Readers of The Lost Art

Mom’s Cancer

March 4th, 2009

Writer and Artist: Brian Fies
Reviewer: Jean.

Mom's cancer

“Mom’s Cancer” does what it says on the tin.

When Brian Fies’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, one of the ways he handled it was by writing a diary, and he wrote it in the form of a web comic. It chronicles the details of having – and being treated for – cancer: the emotional stress within the family (“We’re glad Nurse Sis is on our side”, he remarks ruefully), the uncertainty about how far Mom is
aware of the seriousness of her condition (and how far any lack of awareness is part of her way of coping), the feeling that doctors and patients are speaking different languages… Unusually for the US, the one concern that isn’t mentioned is finance: Mom gets the best treatment available.

And there’s a happy ending, too, up to a point. Fies cannot have known, as he was drawing the strips, that his mother’s illness would take the turn that it did, and it would be cynical to suggest that this made the book as a whole more marketable, but some of the particular charm of the book does come from the shape of the story, the upbeat ending and the final twist.

It’s a nice little book as a physical object, published in a landscape format which retains the proportions of the computer screen. The publisher is so much not a comics company that they don’t even use the word: Abrams Image is “an exciting new line of visual books for readers of all ages…” (If they were aiming at a comics-aware audience, they probably wouldn’t have stamped “Image” on the spine).

It’s a sweet, likeable book, but its substance derives from the subject matter rather than the way it is treated: it tells its story simply, and there’s little in that telling that is particularly memorable.

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (31 Mar 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 0810958406

(First published 07/11/2006.)

Comments are closed.