“The story I read on the news reflected hate,” Monster screenwriter Patty Jenkins writes in the introduction to the new comics anthology Love is Love, “but its result is reflected back in this book, and comes out only as love…. Here is to continuing the tradition of turning darkness into light through art.”
The naming of Love is Love was quite deliberate. DC writer Marc Andreyko enlisted the help of more than 200 artists and authors to honor the victims and survivors of June’s shooting at Pulse, a Orlando gay bar that became the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil sine 9/11.
Andreyko, an out gay comics writer whose recent books include Batwoman and Wonderwoman ’77, pulled together a group of contributors ranging from five-time Eisner award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis to comedian Patton Oswalt to create a wide ranging tribute, from poetry to Batman stories (one of which we’re proud to run below). The result: a magnificently diverse “love letter to the LGBTQ community,” with all proceeds going to the families of victims and survivors via Equality Florida.
Love is Love, a joint venture between publishers IDW and DC Comics, is out December 28. Read on for a talk with Andreyko about the book—and four pages created for the project that appear exclusively here.
How did the project come together?
I read about what happened at Pulse and felt like I had been punched in the stomach. My instant reflex reaction as a kid who grew up in the ‘80s, with “We Are the World” and Live Aid was, “Let’s do something.” By early evening that Sunday, I had over 70 different comic book artists, writers, editors, publicist and actors willing to participate. Then it just took on a life of its own and snowballed. I talked to the people at DC and IDW. They said anything they could do, they would.
In a year when horrible things seemed to stack on top of one another, your first instinct was to do something. How do you avoid that overwhelming sense of hopelessness?
I was becoming a teenager when AIDS first came on the scene. As a gay man, if I was 10 years older, I might not be here right now. I saw a whole generation that was missing. Whether my parents raised me right or whatever, my reaction to something like that is to do something. Even though I’m a gay man, I’m also a white man, so I get all of the pluses with very little blowback. And there’s enough residual Catholic guilt in me that I get to write superheroes and movies every day and get to meet my idols… I have to give back. I think if every able-bodied person in America gave just an hour a week, this world would be a much better place.
And how often do we have the opportunity to use our skills to really effect change in the world?
When something this horrific happens, it shouldn’t be compartmentalized and forgotten in six months. This should hurt for a long time. The moment we become used to stuff like this is the moment we’re the fall of Rome. These were just a bunch of kids that were just having fun and celebrating in a place that they thought was safe. And to have that sanctity busted into and destroyed in such a horrible, unfair way—if I didn’t do something, I feel like I would be complicit in letting people forget about this.
What did you ask artists and writers to contribute? Is there a broader theme?
The book is called Love is Love because I wanted it to be a book about love, not a commentary on gun violence or how we treat mental illness in this country. There’s a place for that and I have strong opinions about those things, but I didn’t want this to become a political screed and become more divisive.
Have you found the comics community and industry to be welcoming to different people and viewpoints?
Absolutely. I’ve never had any problems with the companies I’ve worked with. DC, IDW and Archie [Comic Publications] were so progressive before it was cool to be progressive. I’ve been an out creator my entire career and never experienced even the slightest hint of homophobia in any of these companies. There’s a very logical reason why so many LGBT people read comic books: There’s a lot of crossover between those two worlds. Gay bars are what Comic-Con is, in a sense—a place where you can be gay, straight or whatever and just be. There’s not going to be any judgement. It’s a place to be and enjoy yourself. That’s very similar to Comic-Con. Every time I go to Comic-Con and see someone who is profoundly physically challenged and who has made their wheelchair into a dragon, my cynicism washes away. It’s a place where we get to celebrate who we really are. And that’s what gay bars have evolved into.
Find out more about Love is Love here.