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CBLDF News: Jim Lee benefit update, Mile High's Rozanski named Defender of Liberty

Official Press Release

ITEM! Jim Lee Benefit Signing Redux

Over 500 fans came through the doors of the Mile High Comics Mega Store in Thornton, CO to meet Jim Lee last Saturday. The signing was the payoff of last winter's Jim Lee benefit auction, wherein the wildly popular artist auctioned himself off to do a signing to raise money for the CBLDF. Lee signed for 5 hours all the while shaking hands and answering questions about his work on Batman, WildC.A.T.S., upcoming projects, and his commitment to the Fund. Rich Koslowski, cover artist of Busted #14 and author of Three Fingers and The Three Geeks was also signing. The day's event raised approximately$2,600 for the CBLDF, bringing the total fundraising from the Lee benefit above $11,000!

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"This is unprecedented," raves Fund Director Charles Brownstein. "Between Jim's original auction and Chuck'ssubsequent support, this signing has proved to be the among the most successful one-day benefits in Fund history. In fact, it'sprobably the most successful fundraising signing in comicshistory!"

Following the signing Jim Lee went back to his hotel to give his signing hand a rest while frequent CBLDF volunteer Rowan Rozanski took Brownstein over to the Mile High warehouse to meet up with the winners of seats at the Jim Lee Dinner Party. The Mile High Warehouse is a collector's dream filled floor to ceiling with important comics from the medium's century long history. Alongthe walls one sees some amazing original art, most notably a suite of Pogo drawings by Walt Kelly and an early Cerebus page by Dave Sim. Apart from comics it also boasts one of the most impressive private collections of Native American pottery in the United States. The Mile High warehouse is not open to the public, so this was a rare treat.

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When all parties had met at the warehouse, the group was off to the Palm restaurant where the winners of the seats at the dinner party­ Mark Gould, and his 10-year-old son Harvey, from Liverpool, UK; Charles (Chuck) Daly of New Jersey; Jeff Herman; and Arv Donovan of Colorado met Lee, Koslowski, Mile High VP William Murakami, Chuck and Rowan Rozanski, and Brownstein ­ had an extraordinary steak and seafood dinner at the Palm in downtown Denver. Before the entrees were brought out, the waitress tied a lobster bib around JimLee's neck which he promptly removed and began drawing on ­ apicture of a certain caped crusader with a lobster bib customized to his particular specs. Across the table 10-year-old Harvey took the cue to start drawing on paper he'd brought with him. He capablydrew his own version of Batman. "That's pretty good," Leesaid. "Just make sure you have all the proper trademark andcopyright information on there," he joked.

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If you couldn't make it to the signing there are still someartifacts from this memorable day floating around, including 500 Batman issues Lee signed for MileHighComics.com, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the CBLDF; and some original drawings and signed comics upcoming in CBLDF eBay auctions.

The CBLDF extends its thanks to Lee, Koslowski, the Rozanski family, and the entire Mile High Comics staff who made the signing a memorable, well-run success that raised much needed funds for the CBLDF's legal work on behalf of the First Amendment in comics.

ITEM! Rozanski is 2003 Defender of Liberty!

As last Saturday's Jim Lee signing party began, Fund DirectorCharles Brownstein announced that the CBLDF Board of Directors has selected Chuck Rozanski to be the 2003 Defender of Liberty. Rozanski joins past winners Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, George Perez, Brian Pulido as recipients of the Fund's highest honor.

Rozanski described the announcement to his readership in his weekly newsletter:

"When the time came for the autograph party to begin, I followedJim Lee out to the signing area and prepared to make the welcoming announcement. To my surprise, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Director Charles Brownstein co-opted my role, and began speaking to the huge crowd. I didn't particularly mind this action on Charles's part, as the entire Jim Lee signing was a benefit for the CBLDF, thought up by Jim Lee, and then later organized by Charles. It had surprised me, however, when Charles had told me a month prior that he was actually going to be coming to the signing. While I like Charles quite a bit, and greatly enjoy seeing him at the various comics conventions we both attend, it seemed a bit much for him to fly all the way to Colorado just to witness a single-day signing.

"What I had no inkling of, however, was that I was the subject ofa conspiracy. To my utter shock and amazement, Charles began speaking not about the Jim Lee signing, but rather about me. He told the crowd that he had flown to Colorado to make the first public announcement that I had been chosen by the Board of Directors of the CBLDF as the recipient of this year's DEFENDER OF LIBERTY award, the highest honor the CBLDF can bestow. In winning this award I joined past winners as exemplifying in the CBLDF board's opinion the highest dedication to protecting the rights of free speech and expression in the comics world.

"Suffice it to say, I was stunned. It simply never entered mymind that such a prestigious award could ever be received by a comics retailer. While I have worked very hard to promote the CBLDF, it was never with any thought in my mind but to try and help beat back the forces of censorship and repression. Protecting those members of our community who are threatened with lawsuits, fines, and even imprisonment for creating and selling comics that others (in their own infinite wisdom...) find offensive, was easily sufficient enough motivation for me to give generously of my time and money for the CBLDF. It has always been my thought that when the forces of repression attack any one of us, they are ultimately seeking to diminish the free speech rights of us all. As a leader in the comics retailing community, I refuse to sit by idly and allow that to happen. Being proactive in the cause of freedom can be expensive in many ways, but I'll keep doing it, if for no other reason than I feel that I owe it to my own children to not leave them a world with fewer freedoms than the one I inherited from my own parents."

Rozanski will be presented with the Defender of Liberty statue during the Eisner Awards ceremony on Friday July 18th at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

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