The world of comic books is full of supernatural heroes, and now frontline workers have finally gotten their due with a new collection. Get Us PPE is excited to announce the release of Heroes Need Masks, an anthology of comics honoring frontline workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Heroes Need Masks was the brainchild of Eddy Hedington of Grit City Comics, an indie comic book publisher out of Tacoma, Washington.
The collection was made available through a now-closed Kickstarter campaign, with the majority of proceeds donated to Get Us PPE, but you can contact Grit City to purchase your own copy. Below is a glimpse of some of the art in Heroes Need Masks. Get Us PPE writer Anna Dai-Liu wrote the book’s foreword, which follows:
Heroes Need Masks: Foreword by Anna Dai-Liu
These days, if you’re brave enough to leave your house and walk out in the streets, rather than seeing a sea of faces, you’re confronted with a sea of masks, nothing but pairs of eyes peeping out above the top edge. All kinds of masks, from the thin surgical ones to circular N95s to brightly patterned cloth coverings that have become the latest fashion trend.
Masks have become part of our everyday lives now. Just as you have to remember your car keys in the morning, you have to remember to bring your mask too. And maybe a face shield, or gloves, goggles, depending on where you’re going. You see doctors and nurses on the TV, too, wearing gowns, booties, and respirators as they treat hospital patients. All of these things are known as personal protective equipment (PPE), and in this time of COVID-19, it’s imperative that not only do we protect ourselves but also others on that off chance that we may be sick – and we do that by wearing masks, by wearing PPE.
From the beginning of this pandemic, the U.S. has been facing a constant PPE shortage, and even now, months later in September, the frontline workers in our healthcare and social welfare systems still haven’t had their needs met; this reopening only continues to reveal the national struggle to locate, purchase, and send PPE to those who need it. Back in March, this problem first became apparent as COVID-19 patients began rolling into hospitals in droves and healthcare facilities realized they didn’t have enough PPE. Healthcare workers started reusing disposable N95s that are meant to be changed between patients, sometimes for weeks at a time. People at the forefront of the sudden PPE crisis, including Dr. Esther Choo, began tweeting a simple, clear, and direct hashtag: #GetMePPE.
As the hashtag began to catch fire with healthcare workers across the US, Dr. Choo and a group of several other doctors (including Drs. Val Griffeth, Megan Ranney, Emmy Betz, Seth Trueger, Jeremy Faust, Howard Fischer, and many more incredible medical professionals and students) drafted an open letter calling for government intervention in this PPE shortage and invocation of the Defense Production Act, a Korean-War-era piece of legislation that was originally designed to compel companies to prioritize producing essential war materials. Now, it could mobilize companies to manufacture PPE. Within days, the petition was live and spreading quickly, but even as public awareness of this crisis grew, it was clear more action was necessary and so Dr. Shuhan He proposed a channel through which people could donate PPE that they had and also through which healthcare workers in need could request that PPE.
Since then, that little grassroots initiative of just a few doctors has grown into a much bigger organization, Get Us PPE, and we’ve managed to deliver (as of August 31st) almost 2.5 million units of PPE. Our team’s grown too, now consisting of over 200 volunteers and employees spanning all sorts of talents and professions, and we also span state borders with our 50+ regional teams and makerspaces. We’re all just the same normal people you encounter in the streets, on the sidewalks, in the coffee shop around the corner, united by a common goal: getting PPE to those who need it most.
This comic book, too, is one of those grassroots projects that has come to define us as an organization. One day out of the blue, this book fell into our hands via Eddy Hedington, containing all sorts of beautifully illustrated little stories already packaged and assembled, and he told us that he and all of these artists had worked together to create this with the purpose of selling it to raise funds for us. Without him and without all the incredibly talented artists who sacrificed their time, this project would not exist; they’re just another group of the people who cared and donated their time and talent that have helped Get Us PPE become the organization that it is today.
This book is called “Heroes Wear Masks”. To a certain extent it’s about our medical heroes, the ones who we see on the television and in photographs covered from head to toe in PPE. But it’s also about the “ordinary heroes” in masks. It’s the neighbor who buys groceries for the old man next door, the nurses providing masks to students, our families, and you – yes, you – doing your part in staying at home and wearing a mask when you leave the house.
Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Get Us PPE, and we’re so incredibly grateful for these artists’ support as we continue to battle this ongoing crisis that doesn’t seem like it will be resolving anytime soon (for example, the Defense Production Act has yet to be enacted). To all of the artists and everyone else donating resources, funds, time and talent to Get Us PPE, thank you for believing in our cause and what we do.
Without further ado, enjoy the comics. This book will make you cry, laugh, and feel all sorts of chaotic emotions. In the end, though, I think it’ll make you smile – after all, what would a story be without a happy ending?