williams III (DC’s Batwoman; Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Overture) in a press statement.
The book contains fiction and non-fiction, essays, poetry, first-person accounts from survivors and first responders and narratives by those who weren’t there at all, like the story of an American teacher living in Madrid who grapples with explaining the uniquely American problem of gun violence to his Spanish pupils (“Untranslatable” by Greg Lockard, with art by Tim Fish).
An all-star crew of comic writers and artists from around the globe participated, including Gaiman, Jessica Jones’ Brian Michael Bendis, Bitch Planet’s Kelly Sue DeConnick, Sweet Tooth’s Jeff Lemire, Hellboy’s Mike Mignola and too many more to name. And some local talent contributed their talents, as well. Weekly contributor Jason Harris teamed up with writer Ollie Masters in “Working the Line,” which narrates Harris’ efforts to organize food deliveries to victims, volunteers and emergency workers in the aftermath of October 1. Local author and homeless advocate Joshua Ellis provides a heartfelt essay about his evening at Huntridge Tavern as news of the attack reached barflies. And in “Six Weeks,” UNLV instructor Jarret Keene uses eyewitness interviews with UNLV student and survivor Aubri to tell how she rebuilt her life following the shooting.
In the introduction, Williams states his intention: “Through stories and art, we want to ask the questions and address the problems we face as a country … to get the conversation moving. Where We Live does that and more. Now it’s up to us to keep the conversation going.”
Where We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas Edited by JH Williams III, $20.