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How you can help Bill Messner-Loebs

by  in Comic News Comment
How you can help Bill Messner-Loebs

Official Press Release

Hello, my name is Dirk Deppey, and I’m webmaster for The Comics
Journal (www.tcj.com), America’s most reputable magazine of news and
opinion on the comics medium.

Last Tuesday, we received word from William Messner-Loebs, creator of
the acclaimed comic book series “Journey” and former writer for DC
Comics’ “The Flash” that his home was in imminent danger of
foreclosure on Friday the 14th due to the machinations of a
double-dealing bank. We immediately set out organizing a web-based
campaign to find some rich benefactor to save him from this fate.

When the deadline came and went, we shifted gears and began
attempting to raise money amongst comics fans to help make Bill and
his wife Nadine’s landing as soft as possible. To facilitate this,
we’ve opened an unused forum on our online message board to serve as
a clearing-house information, and for fans to advertise benefit eBay
auctions and the like. The forum, entitled “Bill ‘n’ Nadine’s Online
Rent Party,” can be found here:

http://www.tcj.com/messboard/ubbcgi/forumdisplay.cgi?action=topics&forum=Bill+|APO|n|APO|+Nadine|APO|s+Online+Rent+Party&number=5

I realize this is an unweildy URL, so here’s the “basic information” thread within that forum:

http://www.tcj.com/messboard/ubb/Forum5/HTML/000003.html

We are of course looking to spread the word about all of this as far
and wide as possible — which brings me to you. Could you help?
Enclosed below are transcripts of a press release from the
Messner-Loebs, which should provide you with all the basic
information. We’re encouraging people to send checks (made out to
“William F. Loebs”) to:

Bill & Nadine Messner-Loebs

PO Box 558

Pinckney, MI 48169

As the messages below make clear, there’s a classic “nasty bank
screws poor, handicapped, aging comics creator” angle that should
make for interesting reading — and Bill and Nadine need help
something fierce. Incidentally, they can be contacted via email at
“billmloebs@aol.com”.

Thank you in advance for any consideration you can spare.

– Dirk Deppey

dirk@fantagraphics.com

Webmaster, The Comics Journal

Press release begins:

Critically acclaimed, award-winning 27 year veteran writer/artist
Bill Messner-Loebs thought the comics industry had forgotten him. “I
was working at Marvel Comics when that company hit hard times but was
assured by my editor that my job was secure. Little did he know that
he was soon to be fired along with most of Marvel’s staff and talent.
I didn’t scramble for a job when the crisis first hit and when I was
let go, all the jobs were filled.”

Subsequently, Bill and his wife, Nadine, went through a bad patch
where they were unable to pay their mortgage. “We had enough money to
redeem the house in September but the company holding the lien
wouldn’t talk to us. We didn’t know what to do so we were sent to a
friend, Catherine Reisterer, a real-estate attorney, who contacted
the lien-holder, Trott & Trott of Southfield, Michigan, on our
behalf in November. She was assured that the company was willing to
work with us. Consequently we stopped looking for alternate
financing. We had a good down payment but, of course, our credit
rating was terrible.

“For months she called and wrote but got no reply. On the very day
she spoke to a representative who assured her everything was fine,
we came home to find an eviction notice on our door. Ms. Reisterer
was furious and we were completely terrified. As it is now, we need
to find someone to buy our home for $84,000 from Trott & Trott and
resell it to us on a land contract before June 15th, with our home as
security,” Nadine added. “We are desperate because due to the rising
prices we cannot even afford to move into another house, even to rent
one!”

Maggie Thompson, editor of the esteemed Comics Buyers Guide, the
comics industry newspaper, steered them toward A.C.T.O.R. (All
Committed to Our Roots), a Hollywood-based relief fund for comics
industry professionals. They came forward with living expenses for
the winter and additional funds to help redeem the home so they
could keep the down payment as a lump sum. The board of directors
also began helping Bill find work, but the income from various jobs
won’t be enough to save our home in time.

Nadine pointed out that Bill has had to deal with unemployment as
well as a sudden downturn in his wife’s health. She has lost 50
percent of her hearing in one ear and 60 percent in the other. She
had a bad fall in February, 2002 and the subsequent head injury has
left her with double and blurred vision, unceasing headaches, nausea
and an uneven gait. She injured her lungs as well and has had
pneumonia, influenza and bronchitis since then, all resulting in very
serious breathing problems. In one eight-day period she had five
breathing treatments. The lack of insurance has meant that she has
been unable to see the neurologist recommended by her doctor and has
applied for McPherson Help, a program designed to help the
uninsured. Still, the uncertainty over the home situation has not
helped her problems.

As handicapped senior citizens, Bill (who lost his right arm when
only 13 days old) and Nadine did everything they could to take care
of themselves without looking for outside assistance. Bill was an
on-line entertainment editor for a dot.com company from January to
May in 2001 but only received five pay checks because the recession
caused their major client to default on his payments. “We all kept
working because the guy kept saying he would make it up and we were
expecting a big check. He never paid and the company went under. That
was the straw that broke the homeowner’s back.

“Since then we’ve learned that the middle class is the largest group
dropping into homelessness. We’re not on drugs or alcohol, involved
in crime or nefarious activities, we just couldn’t get the money and
the projects lined up in the right order to keep the mortgage paid.
We only owe one-third of what the property is worth. We feel as if we
are in a Simon Legree melodrama and the bad guys are twirling their
mustaches to throw us out immediately. It’s ironic that we have been
volunteers for the Salvation Army R.E.A.C.H. program for the homeless
and have helped raise monies and food for the needy now we are in the
same situation.”

Bill appeared in the first alternative comic book published by Power
Comics in Lansing, Michigan and in the second one, A+ Comics,
published in Detroit. He is thus considered a comics pioneer.
“Michigan has been in the forefront of the comics industry, in
providing talent and inspiration. We have top letterers, pencilers,
writers and cover artists actively working in this fascinating
industry. I just feel fortunate that I was in it for so long and it
looks now that my friends are helping me to a comeback. You can’t get
any luckier than that!”

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