Older comic book and sci-fi fans likely remember the TV show, “The Incredible Hulk,” which starred Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Many episodes of the show featured scenes of a hitchhiking Banner attempting to catch a ride while the solemn piano chords of Joe Harnell’s, “The Lonely Man” played wistfully in the background.
Now, it appears that the Hulk’s wayward days are coming to an end (albeit for one incarnation of him at least). This evening at 6 pm, the Northlake Public Library will unveil its giant statue of the Hulk, complete with boxing gloves.
Yes, you read that correctly.
It’s not often that one sees the Hulk with boxing gloves, and it’s even rarer that a library obtains a statue of a comic book character. What began last year as a joke on social media turned into a serious bid to draw attention to the Northlake Public Library’s graphic novel collection, which (thanks to the fundraising efforts this past year) is now one of the most extensive in Illinois.
“One night I was on Twitter and the writer of Geek tweeted a link to a Hulk statue as a joke,” says Northlake Public Library board member Tom Mukite, who began the campaign to get the statue to Illinois. “I figured that if anything, a Hulk would get a lot of people to notice our graphic novel collection. At the same time there was the Robocop kickstarter in Detroit, so I felt that was a way that we could help make our collection even more awesome and get a Hulk statue.”
In order to raise money for the statue, a fundraising campaign was launched on the website indiegogo. The goal was to raise $30,000 for the statue, a 3D printer, an Imac, Cintiq tablet, and more graphic novels for the library. There were even rewards for those who gave through indiegogo, which were donated by several people, among them comic book author Mark Waid, the band V for Villains, artist Ashley Witter, and even the Northlake Fire Department. Other fundraising efforts included selling candy and holding bar nights at the library.
The indiegogo project lasted 45 days, and included donations from people within and around the world. Overall, all of the fundraising efforts raised only about $6,000. That was enough to cover the graphic novel budget and a few more items, but well short of what was needed for the statue.
Fortunately, all was not lost. Steven Williams, owner of an L.A. Boxing gym in Orange, California, heard about the project and decided to help. Incredibly, Williams actually had a Hulk statue. The previous owner of Williams’ gym had the statue custom made for it. Faced with changing locations, Williams had no need for the statue and decided to donate it to the library. The only caveat was getting the statue to Illinois, a task estimated at $3,000 in shipping costs. Again, help was on the way. The people at Fastmore Logistics stepped in, covering the shipping costs so the library wouldn’t have to.
The statue arrived in Illinois this July, and after being out in the sun for five years, it was plenty faded. Ron Jordan of Brutal Graphix re-painted the statue, returning the Hulk to his famous green pigment. In August, the statue was present at the Wizard Chicago Comic-Con, where attendees were able to take a picture with the green gladiator for a small donation.
While working on the project, Mukite and his crew attempted to get media coverage. It was slow going at first, but an opportunity finally came through with an article from Pioneer Press. Local coverage from the Redeye, ABC News and Fox News soon followed. Maxim did a story on the project, as did several comic book websites such as Newsrama and The Comic Beat. There was even international coverage from the Guardian UK and other news outlets. “At one point, we were being covered by a few websites in Poland and on Irish radio stations, which was really mind blowing,” said Mukite.
Despite all of the support that the project has gotten, there has been some backlash. “We had many people tell us it was a waste of money in the comments of articles about us. My favorite is always the comments that [say] we ruined all libraries [for]ever. If I managed to do that in one year, I consider that a major accomplishment and [a] good step to being a supervillian.”
Cars will certainly be passing by this Hulk, but unlike his television counterpart, the drivers won’t be stopping to pick him up. Rather, they’ll likely just try to take a photo or two. They might as well, since this Hulk isn’t going anywhere.
It’s kind of difficult for him to stick out his thumb in boxing gloves.