Comic artists gathered at the Moon and Sixpence Pub in Hollywood Thursday night to participate in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s first CBLDF Liberty Jam. The Defense Fund provides legal defense assistance in comic book censorship issues. CBLDF executive director Charles Brownstein and Portland editor/writer Joe Keatinge (Popgun, Brutal) invited local talent to draw artist sketch cards for a collection of Liberty Trading Cards, being released with the help of Cryptozoic Entertainment to celebrate the CBLDF’s 25th anniversary.
The Liberty Trading Cards set will consist of 72 cards that tell the history of comics censorship from the Wertham-era 50s to the present, and will raise money for the Defense Fund. Along with the basic cards, the set will include some exclusive cards at random, including autograph cards and artist sketch cards, which will feature those being created by artists Thursday night.
Based out of New York City, Brownstein traveled to Portland for the event after attending the ComicsPRO retailers’ convention in Dallas. Asked why he made the trip in person, Brownstein replied that he was starting the Liberty Jam in Portland because of the concentration of comic talent here. Thursday night’s event was the “seed” that he hoped would blossom into an regular event across the nation. He also hinted at other reasons for his visit: “I’m scheming great things with [Portland’s] community of publishers,” he said with a smile.
According to Brownstein, the trading card set was initially suggested by Cory Jones, Chief Creative Officer at Cryptozoic Entertainment. “The CBLDF is his favorite charity,” he explained, “so he contacted [CBLDF president] Larry Marder.” Jones offered to “do all the work,” including creating the cards themselves, and all the CBLDF needed to do was contact artists to participate. “They went above and beyond,” raved Brownstein.
From 7:30 on, the Moon and Sixpence steadily filled as artists and supporters filtered in and took over available tables. A congenial atmosphere prevailed as participants sketched, drank, and talked shop with their peers. Shannon Wheeler, Ian McEwan and Terry Blas conversed over pints, as Zack Soto and Indigo Kelleigh quickly filled in cards with art at another table and cartoonist Carolyn Main sat talking with ComicsAlliance’s Laura Hudson.
Jim Valentino (normalman, Image Comics co-founder) was one of the many artists sketching cards that night. A longtime friend of the CBLDF, Valentino has spent “years and years and years” providing advice to Brownstein, and is on The Hero Initiative’s board of directors. “It’s always good to have your guns loaded,” he said about the fundraiser, “even if you don’t need them. There are so many threats to the First Amendment, it’s best to be prepared.” Valentino is the publisher of the Portland-based Shadowline imprint of Image Comics, and was happy to report sellouts and reprints of his books, which include Metropol, Bomb Queen and Cowboy Ninja Viking. Penciling in a figure on a blank card, Valentino added, “It’s important for those making a living from comics to give back to it.”
The trading card set will be unveiled at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, and will be sold not only in comic shops, but also in trading card stores. “It’s cool to be able to expand the CBLDF to card shops, where people may not be aware of the problems with censorship,” said Brownstein.
Comics lovers or fans of free speech wishing to become members of the CBLDF are invited to visit their website.