xkcd Battles Cancer with Science Comics

xkcd "Sickness"

This past November, xkcd creator Randall Munroe posted a comic explaining that a family member had become ill. Although a handful of his comics since then have alluded to illness – the frustration of a sick person being told they just need a positive attitude, the promise science holds as a weapon against disease – he has not focused much of his comic on that aspect of his life.

Last week, Munroe decided to share precisely what he has been dealing with these past eight months. His fiancée was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer and she is still undergoing treatment. Munroe shared this in part to explain why he has missed some comic deadlines – although I’m sure his fans, like everyone here, care far more about Munroe and his fiancée’s physical and emotional health.  But Munroe also announced that he is interested in making comics about cancer science, a topic he has obviously learned a great deal about in the last year.

The last two decades have seen several powerful (and, yes, sometimes funny) comics about cancer and other long-term ailments. In 1994, comic autobiographer Harvey Pekar and his wife Joyce Brabner released Our Cancer Year, their account of Pekar’s struggle with lymphoma. In 1999, the syndicated newspaper strip Funky Winkerbean brought breast cancer to America’s breakfast tables when the character Lisa Crawford Moore is diagnosed with the disease. The strip’s creator, Tom Batiuk, is himself a prostate cancer survivor. Lisa’s cancer recurred in the strip in 2006, and in 2007, she succumbed to the disease. Although some fans of the comic decried the plotline as too depressing (but let’s be honest, what Funky Winkerbean story arc isn’t?), the strip won high praise from many who work with cancer patients and foundations.

More recently, we’ve also seen memoirs from cartoonists who have watched loved ones cope with illness. The first-ever Eisner for Best Digital Comic went to 2005’s Mom’s Cancer (now available only in print), in which Brian Fies detailed his mother’s treatment for lung cancer and its effect on their family. Documentary cartoonist Stan Mack wrote Janet & Me, about his partner, YA nonfiction writer Janet Bode, and her battle with, and eventual death from, breast cancer. Polish graphic novelist Frederik Peeters writes about his relationship with his girlfriend and her son, both of whom are HIV-positive, in Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story. In Epileptic, French cartoonist David B. recounts his childhood with his severely epileptic brother.

Around The Web


Chris Hardwick Talks ‘Funcomfortable,’ His Dad’s Personal Mantra, And Keeping A Crazy Schedule

Is There More To The Adam Walsh Story?

Stand-Up Comedy Scared The Hell Out Of Me, So I Decided To Give It A Shot

W. Kamau Bell On Joking With The KKK For CNN And Quoting Malcolm X In His New Special

Chef Jonathan Bennett Shares His Fourteen ‘Can’t Miss’ Food Experiences In Cleveland, Ohio

Jen Kirkman Talking About Her New Book Will Make You Want To Write Your Own

Your Travel Guide To Every ‘Archer’ Location On The Planet

Drifters Take Note: This Couple Has Crucial Advice For Long-Term Travelers

By: 04.27.16

‘Rad’ Star Bill Allen Looks Back On Helltrack And That Iconic BMX Prom Scene, 30 Years Later

Key And Peele Talk About ‘Keanu,’ Why Cats Are Funny, And What They’ll Do If Fame Doesn’t Work Out

Meet Christine Sun Kim — The Sound Artist Who’s Changing The Way We Listen

Presented By
The All-New Prius

UPROXX 20: Jon Lajoie Wishes He Could Go Back In Time To Buy Netflix Stock, Just Like You