Dan Brereton is known to many horror comic and art fans for his monster super-team the Nocturnals, as well as his instantly recognizable creatures of the night. Brereton has launched several successful kickstarter campaigns for his art books in the past, but his most recent (Nocturnals Anniversary Art Book) was made available exclusively through the Hero Initiative, an organization well-known for helping members of the comic industry in their time of need.
This October, Brereton not only donated his time and efforts to the project, but he also brought in a number of fellow artists in support of the Hero Initiative, who donated original artwork from The Nocturnals Anniversary Art Book for a series of ebay auctions aimed at raising funds for the organization.
Brereton became “…aware of Jim McLauchlin’s efforts as far back as the early 2000s, when the charity was in its first incarnation, A.C.T.O.R. A few years later, around the time it became known as “The Hero Initiative”, Jim instituted a series of sketch cover auctions – the first was in 2007, for Ultimate Spider-Man. I contributed a drawing of Venom done on a blank cover edition created specifically for the project, along with at least 100 other artists . These become known as the Hero 100 Series . When I saw how much these things were going for at auction- the numbers were listed on a sheet of paper accompanying a copy of a book collecting them all- I was not only motivated to keep doing them every year, which I have, but to try and bring in as much for them as possible by making them very appealing to collectors.”
The artist’s personal connection to the charity was formed “When my friend Gene Colan was going through health problems as he entered his 80’s, I was very concerned and renewed my efforts to raise funds to help him and other elder statesmen of the comic creator community, who didn’t have much of any retirement plan. I have done several conventions as a guest artist appearing exclusively at the HI booth in several cities over the last decade- and when The Nocturnals were approaching their 20th Anniversary of publication, Jim and I concocted a project to help raise funds while celebrating the series by creating something the readers of Nocturnals would enjoy. It took longer than we expected to complete it , but Jim and I are nothing, if not dogged.”
When it came time to recruit fellow artists for the project, Brereton “Asked as many of my peers who I thought might say yes- and who would actually come through – as I could. Jim asked quite a few artists as well, some we both know personally. Some of the more recognizable names of contributors to the book and the auction are: Stan Sakai, Bill Sienkiewicz, Arthur Adams, Dave Johnson, Walter Simonson, Mark Texeira, Glenn Fabry, Tomm Coker and many more.”
Even though Brereton was wildly successful with his recruitment efforts, it’s not always easy to actually get the work from the artists for projects like these. Brereton acknowledges that “With the majority of professional artists, they’re incredibly busy, so setting aside time for a charity effort can affect their deadlines. This is why the project took as long as it did to complete: we were patient , but we didn’t expect a rapid turnaround. It’s also why the work which made it to auction and in the pages of the art book are so special to me- the amazing pieces so many illustrators did turn in -those who not only said yes, but came through. We were very fortunate to also have a body of past work by acclaimed artists who contributed pin-ups and artwork related to Nocturnals we could also include in the book. Artists like Gene Colan, Alex Ross, Bruce Timm, Mike Allred, Arthur Adams – as well as recent work by Steve Rude and Howard Chaykin. The results are a group of 50 artists and a varied and consistently gorgeous group of drawings and paintings in the art book and in the auction. The book also features two Nocturnals short comic stories I wrote, illustrated by Ruben Martinez and Viktor Kalvachev. They both contributed stunning storytelling art.”
Brereton sees the Hero Initiative as a crucial charity that “…helps to keep some creators’ electric bills and rent paid, and help with some potentially overwhelming medical costs. They’ve helped creators struggling to find paying work in a shrinking market. They have a consulting doctor who helps out and they have a group of very dedicated regional volunteers who drive creators to medical appointments, pick up groceries, etc. These people care deeply about these comic legends, and they’re doing great things – as well as small kindnesses and aid that combine to make a huge effort on behalf of comics professionals who face seemingly insurmountable problems. There wasn’t an entity to help them in the past, for so long – and now there is. I’m very grateful to Jim, Christine, the folks on the board, and all the volunteers.”
Brereton is happy to continue promoting the Hero Initiative’s effort and “As a creator, it’s comforting to know they are out there. Comics readers and fans have a chance to become an active part of the lives of their real-life comic book heroes. I have accepted many donations from readers who come to get their books signed at conventions, and when I put out the Hero sign, it’s amazing how generous they are. So many comics readers and collectors really understand what HI is doing- and it’s been a tangible and crucial way for fans to make a difference in the lives of creators. It’s also worth mentioning the artwork Hero generates with each sketch cover project is impressive. The fact they make them available to own, and then collect these works in handsome volumes just adds to our enjoyment of comic art.”
If you are interested in donating to Hero Initiative, or purchasing any of the original art from the Nocturnals Anniversary Art Book (or the book itself), please visit their ebay auction/store page and their website.