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

Thu, July 3rd, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

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!

"This is unprecedented," raves Fund Director Charles

Brownstein. "Between Jim's original auction and Chuck's

subsequent support, this signing has proved to be the among the most

successful one-day benefits in Fund history. In fact, it's

probably the most successful fundraising signing in comics

history!"

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. Along

the 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.

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 Jim

Lee's neck which he promptly removed and began drawing on a

picture 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 capably

drew his own version of Batman. "That's pretty good," Lee

said. "Just make sure you have all the proper trademark and

copyright information on there," he joked.

If you couldn't make it to the signing there are still some

artifacts 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 Director

Charles 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 followed

Jim 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 of

a 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 my

mind 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.

CBR News

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