Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Serious Interlude: 4 Color Charity

I know I have mentioned this a few times here, but today I want to call your attention to the just-finished "Invisible Children" arc in The Phantom, published by Moonstone. Now, normally, a story about The Ghost Who Walks bringing a cruel jungle warlord to justice is more than enough to get me excited. But this is something much more than just a 4 Color slugfest.

The country of Uganda has seen more than it's fair share of hardship and tragedy over the past few decades. Included in that is the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), an insurgent group opposed to the government whose tactics include kidnapping and brainwashing children to become soldiers to their cause. War sucks no matter how you approach it, but the forced enlistment of children -- taking their childhood and replacing it with terror and murder -- sickens me.

And what sickens me more is that I didn't even really know about it.

Yeah, I think I was vaguely aware of the idea of the "child soldiers" fighting in the more unstable parts of Africa. But I never gave it any thought because, let's face it, me and everyone I love are a long way away from there, and I lead a comfortable life filled with convenience and privledge. It's terrible, but the challenges of day-to-day life encapsulates the vast majority of us in our own little world, with our own little sphere which we exist in. Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to think about the rest of the world. And sometimes, all it takes is a little whisper in your ear.

A few months back, I was reading The Phantom #16, a done-in-one story about a young woman who's father was befriended by the Phantom many years earlier who is now doing missionary work in Africa. It is through her that we are introduced to the tyrant Him, who believes himself to be a direct descendant of Jesus Christ, and who carries out a campaign of terror against all of the villages in his reach, kidnapping and enslaving the children. Needless to say, The Ghost Who Walks is not amused by this sort of behavior. So, upon reading it, I thought to myself that this was a great setup for a storyline, and that it would be fun to read. I went online to find out some info about #17, when I found a few interviews and articles, including this one, and then things changed.

The long and short of it: For every "B" cover purchased of The Phantom #17-19, Moonstone is going to make a donation to Invisivle Children, a group dedicated to improving the quality of life for children in war torn areas in Africa through education and economic opportunity. This is a grassroots, on-the-ground type of organization; they seem pretty up and up from what I have read about them.

So go to your local comics retailer and see if they have any of these issues in stock. If not, ask them to order it for you, and ask for the "B" cover like I did. Not only will you get a two-fisted jungle adventure story, but you'll get the chance to say that you did a little bit to help, which is more than most can attest to.

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