Thomas Mauer & Ronin Studios Give Aid With "HOPE: New Orleans"

width="125" height="190" alt="" border="0" align="right">Art From "Headlines"

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Cover By David Mack

There's been no shortage of catastrophe in the United States in recent years, man made and natural, but the tragic floods in New Orleans last year brought a different side of America into the spotlight. Politicians pointed fingers at members of the same party; famous celebrities indicted the President for his actions; and the light was shone on America's inability to properly respond to tragedy yet again. A year later, there's little mention of the Hurricane Katrina victims in the news, nor has there been much help delivered to those affected by the floods: it can sometimes seem like people have forgotten it ever happened. However, don't count Ronin Studios among those who have forgotten about the victims of Katrina, as they're releasing "HOPE: New Orleans," the second project of this kind from the company (who also released "HOPE: Tsunami Relief"). With a collection of "Tsunami Relief" on the way, in addition to the release of the "New Orleans" anthology, CBR News spoke to editor Thomas Mauer about the project.

"In the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, one of the founding members of Ronin and Louisiana resident Jeffery LaJaunie suggested we do this new anthology," said Mauer of the project's origin. "We all thought it was a great idea because with Americans as the primary audience, it has a good chance to appeal to a large number of people. If you look at Ronin Studios in terms of political philosophy, you could compare it to an anarcho-syndicalist system: It's not a publisher in the sense that Ronin carries the costs; it is still all self-publishing. Creators can come there to find collaborators and work on their projects under the Ronin banner, pitch their books to publishers and get help with their career every step along the way from those who are a bit ahead of them. They can leave anytime they want, but Ronin Studios gives them a home and a banner to be attached to. Those who join Ronin think that's preferable to having to fend for themselves. In return, there's the larger community and a wide range of artistic resources. When bigger projects like anthologies are planned, people can join and return some of the love."

A project of this nature requires a different creator selection process than the normal comic book and Mauer explained how Ronin found the creative team for "New Orleans." "I offered to edit since no one else had the time or trusted themselves with this task," he said. "I'd just gotten 'Memories & Echoes: Remembering World War II' out the door for Ronin Studios earlier in the month, another charity anthology and my first work in comics as an editor, writer and letterer. My buddy Jesse Hansen agreed to retain his role as assistant editor which had been invaluable on 'Memories & Echoes.' Last but definitely not least, Ronin members signed up in droves to write, do art, letter.

"After formulating an initial plan for the anthology, I hit up various messageboards and comics news sites, contacted the friends in the industry that I'd made by this point and cold emailed big name creators. The response was amazing, especially from creators frequenting the Bendisboard. And then 'Batman Allies Secret Files 2005' writer Russell Lissau suggested to go to the top for the cover, which resulted in David Mack doing two amazing pieces for the book! People like Michael Lark, Brian Holguin, Christopher Yost, Kody Chamberlain and Joshua Fialkov offered to contribute. It didn't work out in some cases due to scheduling, unfortunately, but to see the response felt sort of otherworldly.

"When writers signed up, I told them that 'HOPE: New Orleans' would be themed around the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta as a tribute to the city, the region and its inhabitants. They could do stories involving Katrina and the subsequent flooding, but didn't have to. The genre of their story was up to them, but they should tell me first what kind of story they had in mind. This helped to make sure there wouldn't be duplication. Some teams actually submitted already finished stories, and if they fit the criteria, they made it into the book.

width="125" height="190" alt="" border="0" align=""> width="125" height="190" alt="" border="0" align="">Art From "Fade: Oblivion"

"If writers didn't bring their creative team to the table already, they'd then be paired off with artists and letterers. After script revisions and approval, it was the artists' and letterers' turns.

"We had a number of road bumps along the way with people unfortunately dropping off the radar, scrambling for replacement pencilers, inkers and grayscalers. Especially grayscalers, let me tell you. You'd think they're an endangered species [laughs]. But we overcame every obstacle and now the book is ready."

Following that response from Mauer, the next question is to ask why do a book for Katrina victims? While no one would doubt that the cause is worthy, there's a more personal reason for Mauer, namely, "Karma. I'm a struggling student from Germany and lending my time and the bit of knowledge I have about putting an anthology together was the one way I could think of to make a difference. As far as I know, my family doesn't have relatives in the United States, but reading and seeing what online friends and acquaintances inside and out of the comics industry had to go through, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get involved in 'HOPE: New Orleans' - especially after my own town was just barely spared a horrible flooding in the summer of 2002."

So who exactly is involved with this 194 page anthology? Mauer revealed that "New Orleans" has 33 stories, 5 pinups and involves more than 80 creators from five different continents. There's also fan favorite artist David Mack contributing the front and back covers, and the following creative lineup:


Writer: Russell Lissau

Penciler: G. Gerald Garcia

Inker: Gary Mitchell

Grayscaler: Thaddeus Branco

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Dwight L. MacPherson

Penciler: William Man

Inker: Jason Roth

Grayscaler: Thaddeus Branco

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Chad Lambert

Artist: Ryan Scott

PINUP by Dave Wachter


Writer: Thommy Melanson

Penciler: Tim Baskin

Inker: Tom Schloendorn

Grayscaler Nick "Tommy" Ellis

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Richard Evans

Artist: Rey Villegas

Grayscaler: Guy LeMay

Letterer: Johnny Lowe

"PRAYER"Writer/Artist: Vito Delsante

PINUP by Rich Stahnke


Writer: Ryan A. Brandt

Penciler: Bram Cayne

Inker: Andy Bennett

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Grant Chastain

Artist: Owen Dunne

Grayscaler: Andy Jewett

Letterer: Thomas Mauer

PINUP by Rey Villegas


Writer: Ryan Rubio

Artist: Thomas Boatwright


Writer: Shaun Manning

Penciler: Victor Cabanelas

Inker: Jason Roth

Letterer: Richard Leazer


Writer: Adam Beranek

Artist: Chris McCarver


Writer: Steve Zegers

Artist: G. Gerald Garcia

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Christopher Yost

Artist: Scott Wegener

Grayscaler: Thaddeus Branco

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: John Schlim, Jr.

Artists: Klaus & Wolfgang Schwandt

Grayscaler: Thaddeus Branco

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Darren G. Davis

Penciler/Grayscaler: Mike Jungbluth

Inker: Bradd Mielke

Letterer: Johnny Lowe

PINUP by Tim Shinn & David Barkmann


Writer: Leonard N. Wallace

Artist: Raphael Moran

Grayscaler: Dave Tuney

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Brandon Jerwa

Artist: John C. Worsley


Writer: Christopher Joe

Penciler: Michael Sumislaski

Inker: Jason Roth

Letterer: Johnny Lowe


Writer: Bruce Brown

Penciler: Jamie Hood

Inker: Aaron Leach

Letterer: Bill Boardman


Writers: Richard Leazer & Dave Waskins

Penciler/Grayscaler: Mark Philips Torres

Inker: Diana Greenhalgh

Letterer: Richard Leazer


Writer: Leonard Wallace

Artist: Dave Tuney

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer/Layouts/Letterer: Thaddeus Branco

Plot/Penciler: Anthony Cannonier

Finishes: Garan & Dawn Madeiros


Writer/Letterer: Mike Storniolo

Penciler: Jeremy Dale

Inker: Jason Glick


Writer: Kevin Lynch

Artist: Alfred Tam


Writer: Rick Shingler

Artist: Brett Wood

Grayscaler: Daniel Lundie

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Dwight L. MacPherson

Artist: Nat Jones

Letterer: Thomas Mauer


Writer: Jose L. Torres

Artist: Chris DiBari

Grayscaler: Evan Cranston

Letterer: Thomas Mauer

"EDGAR ALLAN POE'S ELDORADO" Artist: Curtis Broadway


Writer: Noble Larimer

Penciler: Federico Zumel

Inker/Grayscaler: Jesse Hansen

Letterer: Coleen R. Allen


Writer/Letterer: Sal Cipriano

Artist: Marco Dileonardo


Writer: Steve Orlando

Artist: Lonny Chant

Grayscaler: Nick Ellis

Letterer: Matty Ryan

PINUP by Michael Lark


Writer: C.J. Hurtt

Artist: Bong Abad

Editor: Thomas Mauer

Assistant Editor: Jesse Hansen

Cover Artist: David Mack

Logo Designer: Chris Maze

width="125" height="190" alt="" border="0" align=""> width="125" height="190" alt="" border="0" align="">Art From "Fade: Oblivion"

Coming a year after Katrina, it may seem like "New Orleans" is a tad late arriving on shelves, but Mauer contends that the timing is part of a much greater planning, not an inability to deliver the book on time. "There were some voices early on that we should rush the book to raise money for the victims of Katrina as quickly as possible," he admits. "They were concerned that people would quickly move on and after a while no longer care or be willing to spend money on something Katrina related. In our fast paced information age, that's understandable. The thing is, though, that things aren't back to normal yet on the Gulf Coast. Help is still needed and who knows for how long, actually. So the goal is exactly what you touch: To raise money for the continued Katrina relief effort and to remind people that their help is still needed. And then of course there's the change to show people who don't normally read comics what the medium can do, considering that this anthology will have an appeal outside of the comics reading audience as well just because of its subject matter."

With the release of "HOPE: New Orleans" later this week at Wizard World Chicago, fans will be able to purchase a special limited printing of the book for only $10, at Ronin's Artist Alley tables (#3072-#3076). While Ronin is trying to get the book listed in Previews, and subsequently distributed in comic book shops, fans need not worry: the company is working to make sure that all fans get the book. "Proceeds will go to the Red Cross' continued relief efforts in the area," adds Mauer. "Though the Katrina Relief Fund is closed, they have other projects down there. As mentioned before, Ronin Studios can't and doesn't fit the bill. Printing money comes from creator contributions. Since the money goes to the Red Cross, none of us make anything off this book personally. And that means to finance a print run for the general release of the book that is big enough to make a difference, we need starting capital from other sources. Something like a money drive, sponsorship, individual donations. Sounds a bit silly, considering that we'll donate the money to the Red Cross, but the bigger the initial investment, the higher the return for the Red Cross will be since more people will be able to purchase the book.

"So if there are people out there who have knowledge in organizing money drives and the likes, or if readers of this article would like to pitch in, they can email me at tom.mauer.1977@gmail.com. I'd love to have a list of contributors to this cause at the back of the book (of the general release that is coming in a few months). Raphael Moran, artist of 'Pick up the Phone, Dammit!' would be the first on it because he's already pitched in without being asked. Thanks for that, Raph!

"On a final note, I'd like to mention that the Chicago printing is being done by ComiXpress. Last year, the company had to restructure a few things at the end of con season to address the problems they were having with filling orders and such. This gave them a somewhat bad rap for a while. They have made a complete overhaul of how they work and since they reopened in January, none of the early problems exist anymore. The people at ComiXpress are doing a terrific job and I think people should know that."

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width="125" height="190" alt="" border="0" align=""> width="125" height="190" alt="" border="0" align="">Art From "Pillars"

CBR Staff Writer Arune Singh Contributed To This Story.

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