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Comic artists draw sick kids as superheroes to benefit children's hospital

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Polygon is excited to unveil, for the first time online, five completely new superheroes making their debut this weekend at Chicago's biggest comic book convention. Their creators are among the city's bravest citizens, and they all happen to be between the ages of 5 and 15.

Chicago Loot Drop is a geek-centric charity that raises money to provide toys and games for the patients at University of Chicago Medicine's Comer Children's Hospital. Since 2013, their Drawing Dreams program has invited patients at Comer to collaborate with Chicago-area comic artists to bring their superhero fantasies to life.

Prints of the creations will be raffled off at booth 1294 at C2E2, while a silent auction is running for those interested in purchasing the originals. All proceeds will benefit the kids at Comer.


The Seer

Sabrina, age 15, suffers from scoliosis. She was paired with artist Tony Moy, whose work has appeared in X-Files, Dungeons & Dragons and Transfusion comic collections. His watercolor, called The Seer, shows a superhero who can read people's minds.

But Sabrina's superhero doesn't use her mental powers for her own benefit, she uses them for empathy.

"I would want to know how people feel, and to know if they felt sad or not, so that I could help them," Sabrina told Moy. She also requested a purple sparkly cape, gold leggings, purple glitter shoes and an "S" on her shirt. Moy obliged with this beautiful watercolor.

You can visit Moy at table A12 at C2E2's Artists Alley.


Mrs. Healzintien

Kylie, age 12, receives care from Comer for neuroblastoma. She was paired with artist Gabriel "Gabo" Bautista, whose work has appeared with DC Comics, Image Comics and Oni Press. An Eisner and Harvey award-winning colorist, he is currently the artist for The Life After series for Image.

"My superpower would be to cure any kinds of diseases or cancers," Kylie said. "I would point my finger and zap with my rainbow fairy dust. My first stop would be Comer Children's Hospital. I would fly into the room and heal everyone."

Bautista shows her here mid-flight, wearing a purple jumpsuit.

"Over my heart would be another heart," Kylie said, "with a bandage over it."

You can visit Bautista at table F11.


Magic Morpher

Autumn, age 10, suffers from chiari malformation and pseudotumor cerebri. She was partnered with artist and illustrator Ali Cantarella, best known for her series The Hasty Pastry.

If she were a superhero, Autumn said, she would want to have the power to transform into real or mythical creatures in order to fight crime and help the poor. Cantarella shows the Magic Morpher mid-transformation, wearing her trademark blue headband with a rainbow unicorn horn on top.

"She's a little bit Lisa Frank meets Sailor Moon," Cantarella said. "I like to try to make imaginative stuff, so if kids like it they might be inspired to do something different themselves. That's why I like working with Loot Drop."

You can find Cantarella at table K4 all weekend.


Ronaldo The Great

Aaron is just five years old and, if he were a superhero, he would want to shoot ice from his hands. Why? So he could score more goals.

Artist Rich Kunz is a high-school art teacher and a freelance artist. Thanks to a relationship with Rittenhouse Archives, his work has appeared on collectible cards for Star Wars, The Hobbit, DC Comics, Topps, Marvel Comics Cryptozoic and HBO.

"I'm a weekend warrior in terms of the convention scene," Kunz said. "I've been a high school teacher for 15 years, and before that I was a baseball coach. Comics and movies, that was always my passion when I was younger. So I sort of got back into it after I had kids."

You can visit Kunz at table J10.


Animal Healer

Ashley, age 12, was diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukemia. Her partner was Ryan Browne, best known for his over-the-top series God Hates Astronauts.

The request was simple; Ashley wanted her superhero to be able to talk to animals so she could make them feel better.

Browne shows her just as Ashley described her — dressed like Catwoman. The high-five for the hawk was his own touch. You can visit him at table N1.

Disclosure: The author has previously volunteered for Chicago Loot Drop.

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