Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies

Mom’s Cancer
by Brian Fies
Abrams Image, 2005

Umm… yeah. Tricky subject at the best of times, cancer is something of a critics’ favourite for graphic novels, because the seriousness of the subject helps offset the massive prejudice against the format. The books are also popular presents to sufferers seeking to explain their situation to friends and family members.

Offhand I can think of two other autobiographical cancer-themed graphic novels: Our Cancer Year by Harvey Pekar & Joyce Brabner, which was suitably grim, and Cancer Vixen: A True Story by Marisa Acocella Marchetto, which was excellent if not as enjoyable as her previous book, Just Who the Hell Is SHE, Anyway? 

I thought Mom’s Cancer was going to be a lot more mawkish than those other two books, and it’s certainly a lot more whitebread, but it’s also a very clearly told story with sympathetic characters. It emphasizes that it’s a story of hope, not of death, and was first published anonymously online as a form of therapy for the author. It won an early Eisner for Best Digital Comic (lord knows how they judge those now!) and is nicely presented, printed and annotated.

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