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10 Ways to Support Comics Causes

Comics Gifts That Give Back: Museums, Non-Profits and Benefit Art Books


Want to give a gift to a comics fan or creator who has everything? There are several worthwhile comics-centric, non-profit organizations, museums and charities that are offering special gifts, graphic novels and unique experiences in exchange for your (mostly) tax-deductible donations. Whether buy something or make a donation in your name or a client/friend/loved one's name, your gift will help support these worthwhile organizations and causes all year round.

1. VIZ Media and Autodesk: Art for Hope

First Flight
© Dave Guertin
It's been several months since the devastating great Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. While it's not front page news anymore, the towns and the people who have been affected by these disasters are still rebuilding their homes and trying to get back to some kind of normalcy, and they still need your help.

San Francisco-based manga publisher VIZ Media has teamed up with graphics software company Autodesk and over 40 contributing artists from around the world to create Art for Hope, a very special digital artbook to benefit reconstruction efforts in Japan. Art for Hope will debut on VIZManga.com on December 1, and will be available for download for $4.99. All of VIZ Media's net proceeds for this eBook for either web-enabled computers/devices or iOS device like the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch will be donated to support ongoing disaster reconstruction efforts in Japan by Architecture for Humanity.

2. Smile: Pray for Japan by Takehiko Inoue

Smile: Pray for Japan 4
© Takehiko Inoue

In addition to Art for Hope, VIZManga.com also has Smile: Pray for Japan by Takehiko Inoue, a 4-volume collection of inspiring digital sketches created by the creator of Slam Dunk, Vagabond, and Real, in response to the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami.

Created only with his fingertip and an iPad, Inoue's images of smiling people, young and old were meant to offer a message of courage and hope to the survivors and to Japan in this time of crisis. Proceeds from the sale of these $1.99 digital sketchbooks will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

3. Cartoon Art Museum

Cartoon Art Museum logo
© Cartoon Art Museum

Located in San Francisco's South of Market district near the SF Modern Art Museum, The Cartoon Art Museum offers a year-round program of exhibits, lectures, film screenings, classes, cartooning demos and much more. They also have a large archive of original comics art and ephemera.

Support CAM with your membership, donation or purchase from the Museum Shop, and keep the laughs coming all year 'round.

Cartoon Art Museum: 655 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Ph: 415-CAR-TOON | http://www.cartoonart.org | Twitter: @cartoonart

4. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund logo

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund offers legal support to comics creators, retailers and readers in some pretty challenging times. With the case of Brandon X looming (the U.S. manga reader who had his laptop searched at the US/Canada border and is now facing possible jail time), the CBLDF needs your support more than ever.

Support CBLDF by joining at any level -- you'll get your choice of exclusive goodies like prints, buttons and signed graphic novels. You can also bid in their benefit auctions and get your hands on some rare and hard-to-find collectibles, or donate, just because they're there to help comic retailers, creators, and fans and protect your right to sell, create and read comics.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: http://www.cbldf.org | Twitter: @cbldf

5. Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art

Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art
New York City is home to artists, comics creators, authors, editors and publishers, so it's only fitting that it has it's own museum dedicated to comics. MoCCA has an extensive archive and library, and hosts numerous exhibits (including a showing of Bat-Manga and Batman memorabilia) and special events throughout the year (including the annual MoCCA Festival). Consider giving a gift membership to your comics-loving friends in the Tri-State Area.

MoCCA: 594 Broadway, Suite 401 (btwn. Houston and Prince), New York, NY 10012 Ph: 212-254-3511 | http://www.moccany.org/ | Twitter: @MoCCAnyc

6. ToonSeum

© ToonSeum

Also on the East Coast is ToonSeum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a fun and friendly home for comics, animation and cartoon fans, readers, and creators. The museum hosts exhibits, holds special events, cartooning classes geared to educate, inspire and entertain kids (and grown-ups) of all ages. Join today or give a gift membership to keep the fun happening all year long.

ToonSeum: 945 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 Ph: 412-232-0199 | http://www.toonseum.org | Twitter: @ToonSeum

7. The Center for Cartoon Studies

The Center for Cartoon Studies
© The Center for Cartoon Studies
Founded in 2005, The Center for Cartoon Studies offers a place to learn the art and craft of graphic storytelling in the heart of Vermont. The recent floods in 2011 affected the school, so they could use a donation or two to help them rebuild and come back stronger than ever.

If you need a reason to give, check out these compelling comics about CCS by Gabby Schulz (Monsters), Joe Lambert, Max de Radiguès, or pick up one of these graphic novels, comics and mini-comics created by CCS students, staff and alumni.

Center for Cartoon Studies: P.O. Box 125, White River Junction, Vermont 05001 Ph: 802.295.3319 | http://www.cartoonstudies.org | Twitter: @cartoonstudies

8. Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center

Charles M. Schulz Museum
Tucked away in the Northern California town of Santa Rosa is the Charles M. Schulz Museum, celebrating the life and work of the creator of one of the most popular comic strips ever, Peanuts. Besides hosting exhibits year-round, the Schulz Museum also offers cartooning classes, fun events for kids and a cartoonist-in-residence program. There's also an ice rink, a garden with a "kite-eating tree," a research center and a gift shop. You can give gift memberships, donate directly to the museum or pick up some of the very cool Peanuts gear, toys, tees, and gifts for sale in their gift shop.

Charles M. Schulz Museum: 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, California 95403 Ph: (707) 579-4452 | http://www.schulzmuseum.org/

9. The Hero Initiative

The Hero Initiative
© The Hero Initiative

As many comics artists have discovered, creating some of the most beloved comics characters is no guarantee of financial security when you come upon hard times, or a medical emergency or natural disaster occurs. That's where The Hero Initiative comes in.

The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support, and/or a way back to earning a living from the work they love to do. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has helped over 40 creators and their families with over $400,000 worth of aid when they needed it most. Give back to the creators who have given so much joy to readers of all ages with your tax-deductible donation to The Hero Initiative.

The Hero Initiative: 11301 Olympic Blvd., #587, Los Angeles, CA 90064 | http://www.heroinitiative.org | Twitter: @heroinitiative

10. Reading With Pictures

Reading With Pictures
© Reading With Pictures

Creating and reading comics can play an important role in education. That's why Reading With Pictures was founded, to "advocate the use of comics in the classroom to promote literacy" and to "get comics into schools and get schools into comics."

Your donation can help fund RWP's projects or buy your copy of the Reading With Pictures comics anthology, featuring stories and art by Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother), Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Eric Wright (Frankie Pickle) and Josh Elder (Mail Order Ninja).

Reading With Pictures: http://readingwithpictures.org/ | Twitter: @readingwithpix

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