“You have a life-threatening condition,” the doctor said.

“We need to get you somewhere where they can operate on you,” he continued, the words tumbling out of him.

“We need to get you there immediately.” A breath.

“We have a hospital. We have a surgeon. When we have an ambulance, you’ll go.”

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve seen Tom Spurgeon’s essay on facing a life threatening illness, an illness which led to his unexpected blogging absence earlier this summer, and which still affects him, although he’s recovering. Since looking death in the face usually prompts some inventory of life, Spurgeon does just that in an astonishing essay that covers his life and his life in comics, if there is a difference. That a man fighting for his life should spend that time thinking about the Green Lantern movie is both ridiculous and awesome — Tom’s thoughts on why we chose the comics life and why we stay there speak for me about 80% of the time. It’s not that we have no choice, but rather why would we WANT to leave a field that is full of such honest, unpretentious work and creative, life-loving people?

I mean no disrespect to Tom’s great essay by linking to two others in the same post; but they amplify many of the same thoughts. This weekend Frank Santoro writes of a fun comics weekend in the city:

That’s when Dan waved his hand again because I was being too loud. What-ever! I was having fun. I can’t help it! See, the cool thing about comics is that if you hang in there long enough your heroes can become your friends. And what’s cool about comics people is that we all know how hard it is to do comics or publish comics or write about comics – and so there is a certain comfort in sharing stories because no one really outside of comics actually gets what comics is about. So this was an occasion to celebrate this most crossroads-y, interzone-y – most impure art form on the planet. I was happy.

And last week Becky Cloonan was asked about the freelance life and mentioned both its horrible drawbacks — long hours for little pay — and why it’s so great:

What makes it worth it though, is I love drawing. I LOVE IT. I love making comics. I love starting a new page and buying new paper, ink and brushes. I love telling stories! I love the people I work with, I love the people I meet. I love thinking about the syntax and language of comics. I love esoteric discussions about the comic book industry. I love the opportunities I’ve had in life because of comics. The second I stop loving it I will find something else to do. Comics are hard work. Comics are relentless. Comics will break your heart. Comics are monetarily unsatisfying. Comics don’t offer much in terms of fortune and glory, but comics will give you complete freedom to tell the stories you want to tell, in ways unlike any other medium. Comics will pick you up after it knocks you down. Comics will dust you off and tell you it loves you. And you will look into it’s eyes and know it’s true, that you love comics back.

Personally speaking, the reason I love comics is getting to know people like Tom Spurgeon, Frank Santoro, and Becky Cloonan, as well as appreciating their work. We need them to stick around forever. Wishing you the best for your recovery, Tom.


  1. Thanks for linking to that essay, Heidi. Wow, that was an amazing read. I don’t know Tom Spurgeon, but have read his words for many, many years. Best recovery to you, Mr. Tom.

    ..& I have reposted that Becky Cloonan quote all over the place. She & her work amaze me.

  2. Comics is a weird medium, mainly because it’s a lifestyle. It affects so much of your personal life, and requires loved ones to be understanding, even if they do not understand comics.
    I was dealt a big blow in life a couple of years back. My first instinct was to grab the closest piece of blank paper and fill it. People around me did not understand what I was doing, at the time nether did I. It was not until later when I came into downtime I realized that comics was an escape for me, and that it’s probably an escape for the readers. As a creator the world can be brutal to you, the industry itself is not your friend. The reward, and curse, is the black piece of paper and what YOU make of it. I think the people that have comics as part of there life have fond themselves in them, or through them.

  3. This is a truly wonderful essay, with lots of food for thought. I certainly identified with a lot of it! Sending good thoughts to Tom for a long and healthier life!