24 Panels: An anthology comic to aid PTSD needs of survivors of the Grenfell Fire
Contributors include: Kieron Gillen, Sean Azzopardi, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Gen Ainslow, Drew Wills, Rob Jones, Leigh Alexander, Tom Humberstone, Christof Bogacs, Reda Kahloula, Trevor Boyd, Bev Johnson, Alex de Campi, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Triona Tree Farrell, Paul Cornell, Rachael Smith, Liam Donnelley, Al Ewing, Doug Braithwaite, Mike Garley, Alex Moore, Mike Stack, Antony Johnston, Robin Hoelzemann, Pippa Mather, Lizz Lunney, Sara Kenney, Caspar Wijngaard, Dilraj Mann, Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie, Emmet O’Cuana, Jeferson Sadzinski, Cardinal Rae, Laurie Penny, Gavin Mitchell, Erika Price, Joanne Starer, Lynne Yoshii, Comicraft, Daniel Santos, Debora Santos, Toben Racicoat, Paul Swain, Gwen Kortsen, Angela Wraight, Ram V, Pablo Clark, Deshan Tennekoon, Linki Brand, Dan Watters, Sarah Gordon, Tula Lotay (cover), Steve Thompson and Rhona Martin
Publisher: Image Comics
We were approached by our friend Mike Garley, a highly regarded writer and member of the comic community to help spread the word about 24 Panels and of course we instantly agreed. Unlike the other comic reviews we have published in the past, this will not be so much a review but a showcase – we want to highlight the cause and the message running through the anthology.
A real tragedy
In June 2017 just before 1am a fire broke out in the kitchen of a fourth floor flat in the 24 storey tower block in West London. Within minutes the fire had spread and by 3am the upper floors and all four corners were alight. It was a devastating event, coined as one of the worst modern disasters seen for many years. In total 72 people lost their lives that night and in the days that followed. It is an event many will remember for the rest of their lives.
24 Panels and the survivors
24 Panels was created to support the survivors of this truly heartbreaking disaster and raise money to help support their PTSD needs. The anthology comprises of 24 stories, each no longer than 24 panels, a creative nod to the 24 floors that made up Grenfell Tower.
There are some of the biggest names in comics involved in this anthology, however it remains completely grounded and true to its aims, made up of an impressive cast who manage to keep the spotlight away from themselves and firmly on the cause itself. Alongside names such as Alan Moore and Kieron Gillen are a whole host of newer small press creators and indie up-and-comers who help highlight the message of this anthology.
We spoke with one of the editors Rhona and asked for an insight into the creative process behind the creation of 24 Panels. In discussing how her and Steve brought the contributors together and how Kieron came to be on board she had this to say;
“About a year ago we approached Kieron Gillen to see if he’d like to be our editor in chief and he accepted the challenge! With his help we were able to gather a broad range of creators. We also did an open call via our Twitter account for submissions from as yet undiscovered creators and we were astounded by not only the volume of work we received but the quality which was incredible” – Rhona Martin- Editor of 24 Panels
The contributor list is not only impeccability curated but diverse in a way that really translates through the panels. The pool of talent reflects the multicultural and diverse nature of the former residents of Grenfell Tower and of London as a whole.
The coming together of all these incredible voices has raised awareness and much-needed funds for those who are having to live with the stress and trauma of that fateful disaster.
“Thanks to Kieron’s existing relationship with Image we decided it would be crazy not to approach them plus they have a unique financial deal and also waived their normal fees meaning each copy sold will raise even more cash. Fantastic people; we’ve really enjoyed working with Image“- Rhona Martin, Editor of 24 Panels
“All we asked of the creators was that they understood the project was about raising funds to go towards the PTSD related needs of Grenfell survivors and the themes of “Community” “Positivity” “Unity” and “Hope” then we left them to interpret those themes as they wished”- Rhona Martin, Editor of 24 Panels
One of the major themes that struck me when reading through 24 Panels was that of community; a group of people really coming together to support, help and look out for one another. One work that really amplified this for me was ‘They Say’ written by Alex De Campi (Bad Girls, Smoke/ Ashes), with art by Ro Stein (Crowded, Princeless) and Ted Brandt (Captain Marvel, Bitch Planet) and colours by Triona Tree Farrell (Runaways, Rose).
They Say is a look at people’s opinions vs the truth and asks us, how much do we know about our neighbours? It can be easy to cast judgement on the people living their lives around us without knowing the full story. There is a famous saying ‘Don’t judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes’ and this could not be more true and more fitting for this anthology. They Say reminds us to look beyond how things appear and give our time to those around us: even those who look like they are flourishing could be struggling.
We all must do our bit to be a better friend and neighbour to those around us and those in need. Whether they are on your doorstep or in another country to you, community is about coming together.
Another stand out theme is the way this disaster has affected the survivors’ mental health. Immense feelings of survivor’s guilt and depression feature in many of the works. One in particular that really struct a chord with me was Amyg Dala, written by Sara Kenney (Surgeon X), art by Caspar Wijngaard (Angelic) and letters by Hassan Otsmane- Elhaou (Shanghai Red).
There is so much pain and truth in those panels, I read Amyg Dala over and over, feeling reborn after each read. Sara Kenney has helped me remember that no matter the form our monsters take, they can be understood, overcome and we can move forward.
Comics, for myself and for many, provide an escape from the everyday. They grant us access to worlds we would not experience without the imaginations of these incredible story tellers and artists. For centuries art and stories have been helping to inform the people of major events and injustices, raising awareness of issues surrounding mental health, gender, sexuality and oppression, and 24 Panels is no different. The heart and soul that has been poured into this anthology shines through and reminds us to try to be better neighbours and also, something very important, to take care of ourselves.
The response has been very positive, kind, encouraging and enthusiastic both from individuals and reviewers such as you mighty Valkyries! We really hope this translates into good sales and hopefully a second pressing!’– Rhona Martin, Editor of 24 Panels
The passion shown by not just the contributors but the editors – Kieron Gillen, Rhona Martin and Steve Thompson – is palpable. They have co-created something that will stand the test of time and that they should be incredibly proud of. If you haven’t already picked up a copy of 24 Panels, I implore you to do so, you can get your copy here .
Keep up to date with 24 Panels here: https://twitter.com/twenty4panels
or here: https://24panelsblog.wordpress.com/