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Scott Dunbier talks curating ‘Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds’ anthology

Comic Books

Scott Dunbier talks curating ‘Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds’ anthology

The all-star book directly benefits Ukrainian refugees.

With the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, groups everywhere are trying to raise money for relief efforts. The latest such campaign is an all-star effort directly benefitting Ukrainian refugees.

Having recently met its goal via Zoop, the 96-page Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds anthology features a smorgasbord of comics greats. That includes Stan Sakai, Kurt Busiek, Howard Chaykin, Brent Anderson, Dave Gibbons, Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson, Rob Guillory, Sergio Aragones, June Brigman, Joshua Dysart, Mark Evanier, Emil Ferris, John Layman, Gabriel Rodriguez, Chris Sprouse, Jill Thompson, Matt Wagner, Mark Waid and many, many more. Many of those greats will return to some of their most popular series, including Chew, Astro City, and Usagi Yojimbo.

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To get insight into how Comics for Ukraine got off the ground, AIPT reached out to editor Scott Dunbier for a quick chat. We not only discussed the good work this anthology is doing for Ukraine but also got some great insight into several stories within, how they might tie directly to Ukraine, when readers can expect to see the anthology ship, and much more.

If you’re interested, you can still contribute to the Zoop; the campaign ends Wednesday, May 18.

AIPT: To start, how long has this project been in the works?

Scott Dunbier: I had the idea roughly five weeks ago, and since then it has moved quickly.

AIPT: How does a comics editor like yourself get the ball rolling for a great cause like this, and in particular working with Operation USA?

SD: The first thing I did was call my friends at Zoop. They were kind enough to run a previous charitable campaign for me, the John Paul Leon Winter Men Artist’s Edition. That was a very good experience and so I naturally reached out to them on this. On the charity itself, I was digging into various options but there were so many to choose from. The important issue to me was that the majority of the money would go to refugees, not to admin costs. Enter Mark Evanier, he was the person who suggested Operation USA. I looked into them myself, but also spoke to people in that world (charitable efforts for refugees), and they hit all my bullet points, my concerns. After I was satisfied that they were a good resource, I reached out to Operation USA. They were very pleased and helpful, and are looking forward to funneling funds to those in need. Me too. 

Additionally, I contacted many creators, and the response was truly overwhelming. So many just said, “I’m in.” This will sound corny — I’m a corny guy — but the response from all of these people was truly inspiring to me.

Comics for Ukraine

Alex Ross Cover. Courtesy of Zoop.

AIPT: When it comes to curating a book like this one, are the stories all somehow tied to the atrocities going on in Ukraine?

SD: Some are and some are not. A number are certainly evocative of Ukraine. For instance, Stan Sakai is doing a story in Feudal Japan about a warlord attacking villagers. The Louise Simonson and June Brigman story is totally true-to-life, a brutal story about a family in Ukraine… devastating. Other stories are not tied in. The goal is to do a book that is entertaining, poignant, and gets a clear message across.

AIPT: The creative lineup is impressive already, and I’m sure you’re still working on more contributors too, when it comes to getting to tell stories within Astro City or Groo, are there any licensing hurdles to get over?

SD: Everything in this book is creator-owned. But I reached out to the publishers of those books to let them know I was working on this project. I did not want to blindside them. Mike Richardson of Dark Horse sent a lovely note: “For what it’s worth, you have my full support.”

Scott Dunbier ‘Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds’

Dave Johnson cover. Courtesy of Zoop.

AIPT: Is there a target date in mind for when this collection will be released?

SD: Obviously, all the creators—writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, letterers, my designer, and proofreader, etc. —have full-time jobs. That said, the book will most likely be approved to print three months after the close of the campaign (hopefully sooner). It will be printed in Korea and should be (knock wood that the shipping gods are kind) to the Zoop fulfillment center by November. Once received, books will be sent out.

AIPT: It may be a bit early to ask this but, is there any particular piece of art or story that has come in so far that blew you away?

SD: Have to say it’s a tie on the art so far… please bear in mind all the stories are still in progress, so still, plenty to come. That said, both the Alex Ross and Dave Johnson covers are incredible. Alex did such an iconic image, a powerful take on David and Goliath. Dave’s cover is stunning, the more you look at it the more you see, an extraordinary story he is telling. Honestly, it’s impossible for me to choose one over the other!

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