Comic book author Marc Andreyko was just going to bed late Saturday, June 11, 2016, when he heard there had been a shooting at a nightclub in Orlando.
When he woke up the next morning, he was crushed by the news. 49 people were dead, and dozens more had been injured in an attack on Florida's LGBTQ community.
"I was horrified and sickened," says Andreyko over email. "As a gay man who was a teen during the AIDS crisis, I have seen far too much death and hatred and ambivalence toward it. Orlando hit me hard and I was flooded with the feelings of powerlessness I felt back then."
An accomplished comic book writer and seasoned storyteller, Andreyko knew that with his great power came the great responsibility to channel his feelings into something productive. Within eight hours, he announced on Facebook that he would be embarking on a new project in remembrance of the victims.
Together with dozens of artists, he put together a massive comic anthology about a single subject: love.
The book, appropriately titled "Love Is Love," is a massive collaboration between comic book writers, artists, and familiar faces, from Patton Oswalt to J.K. Rowling to comic book legends like artist Jim Lee.
Each contributed a single page of artwork, story, or dedication to the 144-page tome, and all sale proceeds will go to Equality Florida, an organization that supports the LGBTQ community in Florida.
.@marcandreyko talks LOVE IS LOVE (in stores today) with Word Balloon in this podcast interview, tune in and listen… https://t.co/8RRxaWjdMt— IDW Publishing (@IDW Publishing)1482951612.0
The project even brought together competing publishers so that characters like Superman, Harry Potter, and the cast of Archie could appear in the book together despite exclusive contracts — all in the name of charity and goodwill.
"I think art can always make a difference," Andreyko says.
He knows that artists and storytellers have an important part to play in fostering conversations and a unique ability to reach people.
Comic books in particular have played a key role in media representation. Dozens of famous and recognizable characters have had LGBTQ storylines in recent years, including Batwoman, who's been openly gay since 2006 and whom Andreyko wrote for in 2013.
"[Art] can make the tough and political more human and emotionally connected, and with the metaphors of genre, it can make people see things in a new way," Andreyko says.
Compiling the anthology was a long and arduous process, but Andreyko says that seeing the artwork every day kept him motivated.
"When things got emotionally tough or frustrating, all the art, the hard work, the expressions of love from so many busy, talented and generous folks, well, that was all I needed to keep moving forward," Andreyko says.