The Inspiration of Fictional Heroes by Siike Donnelly

Siike Donnelly writes for Bleeding Cool at WonderCon

Looking over my articles at Bleeding Cool, I noticed I don’t get a lot of hits. I understand why to be honest; I write about charity stuff, how comic books can inspire us to take action in our world, and I’m usually positive and upbeat. It’s annoying to a degree I’m sure, and clearly, boring to the masses.

I don’t take it personally, because I truly believe that out of the numerous people that click links to Bleeding Cool, at least a few give mine a shot, and maybe one or two hear the messages I try to throw out there. I get it, most can’t relate to my perception of the world. In 2010, my heart stopped, my brain shut down, and for a minute I was gone. Let that sink in for a moment. Gone, almost for good. My dreams of being a writer unfulfilled, falling in love with someone and raising a family unattainable, with most people, even close friends, that wouldn’t have shown up to my funeral because of how I treated them in the past. I wouldn’t say I was a bad person… just misguided, cynical; lost. I grew up with an abusive father, numerous health issues, and a family that would rather be at each other’s throats on who to blame for a loved one’s death than bury the past and move on in peace.

When I woke up in that hospital, speech pattern a mess, the ability to walk again a pipe dream, memories scattered like a freshly opened puzzle box, and no family by my side, I had time to think. As I began putting the pieces together, I didn’t focus on the bad. How could I? I was alive when I personally felt I shouldn’t have been, especially when someone very special and amazing, my Aunt Joan, had just passed away a week after giving birth to her son. Life is never fair, even optimists and pessimists would agree on that.

Where am I going with this? I honestly don’t know. I guess I want you all to actually know who I am. To know that besides suffering from seizures, migraines, nose bleeds, black outs, anxiety, and vertigo, I was never given a free ride at any point in my life; and some days I wonder where I even get the strength to stand at all.

Then I think about what I want out of this second chance at life. For those who want to know how far I’ve progressed, I was once getting shots in my neck, going to physical therapy multiple days a week, and hunching when I walked the floors of San Diego Comic-Con last year. I met Dan Didio for the first time on that Con floor and I could barely lift my head to look him in the eye. I had my moments when I could stand tall, sound coherent when I talked, but mostly I was in pain. I’ve gotten even better at hiding it now, but then, I had some messy moments. Still that trip was a defining moment in my new life. I saw, first hand, how my story affected even the seemingly coldest of hearts. I found my strength. After seeing John Cunningham, Bob Wayne, and Dan Didio in person again this week at WonderCon, I’m sure even they could swear they were talking to a new man. Progress built on the strength and inspiration that I find in the fictional characters I love, and the creative minds that take them to new heights.

From that day in San Diego forward, as part of my mission on making my second chance count for something good, I’ve been involved with many charities, simply as a donator. From Cancer Research, Aneurysm Research, and the Hero Initiative (which I donated nearly $500 to at MegaCon in Orlando) to helping out at homeless soup kitchens during the holidays and donating $100 to We Can Be Heroes, I’m proud to say I’ve also inspired people, friends, and co-workers to donate as well.

I feel that what DC Entertainment is doing, in association with Save the Children, MercyCorps, and the International Rescue Committee, is something worth a bit of our time, and a small portion of our wallets. www.wecanbeheroes.org is the site. If you read DC Comics, you’ve seen the ads inside the books and across the top of the covers. If you’re at WonderCon this weekend, no doubt you’ve seen the really cool shirts that the DC Booth Members are wearing. DC is doing a big push to help us get involved, making it as easy now as a text message. By texting “HEROES” to 80888, you can donate a few dollars that will help provide food, water, and medical supplies to people that desperately need it.

Over the past few weeks, as DC’s push on this has grown, I’ve seen so many people on Facebook, Twitter, etc, ask questions like “Why not help the homeless here? Why not get involved with Cancer Research? Why not help the domestic problems before trying to save a continent, (not country geniuses) that is too far gone?” Is there an ounce of merit to these questions? Sure. But they usually come from the mouths of people that don’t do anything for the homeless here in the states other than push them out of their stores or call the police on them when they babble too loudly. These are the people that look for reasons to not help any ONE thing, which is why they help nothing.

I have a homeless friend named Carl. I give him change and talk with him on a weekly basis. Once I helped him get cleaned up a bit, bought him a shirt and some shoes at Goodwill, took him to a movie and bought him lunch. Most of you may think I’m weird for doing that. Carl said he hadn’t felt that much a part of society in a long time. He told me no one had ever done that before. Now, I know not every homeless person can be reached in the way I reached Carl. Yet, we don’t know if we don’t try.

As I walked the floor of WonderCon today with my friend Natale, I closely observed my fellow nerds and their behavior. As we stood in line, I saw people drop things and others kneel down to help them pick it up. I witnessed doors being held open for one another and people apologizing when they accidentally bumped into someone. Everywhere I looked, no matter how small or grand an act, I saw kindness and courtesy. It’s my belief that nerds, knowing what it’s like to be on the outside, and even down on their luck at times, want to come together and help; not just each other here at home, but others that need it more.

So here’s my question to the cynical comic book readers: Why even read superhero comics if you aren’t going to take the most fundamental messages from their pages? Good triumphs over evil, and even the smallest of kind acts can make a massive difference.

DC pushing We Can Be Heroes at this Convention proved this isn’t just come gimmick for them. It’s a way for all of us to take a page from the heroes we read about on a monthly basis. Why is it so weird to want to help our fellow man? Are we so self absorbed that the mere concept of it seems alien to us?

I’m going to start wrapping this up by talking about the We Can Be Heroes trailer that was shown before Superman vs The Elite on Friday night at WonderCon. The room was full of fans eager to see a (hopefully great) Superman story, which let’s face it fans, it’s been a while since we’ve gotten one. This room, most of which had never heard of We Can Be Heroes till that very moment, watched the trailer that runs on their homepage at www.wecanbeheroes.org. I looked around and saw its affect. I felt the energy in the crowd near me. It was positive.

Afterwards, we saw a film that was arguably my favorite of the DC Animated features. We saw Superman face a challenge we ALL face every single day. He faced morality. Is it right to kill if it’s against someone society deems evil? Is that justice? Should we look for the good in each of us instead of the negative that sometimes comes out? Do we give up on each other? The film, to me, sent a very clear message that most of us are inherently good at heart, and by doing something against that very nature is truly ugly and far beneath us.

I’m not going to get all Grant Morrison or metaphysical on you and talk about what it “feels” like to die. The idea of trying to type that actually scares me to my very core. What I will say is don’t let your life get to my point before making a difference. Learn from me, please. Don’t let yourself be subjected to a near-death experience, or let the loss of a loved one be what jolts you into doing something good. Do it before those things. Far, far before them. Start today.

You don’t want to donate to We Can Be Heroes? Pick something else. Help the homeless in your city in some way. Visit people at the hospital, which is something I do at times now. You’d be surprised what just listening to someone who may not have friends or family by their side could do for their spirits. If you DO want to help Africa in some way, you could always go to www.thehungersite.com and simply click a button at the top of the page. That ‘click’ acts as a hit for the site, which turns to money, which goes to the Horn of Africa as well.

And… if you want to take your donation a step further, help me do something to fill my day. Without the daily routine of a job I’ve been suffering far more attacks recently, which have been scaring the hell out of my dog Echo. I’m creating a piece of art, my first since surviving my aneurysm. Over 50 people that have donated to We Can Be Heroes have sent me an email at siikedonnelly@gmail.com with their name and the amount of their donation. Those two simple facts are all that’s required. I’ve printed out those receipts and began constructing a canvas with them, in the shape of Africa, with the goal to paint something DC related over it.

I created a Facebook Event for this at www.facebook.com/events/282621058466438/. If you want to join the event and leave your name and donation there as well, I will still add you to the painting. And remember, for every donation, DC Entertainment matches it 100%. A dollar becomes two, just like that. Yes, I’ve gotten donation info from people that gave $1 and trust me; it goes much further than anything we could spend it on.

Thanks for getting to know me and letting me talk about my deepest passion. Please help me donate to a great cause. It’s a never ending battle to continue doing what’s right, which is why we need each other in order to fight that battle.

Siike Donnelly

@ExplodingBullet

www.blogtalkradio.com/nerdnation

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.