April 26, 2011 -Northwest Press, a publisher of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender graphic novels and comics, is raising funds on the website Kickstarter to produce an anti-bullying comic book for youth and teachers’ groups. The Power Within tells the story of a junior high schooler who imagines himself as a superhero to deal with his constant harassment at school. The project is written by Charles “Zan” Christensen and drawn by Mark Brill, and features bonus material by Dan Parent (creator of Archie Comics’ first openly gay character, Kevin Keller), Phil Jimenez (Wonder Woman, New X-Men), Gail Simone (Secret Six, Wonder Woman), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), Andy Mangels (Gay Comics), Donna Barr (The Desert Peach), and others.
The project was conceived in October 2010 for 24 Hour Comics Day, an international event where comics creators attempt to produce a complete comic book in a single day. The previous month, there were numerous, high-profile news reports of gay teen suicides all over the U.S., prompting a public outcry and the creation of the It Gets Better Project to combat LGBT teen isolation and bullying. Christensen and Brill decided to tackle the topic in their book and by the end of the event, they had completed a rough version of the story.
Brill continued to polish the artwork, and the book was completed and published in a limited run in March 2011, selling at comic book conventions in Seattle and Chicago. In order to mass-produce the book and provide free copies to gay-straight alliances and other youth groups, Christensen sought the participation of some high profile artists and writers for bonus features and began a fundraising effort to cover printing and shipping costs. In six days, the project reached a third of its funding goal; The Power Within must receive a minimum of $3000 in pledges on Kickstarter by March 20th in order to be funded.
(More information about the book, donation incentives, and contact information at Graphic Policy.)