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Local man launches online auction of comic book art to raise money for cancer cause

NORTH LIBERTY– Next month, dozens of superheroines will unite in the fight against cancer, thanks to one North Liberty resident.
When Jason Gavin learned in December, 2008, that his sister had breast cancer, and then learned of his mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer just two months later, it was a lot for one family to handle.
“At first, I couldn’t believe it. It was a big, strange shock. The whole mortality thing kind of hits you,” said Jason. “I wanted to do something to help.”
As his sister, Marla, and his mother, Bea, underwent their respective treatment regimens, Gavin said he considered ways he could assist.
“I thought, I could donate money here or there, but I wanted to do something more than just get together some money and donate it,” Jason explained. “I started looking at my interests, and thought, ‘What can I do with that?’”
One of Gavin’s biggest interests lies in the colorful pages that chronicle the good deeds of the likes of Captain Marvel, Superman and Wonder Woman.
Gavin collects comic book art, and knows several comic book artists. Gavin decided this interest and these contacts could be a way to help those who helped his family.
Gavin, who has made his home in North Liberty since 2005, became a comic book fan during his grade school years. He bought his first comic book in the fifth grade, and later, dreamed of being a cartoonist while taking high school art classes. In 2003, Gavin started collecting comic book art and has become friends with several artists.
“I started contacting comic book artists via a convention website,” Jason said. “I made about 600 contacts, asking them to donate a sketch of a strong female character, and incorporate the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon or the color pink.”
Some artists didn’t respond, and some declined, saying they were inundated with such donation requests. However, a number of artists were happy to oblige.
“Shockingly, a lot of them were thrilled to do this,” said Jason. “Some of them said their wives told them they would do it, because they knew someone who had breast cancer. It’s surprising how many people are touched by some kind of cancer.”
As of this publication, Gavin had collected over 60 sketches, and expected to receive around 20 more, in time for a 7-day online auction that will commence on eBay on Oct. 12. Some of the artists donating sketches are: Tony Moore, artist for Ghost Rider, Fear Agent and the Walking Dead; Katie Cook, artist for Star Wars the Clone Wars; Chris Samnee, artist for Mighty and Daredevil; Chris Giarrusso, artist for Mini Marvels; and Otis Frampton, artist for Oddly Normal, among many others.
“I was really interested to see what the artists would do with the ribbon, or with the color pink,” Jason said. “Pink is probably not a color they use a lot.”
The sketches of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, She-Hulk, Tigra and the Brainiac’s daughter– just a sampling of the female characters available– depict strong and powerful women sending a strong and powerful message in the fight against breast cancer. Some artists drew the familiar breast cancer ribbon on the character’s costumes, while others cleverly incorporated the ribbons or the color pink into elaborate backgrounds or distinctive props.
“By using the theme of the breast cancer ribbon, it makes the sketches more personal for people who have been touched by cancer,” said Gavin. His wife, Wendy, said it was also a good way to make a unique contribution.
“Jason has a big family, and it was hard to find some way to help that everyone else wasn’t already doing,” she said. “This is something we can do in their honor, and to let (Marla and Bea) know we are thinking of them.”
Marla and Bea are continuing their treatments, and have been doing very well, Jason added. They chose October to conduct the auction because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the opening day of the auction, Oct. 12, is sister Marla’s birthday.
All proceeds from the auction will go to the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
View the donated sketches, and more information about the upcoming auction, at www.marlabeabenefit.com.