Batman, Superman and Harry Potter characters have been bound together under one cover — and it's all because of one man's mission to relay one powerful message: love is love.
Marc Andreyko is a comic book industry veteran of more than 20 years. His notable works include the book, "Manhunter," and the limited series, "Torso."
Last June, Andreyko was one of the millions of Americans who watched in horror as news reports detailed the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
In response, Andreyko rallied the creative world into developing a book. Actors Matt Bomer and Patton Oswalt, filmmakers Patty Jenkins and Morgan Spurlock, and writer J.K. Rowling were among those who answered the call, and the result is “Love is Love.” It's a a powerful graphic novel anthology that features messages of solidarity, coming-out stories and memorial pieces.
The proceeds of the book go to Equality Florida, a nonprofit that does outreach on LGBT issues. The earnings of this book will be specially earmarked for people affected by the shooting.
When The Frame spoke with Andreyko, he revisited the night of the shooting and how it personally affected him:
"I had gone to bed that Saturday night and heard there was a shooting at a club, and the reaction like most Americans, was like, Oh, that's sad but that happens everyday. I woke up the next morning and saw 49 people were dead and 53 were profoundly injured. I felt ill. My reaction was to go on Facebook and I said 'This is horrible ... we as the comic community should do something.'
That's what you do. If you have a skill set and you're an artist, you do something that not only raises money, but it helps you, as an artist, sort of purge and deal with your feelings about it and give someone something. As opposed to just writing a check to the Red Cross, by having something in hand, it memorializes the people that we lost. It's something they can revisit. These events should hurt for a while. We shouldn't compartmentalize these and move on. When a tragedy of this immensity happens, we need to remember it and it needs to ache for a very long time — hopefully to prevent more of these things from happening."
Within six hours of Andreyko posting a message to come together and make a book, he had 75 responses from actors, writers and artists. Less than 24 hours after the shooting happened, he was on his way to curating "Love is Love."
It's important to note the uniqueness of this project. The lines of separation between publishing were crossed. Characters from DC and Archie Comics, and even from the Harry Potter universe were loaned to be part of the book.
The anthology is 144 pages, with bonus content on the digital version. Aside from length, Andreyko kept the guidelines fairly simple: "I said they could be specific about Orlando, they could be autobiographical, they could be poems — just do what you feel in response to this event."
Joshua Yehl, comics editor at the Internet media company IGN, had a personal connection to what happened at Pulse. A friend of his was killed in the club. Yehl decided to collaborate with Andreyko on the book after they met at San Diego Comic Con.
"[Yehl] wrote a lovely sort of analogy piece because [his friend] was such a 'Star Wars' fan, and it's sort of an homage to 'Star Wars' and it's just a really beautiful lovely piece," Andreyko said. "And Josh had said he had tried a couple of pieces before that, that were specific to [his friend] and they just didn't feel right, so he did something like this."
Love is love
There's a line in Yehl's comic — "But if we don't start doing good, just like he would, then who will?" — that neatly encapsulates the message of the book. Its tone is hopeful and forward looking and it changes the conversation, which was always a part of Andreyko's mission statement.
"I wanted it to be called 'Love is Love' and I wanted to celebrate love and to make people think about why you would be threatened by the 'other,' or the different," he explained. "Because in real life, when you meet someone who's in the group of the 'other,' stereotypes dissolve. Because you realize that these are all individuals who have specific traits that define them and the similarities [we share]."
A lot of the book is about accepting people who are different, and it's often through their children and learning to live with and embrace people who may not be straight. It's a notion that's highlighted in James Robinson's piece about a groom's father giving a toast on the day of his son's wedding with a transgender woman.
Including transgender was important to Andreyko:
"Statistically, the number one cause of death in the trans community is homicide, and the number two is suicide, and those are just really sobering statistics. I have a number of trans friends and the amount of bravery ... I can't even wrap my brain around what it would be like to be in the wrong body, and the courage to deal with that. Sometimes the 'T' part doesn't get included in the 'LGB' part, and I really wanted to embrace all the different facets of our community."
"Love is Love" is available in stores and online.