On Friday, February 8th, MySpace Comic Books, the CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) and Meltdown Comics are hosting a party commemorating "Y: The Last Man," with special guests Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Joss Whedon. And more than just a celebration of Vaughan and Guerra's epic comic book series, the party is also a fundraiser to benefit the First Amendment work of the CBLDF. CBR News sat down with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein to get more details about the gala event.
Joss Whedon will kick of the event by delivering the keynote speech in Meltdown's Hollywood gallery space. After the speech, guests of honor Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, the creative team behind Vertigo's "Y: The Last Man," will participate in a Q&A. "I realize legends like Stan Lee would laugh at the idea of a party being thrown in honor of a couple of kids finishing a mere sixty issues of a comic," Vaughan said in the official press release. "But Y has always been a very important story to me, so I really look forward to hanging at my favorite local store with many of the readers and creators who made this journey possible, especially when it all supports the essential work of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund."
Brownstein told CBR News that the event was the brainchild of MySpace's Sam Humphries and Meltdown's Matt Gagnon. "They wanted to come up with a new way to celebrate the achievements of comics in a fashion that throws the spotlight on our best creators and causes in a really classy way," Brownstein said. "I have to say, they hit a home run." After laying the groundwork, Humphries contacted Brownstein to see if CBLDF wanted to take part.
"Fortunately we have some experience with comics events, such as our Wrap Party for Strangers in Paradise last May," Brownstein said. "Meltdown has experience with putting on some of the best comics art events in the country. Aand MySpace is masterful at throwing fan-oriented events, so we've been able to pool all of that collective expertise into making 'Y: The Last Party' something completely fresh and exciting."
CBLDF chose to honor "Y: The Last Man" because they feel that that book is a good example of the full potential of free expression in the comics medium. "'Y: The Last Man' is loaded with challenging and pertinent ideas that are presented in innovative and engaging ways," Brownstein said. "Brian and Pia have achieved something very rare by crafting a terrific narrative unlike anything else being done in media and seeing it through to its fruition." Brownstein likened the book to HBO's "The Sopranos," in the sense that the end result of Vaughan and Guerra's 60-issue epic is a successful execution of their original creative vision. "That's a victory worth celebrating for free expression at large and for comics in particular."
The reasons for holding the party in L.A. were several fold. "MySpace is based out of Beverly Hills, which puts them right at the heart of LA's media elite," Brownstein said. "So when you pair MySpace Comic Books and its position as the center of the one of the largest online comics communities and MySpace's physical proximity to the LA media world, you have an unbeatable ability to reach out to a tremendous range of people." Over and above all of that, Brownstein thought that Meltdown would be the perfect venue for such an event. CBLDF is based out of New York, and hosts many a comics event in their home town, but Brownstein is committed to making the Fund more active other cities around the country.
Brownstein said that one of the party's greatest achievements has been the industry-wide teamwork that has made the event possible. "MySpace Comic Books is a powerful and vibrant community of people who are passionate about our field, and their commitment to this event underscores how that shared passion can accomplish great things," Brownstein said. Further, the event is being sponsored not only by Vertigo, the company that publishes "Y: The Last Man," but also by competitors Dark Horse, Image, and Top Cow. "These factors really showcase a core value for the Fund, which is to be a big umbrella under which we all stand together in support of the comics medium."
If the event sells out (and Brownstein has every expectation that it will), it will generate $8,750 for the CBLDF. "In wartime, that's a day at trial for our legal team," Brownstein said. "Or alternatively, a legal brief arguing a motion in a case. In peacetime, that's a portion of an education initiative that helps prevent a case." Either way, it helps to fund the expensive work of defending comics' First Amendment rights.
Specifically, the funds raised by the party will contribute to keeping comic book creator Gordon Lee from spending up to two years in prison for allegedly distributing a comic book factually showing Picasso in the nude. The CBLDF has already incurred $100,000 in expenses for the three year long case. The money will help CBLDF stand up to the prosecutors who continue to deny Gordon Lee his day in court, and hopefully help to stave off the dangerous precedent that would be set for retailers if Lee were to be found guilty.
"What the Fund does on behalf of comics is stand up for the people who can't afford to stand up to the legal bullies coming after them," Brownstein said. "Initiatives like Y: The Last Party allow us to continue to perform the important work that comics has been counting on us to accomplish since we started over twenty years ago. Thankfully, the support of the community we're seeing at this event and others like it are keeping us strong enough to continue the fight."
Admission to Y: The Last Party will be strictly limited to 140 people, and tickets will be available at CBLDF's MySpace profile. VIP tickets are priced at $100 each, and grant admission to the reception before the event. There are only 70 VIP tickets available, and all VIP ticket holders will receive a limited edition print of brand new artwork by Guerra, signed by both Guerra and Vaughan. 70 additional "standing room only" general admission tickets will be available on the day of the event on a first come, first served basis for $25 apiece.