By Brian Fies
A writer shares his family's experience with cancer in his graphic novel
By Brian Fies
When my mother, Barbara, was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in 2003, my two sisters and I found our family torn in unexpected, disturbing, and sometimes funny ways. I began observing the experience as honestly as I could, and my notes and sketches became the comic strip Mom’s Cancer. My goal was to draw a map of this treacherous path we’d been on so that others following us might have an idea of what was waiting for them. In this sequence, titled “Rx Kryptonite,” I used the cartooning metaphor of the superhero to express the idea that a crisis doesn’t necessarily transform a family into better or wiser people. Often it amplifies both their strengths and weaknesses, making them more of what they already are.
Initially serialized anonymously on the internet, Mom’s Cancer gained a large grassroots audience that led to the comic industry’s prestigious Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic in 2005 and a book, published by Abrams Image, in 2006. Although my mother enjoyed an unexpected remission that originally concluded Mom’s Cancer, she subsequently died in October 2005, at 66, very proud that her story might benefit others.
To see the artwork of Brian Fies, please refer to the print magazine.