Art for Sandy Relief: Bid on cool art to help hurricane victims

Hurricane Sandy left a wake of devastation across the East Coast last week, and following the superstorm's destruction come efforts to help those who were affected by it. One of the great things about the comic industry is that there are always people who work in it willing to do what they can to help people out, and this time is no different.

Art for Sandy Relief is an effort by Rich Ginter and Jim Viscardi. Viscardi currently works at Marvel in New York, while Rich left Marvel earlier this year to take a job as a digital designer in Disney's publishing department in Glendale, Calif. He made the move to California just two months before the hurricane hit his former home.

Both gentleman were kind enough to answer some questions about the initiative. Before getting into it, though, their first art auctions went live today, and you can head over to eBay to bid on them now. Rich also shares some other ways that you can help out below, either via direct donation, by donating art or just by spreading the word.

Here are the auctions that are currently up:

JK: How did this initiative come together, and who all is involved?

Rich: This relief effort came out of just my urge to want to be back in New York helping out. I have been in contact with many friends and family, and saw the photos of the all devastation over the past week. I felt helpless because I could not offer any assistance, so I tried to do what I thought would be best and that is to help raise money. I sat down on Friday night put together a few graphics, set up an email address, twitter and the facebook page. I put the word out on the @art4sandyrelief twitter and my own personal one, James Viscardi, is a friend and a colleague when I was at Marvel, immediately text me saying "I want to help" and I knew I could use it. Aside from the two of us there are those who have kindly started to pledge their donations to us and help spread the word.

Jim: Rich summed it up quite nicely [laughs]. He's been a good friend of mine for a few years, and that's what friends do--they help each other. Especially in times like these.

JK: Rich, you mentioned on the Art for Sandy Facebook page that you used to live in New York. Can you talk a little bit about your personal connection to the area?

Rich: Before my relocation to Los Angeles two months ago I lived in Staten Island, New York. I was born in Brooklyn, and my parents moved us to Staten Island at an early age. I called Staten Island my home. During the week with worrying about my family and not being back home to help just ate away at me all week. Also watching what has become of the New Jersey Shore, where I spent many summers, just hit a nerve. I think one part of being a New Yorker is, while we may be hard-headed, we definitely have heart and love our city. I can't be there in person to physically help friends and others pick up pieces of their lives, so why not try to help raise money so they can build new lives!

JK: Jim, being in New York, can you talk a little bit about your personal connection to Art for Sandy and how you were personally affected by the storm?

Jim: I have so many friends and family who live on the south shore of Long Island, where flooding was a major issue. Folks all around the house I grew up in lost so much due to their basements filling up with water. Short of providing meals, a warm place to stay and helping them pump out their houses, I wanted to find a way to help out more. When I saw Rich starting to put this together, I jumped at the opportunity to help him out.

JK: What are your plans for the money you raise, and why did you pick the charities you chose?

Rich: Currently our plan is to donate to the Steven Siller Tunnels to Towers Hurricane Relief effort. This charity does a lot of work in the New York and New Jersey area, and we wanted to give the donation to a local charity where we know the money will go to the places that need help the most. I had spoken with James, and if we raise a significant amount, we would like to split our donation money to another local charity as well.

JK: And of course the last, most important question: how can other folks, artists or otherwise, get involved and help out?

Rich: If any artist is interested in helping out they can email us at artforsandyrelief@gmail.com. Aside from artists being able to donate, we have set up a PayPal donation site where people can choose any amount they wish to donate can be done at this link:

Lastly, in an effort such as ours, one of the best kinds of help is to spread the word! We have a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/artforsandyrelief and a Twitter: @art4sandyrelief that people can share and retweet our posts. The more people that this reaches the better chances we have of helping out and doing something great for those in need!

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