How you can help Robert L. Washington III get the burial he deserves.
One of tale telling signs of our morality is watching the people that were behind the high-water marks of our hobbies pass on. Last week, Robert L. Washington III joined that all too long list after succumbing to a series of Heart Attacks at the age of 47. Despite not having the most prolific career, Mr. Washington's contributions to the Industry cannot be ignored, as he was just as important to the creation of Virgil Hawkins (a.k.a Static) as Dwayne McDuffie was. Beyond that milestone, Washington also worked on such titles like "Extreme Justice", "When Worlds' Collide" and "Shadow Cabinet." However, this article isn't being written to eulogize a man who received much better tributes last week, but to bring awareness to a problem you can help solve.
As for the problem itself, like many creators after the Mid-90' implosion of the Industry, Washington could not find work in the Industry, which led to extended series of hard times where he find himself homeless on one than more occasion. Without an ability to save money, Mr. Washington could be buried under less than ideal (to put it lightly) circumstances. Fortunately, Craig Hicks (a friend of his) made people aware of the situation on various message boards and what you and I can do to help.
Here is what Mr. Hicks said directly:
I went to school with Robert Washington in the Detroit area from 5th to 8th grade. Like many of Robert's school friends, and sadly, his family, I had not been in touch with him for many years. But when I heard about his death and learned more about his financial and family situation, I immediately became concerned that his remains might end up on Hart Island. The island is New York City's location for indigent burials. The dead here are buried in pine coffins, stacked in unmarked trenches, by Riker's Island inmates. There are no services or ceremonies.
A small group of Robert's former classmates and colleagues have joined forces to ensure this doesn't happen. We've been in touch with the city medical examiner's office and after some serious sleuthing made contact with one of his relatives. And we've started raising funds to pay for a modest funeral.
If you knew Robert, were a fan of his work or just are interested in lending a hand, here's how you can help.
The Hero Initiative — a not-for-profit, 503(c) charitable organization that helps comic book creators in need — has agreed to act as our vehicle for contributing to Robert's funeral arrangements.
The money we contribute goes to the Hero Initiative, but can be directed toward specific purposes, in this case Robert's funeral. Any money over and above the cost of the funeral will be applied in Robert's name toward helping other comic book creators make ends meet.
To donate, go to the Hero Initiative home page (www.heroinitiative.org) and click the yellow "Donate" button at the top right. This will take you to PayPal, where you can login and make your contribution.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you click the button that says "add special instructions to seller" and type "Robert Washington" before you submit your donation.
Whether you contribute or not, thanks for taking time to read about our effort to honor Robert.
In conclusion, I hope that we as a community are able to answer the call in this time of need. As a fan of this medium, I know all too well how passionate we can be when it comes to expressing our views about the stories being told. However, we cannot lose sight of the people who do the necessary work to give us all of those untold hours of entertainment. If the Industry cannot provide for everyone that works inside of it's purview, then it is up to us to make sure as few people fall through the cracks as possible. Even the minium contribution will help to make sure that Mr. Washington gets a 10th of what we all deserve when our time on this world is over.
Thank you for your time, and thank you for memories Mr. Washington.
In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).
Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $500,000 to over 50 comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.
The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.
Written or Contributed by: Linwood Earl Knight