The prolific penciller plied his craft for decades on titles like Wonder Woman, The Flash, and co-created the Image Comics cult-favorite The Maxx, but after a series of personal setbacks he's now homeless and reliant on church programs.
The story comes from Fox 2 in Detroit, when a reporter named Derek Kevra heard about Messner-Loebs' plight through Kevra's wife's stepfather, a pastor who works for a program called Severe Weather Network. The program gives the homeless a place to stay during the weather months, and that's where Bill's story worked its way to Kevra.
Messner-Loebs was born with a tumor in his left arm, which was amputated shortly after his birth. In his early teens he became proficient at drawing, and his name has been credited in many prominent titles throughout the '80s and '90s.
But tragedy struck when Messner-Loebs' mother became ill, and shortly after his wife got sick as well. The bills piled up until he was finally evicted up September 11, 2001. He said he had one day to feel bad for himself before he realized he had to keep moving forward, looking at the bigger picture in life.
He recently became homeless after his mobile home was considered unlivable. Kevra and his video crew ventured to the park where Messner-Loebs and his wife used to live and saw it stacked with boxes, with their neighbors confirming they kept many of their old belongings. A park manager responded to a gas leak in their home and told them the Fire Marshall declared their home unlivable, as it was packed with stuff, had no circulation, and was likely growing mold
But Messner-Loebs said he does not want sympathy, or to be gifted a home.
"A home would certainly be nice but actually a job… in artwork," Messner-Loebs said, adding that compassion would also go a long way. "I think a lot of the fact that we don't have compassion has to do with the fact that we have so many alternative facts about people floating around. Our ideas of what the homeless really are like, of what people who are disabled really are like, that's so much different than the image that people end up with. I think that would go a long way to making the world a better place."2comments
Some fans and industry members are using this example to call for comics' creative talents to unionize, hoping for better benefits and protections from events like this happening in the future.
Kevra has since updated his story stating that Messner-Loebs qualified for a housing choice voucher, and that he and his wife are currently looking for a new home. There is also a GoFundMe page set up for Severe Weather Network, which is the only emergency housing option in the area where Messner-Loebs lives. People can donate to the program by clicking here.