Our November 7th cover story, “Tragic Tale,” is about comic book writer Bill Mantlo, and how he was nearly killed in a hit-and-run accident, and how his transit through the health insurance system has left him a broken man, beyond much hope of care. Since we published this story, it quickly became the most widely-read article in the history of National Underwriter Life & Health, generating intense interest not just from across the insurance industry, but from the comic book enthusiast community as well, which has been vocal in its thoughts about Bill’s condition.
We had hoped to get such a conversation going when we published this story. What we did not expect, however, was the outpouring of support being shown by Bill’s fans and the people who knew him to raise money for Bill’s care. Already, in reaction to the story a Facebook group – Rom’s Spaceknights to Benefit Bill Mantlo – has arisen to get some of Bill’s work reprinted in order to raise money, and numerous readers have themselves either sent or pledged to send personal money to Mike Mantlo, Bill’s brother and legal guardian, so he might get basic comforts for Bill, such as clothing, better food, haircuts…the kind of stuff the rest of us take for granted. This is all in addition to Corinna Mantlo’s own efforts to raise awareness of her father’s condition, and ultimately to create a foundation in his name, over at the Bill Mantlo Project.
The most recent, and most high-profile effort on this yet, though, has come from Greg Pak, a prominent comic book writer who recently finished a run on The Incredible Hulk. On the back cover of the final issue, he dedicated the book to Bill, who himself had a long and influential run writing for the Hulk. Greg was kind enough to mention our story on Bill Mantlo, and is using his own considerable influence to renew the call to help Bill through private donations.
When you write a story like this, you don’t want to get too personally involved in it, but I have been dumbstruck by the reaction to this, and I really hope that this wave of support for Bill does not crest any time soon. I know there are many in the life and health industry, whether they be agents, brokers or carriers, who give generously to many charitable causes. I hope that as you give this year to those in need, please spare a thought – and some coin – for Bill Mantlo. I know I will.
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics