The webcomics blog about webcomics

Thinking Of Others

A couple of the things I wanted to point you to today may make little or no sense to those of you reading from outside the United States. As some of you may know, I spend a lot of my free time as an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic, riding with my town’s volunteer Emergency Medical Services. We’re entirely supported by community donations and grants and don’t charge for our services (but economic realities and falling levels of support will likely cause us to change that policy, and soon).

On numerous occasions, I’ve dealt with patients that found themselves behind the curve on their ability to afford care. In some cases, they were prescribed medication for conditions but weren’t taking them; in other cases, they were skipping appointments with doctors; once or twice they didn’t even want to call us because they didn’t know we wouldn’t send them a bill. In each of these cases, the anxiety was caused by the prospect of paying hundreds to thousands of dollars to deal with an immediate situation. In each of these cases, after dropping the patient at the local Emergency Department, I spent an hour muttering under my breath about how a decent level of healthcare is a goddamn human right.

But it can get so much worse.

Today I have to share not one, but two stories of [web-]comics related efforts to help people with the bills they’ve incurred because of this bitched-up system of healthcare delivery that we live with because taking care of people is apparently an unforgivable sin against capitalism. Two people made the mistake of getting cancer and not immediately rolling over to die, and as a result are tens of thousands of dollars in debt (side note for those of you following the global economic situation: in the US, people that lose their houses due to default — two-thirds of them trace the cause to medical expenditures). So give ’em a good read and do what you can, okay?

  • From the Cancer Sucks department, Howard Tayler (my evil twin) is putting the printer proof for his latest book on the auction block, with the proceeds going to the medical bills of his friend Jake Black, who is US$25,000 in the hole from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There’s five days to go in the auction as of this writing, and it’s clear that there’s still plenty of room for the bids to go higher. Tayler’s also got three pieces of original art up for auction in the same timeframe, which you should also check out.
  • And in the Cancer Sucks Redux department, there’s the story of comics colorist Moose Baumann; I’ll be honest, I’m not familiar with his work at all, but that doesn’t matter when you learn of the particular circumstances in this case:

    A few years back my wife had breast cancer. She had chemo and a partial mastectomy, and we thought things were good. A year later we found out that it had spread, and she went in for more chemo and surgery. Several months prior she had lost her job and her insurance, and because of her “prior condition” she no one else would insure her. So we’ve been working on paying off the full cost of her medical bills for the past two years, just north of $90 grand.

    Right now work is scarce and money is super tight, and on June 1st it looks like we may lose our home because of all of this. I’m trying to sell some prints of my work online to make some quick cash, and hopefully keep my home. I’m reluctant to ask for help, it’s embarrassing, but I’m at the end of my rope. [empahsis added]

    The prints in question are $20 a pop; if you read comics, there’s probably something over there you’ll like. On a typical day, a few thousand people read this site as I blather on about things that — whatever objective importance they may possess — catch my fancy. I’m asking you, please, look over Baumann’s offerings and if something catches your eye, help his family out. Thanks.

  • Let’s end on a up note if we can, hey? I got an email yesterday that I wanted to mention. We at Fleen have, from time to time, had the occasion to share with you stories of webcomic scrapers, and our opinion that a lot of grief could be avoided if only the developers of webcomics collector apps/pages would let the creators know of their intent and ask permission to include them. Here’s the important part of the missive in question:

    I’d like to include a link to Fleen in an iPad app I’m working on. It’s a webcomic reading tool, and to give the users a complete experience we’re including a list of good blogs that they can read to find new & quality webcomics.

    It is just a link, so asking about it might come off as not being worth the bother. But I’m trying to make an app that really respects the comic artists as well: all the comics are shown as on the webpage, it uses the same browsing software on the iPad as anything else, so it doesn’t strip ads or insert ads or generally mess around with the comics. Only comic artists that agree to be featured will be in our featured comics listing. We’re also working on some ways to encourage support, like a link in the menu that goes right to the store or donation pages for the comics.

    This is how you do it, people. Kudos to developer Steven Masuch for taking the high road, and when his app is generally available, would somebody with an Apple fondleslab¹ like to review it for us? We at Fleen don’t have one.

¹ The term fondleslab was coined by the brilliantly snarky hacks at El Reg. Much respect.

Firstly I have to say to you you’re writing and the service you provide to the comics community and the public is fabulous. Being that I am in a tight stretch right now I cannot donate but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people step forward. I’ve been reading your site for a long time and it is keeping me alive and I thank you and wish health and happiness to you and your family.

Thanks for bringing these causes out!!! The healthcare industry feels like it is at an all-time low; I work with people who are fully covered, have surgery and then end up having to pay tens of thousands of dollars because somebody along the line wasn’t in their plan. I have had three close friends in the past year have to deal with this. What is wrong with us???!!!

I hope Howard Taylor, Moose Baumann and his wife get some love, money and support from the comics community!!! Unfortunately these stories are all too common within the comics community.

I’ll volunteer my fondleslab for testing if and when Steven’s app comes out.

[…] iApps for iDevices, I mentioned back in May about a gent named Steven Mausch who was building a webcomics reading app in the iPad that didn’t scrape or steal content from creators. Mausch writes to let us know […]

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