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By now, many of you reading this article know the convention routine. Hit the sales floor, take in some panels, chat with your favorite creators, go relax in the bar, and then repeat the cycle on the next day. Guess what? If you do that, you might just miss the most important panel of Wizard World Chicago this weekend, if not the entire convention year. As you probably know, popular writer Jeph Loeb ("Batman," WB's "Smallville," "Wolverine" & more) lost his son in June of 2005, and has set up a charity in his name, to provide $10,000 for one student at Sam's high school who best embodies Sam's sterling qualities. The young Loeb plotted "Superman/Batman" #26, which he was set to then script till he passed away, and the issue was finished by his Father and an all-star cast of creators.
This Saturday, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in the Alex Toth room, attendees of Wizard World Chicago will be able to bid on some amazing art from those artists, who range from Jim Lee to Mike Kunkel, as well as a special third unused cover by superstar artist Michael Turner. With the opportunity to bid on ten signed copies of "Superman/Batman" #26 (each signed by all 26 creators involved), and beautiful co-host Erica Durance (Lois Lane of "Smallville") making her only convention appearance, there's no reason not to be involved in this historic auction. Can't attend the convention? You can bid online! Credit cards are accepted! See, you've got no excuse! To learn more about this event, CBR News spoke with Jeph Loeb, who spoke with use from the set of the upcoming NBC show "Heroes," and was excited to talk all things charity.
"I'll be happy with whatever we get," said Loeb of what he'd like to raise through this event. "Everyone has been so incredibly generous. We've already raised, without the sale of the artwork and the royalties from DC, $60,000. The goal is to try and reach $100,000 so that we can do this for 10 years. Now, in fact, we've given out one award, so the goal is actually to reach $90,000. I think that's not only possible, but probable given that over at Marvel the 'Onslaught Reborn' project that I'm doing with Rob Liefeld came with a substantial donation from Marvel which will, I would say, easily put us over the top."
There's a specific piece that Loeb himself plans to bid on, but don't expect him to share that with you till the big day. "Oh, I'm not going to tell you that because I'm bidding!" he laughed. "I'm not kidding! There's a piece I have in mind and I'm going to bid for it."
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Of course, this means that Loeb is going to have to bid on every piece to throw off fans, doesn't it? The scribe replied, "Or, I'll be the guy who gets it for 50 bucks! [laughs] I think what makes this incredibly unique is that this will be the worlds greatest auction that's done for all the wrong reasons. The loss of my son is not anything that anyone should have had to experience and, having lost a child, I belong to a club no one wants to belong to."
There's been a huge outpouring of support for Loeb, not just because of his loss, but because of how he's transformed it into something incredibly powerful. "The idea behind the scholarship fund is to continue Sam's memory by donating $10,000 to a single student at his high school, North Hollywood High School Magnet Program," explained the "Ultimates" writer. "That student is chosen not for any academic reason and you can't apply for this. We talk with four teachers who knew Sam very well and the qualities we're looking for in the person we're giving the award to is they need to be brilliant, they need to funny and they need to have a healthy disrespect for authority, which is what Sam was.
"We've given out the award once thus far. It was a tremendously exciting and bitter sweet evening because it was given to a member of Sam's graduating class – Sam would have graduated this year. So, we knew the girl.
"The idea is when you get the $10,000 dollars, there are no strings attached to the money. If what you want to do is throw a big party before you go off to college or if you want to pay your tuition or if you want to buy a car, terrific. The idea is that you'll go to school and at some point you'll tell someone about this money that you got and about this boy that you knew and what happened to him. That really is the message of Sam's comic that as long as we continue to tell stories about people, they live on. Everyone has a Sam story and you should continue to tell them. The auction is another extension of that – people will continue to talk about the auction for years to come whether it's about the idiot I make of myself or the fun I have with Erica Durance ["Smallville's" Lois Lane] who's making her only con appearance at the auction and I think she'll be great to play off of because she's both funny and, in case anyone hasn't noticed, sexy."
Unlike other charity auctions, the combination of artists attending this Saturday panel is unique, ranging from mainstream favorites to indy darlings. There truly isn't another comic book charity event in recent memory that has such a diverse line up. "It's an amazing group of artists," Loeb agreed. "There's stuff there you won't find anywhere else. I don't know that you'll ever see another Joe Madureira drawing of Robin, maybe ever. He's only ever done a total of four pages in the DCU entirely. I don't know that you're going to get an Arthur Adams page because Arthur's pages often sell well before they ever seen print. There are three Michael Turner covers and it's very rare for that kind of thing to be available. And how sweet is that double page spread from Jim Lee? I don't think there's a single bad page. They all have Robin or Superboy or both of them on the page, so there's no page where Perry White is talking to a toilet like every artist gets stuck with at some time. By the same token, you're also buying a little bit of history. This is a book that will be broken up and sold a lot of different ways and a lot of people are going to have a chance to get a piece of it.
"From a business perspective, the one point I really want to get across is absentee ballots are possible – you just need to send them to email@example.com. They'll be taken down and obviously you can't bid up, you make a bid and hopefully yours will be the high bid. Secondly, your donation to the fund is tax deductible. I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend $5000 on a piece of artwork than to give it to my accountant. And we're trying to make this as simple as possible for people – we are accepting credit cards there and the artwork will all be at the auction. You don't have to wait until someone ships it to you. I'm bringing the whole book with me."
Now that Loeb will be in a position to help lots of students, he's got the option to present the award to more than one student a year or simply continue as is for the next decade. "That's what my Grandfather used to call a high class problem!" joked the writer.
Once again, if you're interested in seeing a full gallery of the art, you can visit the official website, and then bid online if the trek to Chicago isn't in your plans. There's a bit of something for everyone at this event and we can say that a certain CBR Executive Producer wants…well, that'd be telling. You'll have to bid on some art this Saturday and find out.
Staff Writer Arune Singh Contributed To This Story.