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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Children in northern Israel are to receive support from some of America's most famous superheroes - or at least the artists who created them. Mahrwood Press, a publishing company with offices in Florida and Jerusalem, has initiated the compilation of an anthology, Balm in Gilead, featuring short stories and illustrations that will be sold in support of children in northern Israel affected during the recent war.
"I had been contacted by an American Jewish publisher to do an insert to solicit funds for children in the North, but I wanted to do something bigger, something in the US," said Eric Mahr, Mahrwood's president, who enlisted for the project the help of artists including Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman and The Fantastic Four, and Neal Adams, a leading contemporary comic artist most famous for his work on the Batman and X-Men series. Other participants include Marv Wolfman, the creator of Blade, Robert Silverberg, a popular science fiction writer, and Dave Cockrum, a co-creator of the X-Men series.
Clifford Meth, a well-known writer and editor in the comic book and science fiction world, will serve as the project's editor.
Meth said he had enjoyed similar past work on charity projects "because you don't have to worry about a budget when dealing with top artists."
He's focused his energy this time on finding writers and illustrators for the anthology, and said "we are pleased and proud that some of the most respected people in comics and literature have stepped forward to join this project."
Adams, the Batman artist, spoke about his motivation for participating in the charity project. "As a comic book artist, there is a certain guilt factor because we are paid money to draw pictures ... When an opportunity to contribute to society arises, we take it up," he said.
Adams, who is not Jewish, said he has a special affinity for Israel because "our association to Israel as Americans is very strong. It's a first-string relationship."
Adams said he has not yet decided what he'll draw for the anthology, but that "it will have to do with children and superheroes. I love children and I love superheroes, and there is a certain sense of pleasure in a project like this."
The content of the book will be appropriate for teens, though not geared only toward that age group or those who hold specific political views. "The content will be apolitical.It's a feel good book," Mahr said.
His hope is to raise between $15,000 and $20,000 through sales, with the majority of the funds to be channeled to Safed non-profit Lev U'Neshama. The organization focuses on feeding, clothing and housing children in the North.
The anthology will appear in booksellers' catalogues starting in October, while printing is expected to begin in February. The book will be soft cover, with a special edition of 300 to 500 signed hard copies as well. Mahr said he may publish a Hebrew version of the compilation depending on the success of the English one.
Balm of Gilead will be available in both Israel and the United States.