J Moulton and Ken Naylor, owners of Village Comics in Bedford, will host a fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 12 to benefit Hear in New Hampshire. The store will sell copies of a comic book poster created by local artist Emily Drouin for $10, with 100 percent proceeds going to the nonprofit agency that helps children with hearing impairments and their families. (SUSAN CLARK PHOTO)
Super hero benefit
A superhero-themed benefit for the hearing-impaired at Bedford comics shop
BEDFORD -- IN THE WORLD of superheroes, J Moulton and Ken Naylor can stand tall among the best of them.
Moulton and Naylor are teaming up with artist Emily Drouin to raise money for the nonprofit Hear in New Hampshire and to raise awareness for the hearing-impaired.
On Oct. 12, from noon to 4 p.m., Village Comics, at 196 Route 101 in Bedford, will host a fundraiser by selling prints created by Drouin, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the agency that provides educational, therapeutic, social and support services to children with hearing loss and their families. The cost per print is $10.
The guest of honor will be Anthony Smith, 5, of Salem, a hearing-impaired child who received national attention last year after his parents contacted Marvel Comics to ask if any superheroes had hearing disabilities. Marvel responded by creating a superhero called Blue Ear — Iron Man's sidekick who uses his special blue hearing aids to hear others in need of help.
Anthony was born with a chromosome disorder that affected his right side. He cannot hear out of his right ear and has reduced hearing in his left ear. Anthony wears blue hearing aids, just like Blue Ear. The disorder has also affected Anthony's heart and, in August 2012, he had open-heart surgery.
It just so happens that Anthony's favorite superhero is Iron Man, said his mother Christina D'Allesandro.
"It's great for him. Superhero identity is definitely his thing," she said. "If people ask him if he's Blue Ear, he says, 'Yes, I am.' It's part of his identify in a positive way."
Anthony is now a kindergartner who takes part in soccer and karate, and, of course, loves superheroes.
"He's a rock star. He's doing brilliant and amazing things," said D'Allesandro.
She said Linda French, director of Hear in New Hampshire, was the first professional who addressed Anthony's hearing loss.
"The agency really wants to stress that the earlier you get your child a hearing aid, the better they'll do," D'Allesandro said. "They helped us tremendously by getting us in touch with other families. We joined the infant and toddler playgroup and learned how we could help Anthony."
The family is also grateful to Village Comics for raising money for Hear in New Hampshire, which teaches children to listen, talk and develop spoken language skills to be active in their schools and communities.
"We're thrilled. We've been approached by other people but this one felt right," she said. "The poster Emily did is great."
When Moulton and Naylor heard about Anthony and the Marvel character, they felt Village Comics had to play a role. The comic book store, located above Fireplace Village, recently opened, and the business partners said hosting a fundraiser is a way to get involved in the community.
They contacted D'Allesandro, who said the fundraiser should benefit Hear in New Hampshire. "We have a charitable mind set for kids. The superhero angle is a trifecta. If we can do something for this little boy, all the better," said Naylor, of Bedford, who owns Fireplace Village stores in Bedford, Keene, Hillsborough and Merrimack.
The fundraiser fits perfectly with the comic book store's mission, and with Marvel Comics' vested interest in portraying people with disabilities as super heroes, said Moulton, of Londonderry.
"A lot of characters are based on disabilities or differences. Daredevil is blind, and Iron Man has a heart condition," he said.
The two men first met at the Londonderry Flea Market when Naylor approached Moulton at his booth looking to buy comics for the new store and asked him about his knowledge of comic books.
"J is my resident comics expert. It's a good mix of our love for comics and the business aspect," Naylor said. "We complement each other."
Moulton said he's been reading comic books since he could hold a book, and it's a way to enter other worlds and live out the superhero fantasy.
"It's the hope and dream of every kid to work in or own a comic store. It was always my dream," Moulton said.
The store carries an array of comics from the 1940s to new releases, plus comic book toys and accessories for all ages and genders. The business partners plan to hold fundraisers and community events in the future. They will also be on hand at the "Not So Scary Halloween Party" to benefit Our Promise to Nicholas Foundation at the New Hampshire Sportsplex, 68 Technology Drive in Bedford, on Oct. 25, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Nicholas is a Bedford boy who was born with batten disease, a debilitating disease that attacks all functions of the body.
"We're hoping to help local charities. It's something I want to pass on to my three kids to be charitable and to live a dream. You don't have to win Powerball to do it," Moulton said.
To learn more about Hear in New Hampshire, visit hearinnh.org. To sign up to attend the Not So Scary Halloween Party, visit ourpromisetonicholas.com.