She used to be, um… *who,* exactly?

For the past several years I’ve received  inquiries from numerous fans in the comic book industry about a blog, and requests for all sorts of content on any blog I might start.  But, as anyone who follows my Facebook or Twitter feeds knows, many of my tweets/posts  are not about comic books or the industry I’ve live and breathed for 20 years  (although when “Wonder Woman” ends up as trending as a topic, I can lose whole days to that glorious debate).

I’m interested in so much — and find so much interesting in the world — that it’s been nearly impossible for me to narrow the scope of my Tweeting and Facebook and social media-ing to merely “the job.”  Indeed,  there are so many in the business with really excellent Twitter feeds and blogs (and far more nuanced writing skills) tackling the likes of Batman or The Young Avengers  that I figured my “angle” online would simply be to chat about anything I found interesting on that day.   Invariably, that’s a lot.

I’ve covered a lot of bases in my few thousand tweets, from art, politics, and religion to plenty of  humorous stuff, too (and yes, on comic books and super-heroes  — just enough to get me in trouble, at least!).   But I’ve never really posted much cancer.  Not  comprehensively, anyway.

Until now.

My mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in October of this year, just a few days after her 68th birthday.  The diagnosis was devastating for multiple reasons: Stage 4 lung cancer is inoperable and terminal;  the cancer, now spreading to multiple organs and tissues throughout her body, causes my mother incredible, debilitating pain;  a vibrant woman, someone I happen to like a lot, was quickly stripped of nearly everything she’d fought so hard in the past five years to obtain (most notably her independence); and maybe, most selfishly, because I dig my mom, and, I adore the woman she’s become in the past five years. I just adore her.

Now, I don’t think my mother would object to me telling untold zillions in the blogosphere that she wasn’t always this woman (although there’s plenty that she might object too, if she knew I was telling the world).  Indeed, she was a very different woman when I was growing up, and an even different woman before than, from the tales people tale.  She used to be someone else entirely. And, thanks to the lung cancer, she’s going to become someone else before she dies, far too soon.

So that’s really when it struck me, how I might focus this blog, this “thing” I’ve been concocting for years now.  While I’d like it to be about a lot of things — ’cause I love a lot of things, and the world fascinates me no end, I’m going to star by focusing on my mom. Who she was. Who she became.  And what her story’s meant to her, and to me (and how her stories have shaped my approach to stories, and what I like to say with them).

So that means some family history, and some American history.  Lots of stuff on gender and its politics through the decades.  Personal observations about my mom and her tumultuous, often far too difficult personal history, and how that shaped her approach to raising me (and raising me well, I might add).  And then, of course, cancer, caretaking, and life and death.

Pretty standard blog territory, right?

(I’ll try to throw in polls, too, ’cause folks *love* answering polls!)

Obviously, I’ll  tackle other stuff, too, since forums like this tends to grow organically (and there are a bazillion blogs on cancer, and I want this to be more than just that).  And I’ll try to blog regularly, but please be patient if I disappear now and then.  Taking care of my little spitfire of a mother is a full time job, even moreso than drawing comic pages (especially those hospital visits!).

Now, I’m not sure I’ll use enough “key words” to make me a Google top 10 hit, or if I’ll include enough tips about cancer caretaking to make it a “must-read” for Sloan Kettering docs or their patients.  My guess is that hardcore Cyclops and Wolverine fans won’t necessarily give a shit either, unless I’m actually talking about Cyclops and/or Wolverine — although I’m told my “voice” is so distinct that anyone reading my stuff knows it’s me instantly, so that might intrigue some comic fans to stick with it for a little while, at least (I’m sure my left-0f-center observations on the industry will bring some back, too — and drive others far, far way).

But ultimately, my hope is that enough people will come back to this I’m making, while I take care of my dying mom, to keep interesting, interactive, educational, informative, touching, and meaningful.  If nothing else, my mom (her name is Pam!, by the way — I’ll explain the exclamation point later) will have her story — what I can get of it — recorded for posterity, if not eternity.  It’s really quite an extraordinary story, and worth knowing, I think.

(And, just ’cause  it’s gnawing at me, like a wounded animal (no, I don’t mean mom!) — does that “Until now” up there seem false, and irritatingly over dramatic? (could you hear the “dum dum DUM” as you read it?).  I mean, I love a cliche as much as the next guy that loves a cliche, and I thought it worked quite well there, but…well, let me know if it was too much or not, and I’ll adjust appropriately as we head toward the future together.  Maybe. 😉

P.S. You’ll find I love a good non sequitur, too!)

22 thoughts on “She used to be, um… *who,* exactly?

  1. Anthony says:


    Welcome to the blogosphere. I’ll be checking in regularly. I lost my mother to lung cancer, after a 3 year fight, back in 2005. I was the primary caregiver for the last three months of her life since my father was in a wheelchair and unable to do as much as he wanted to. So even when you’re not talking about comic books, I’ll be visiting.

    Thanks for being willing to share your journey, and thanks for all the great comics over the years!

    (@talekyn on Twitter)

    • Anthony,

      Thank you so much for sharing. I’m meeting way, way too many people with this disease and others like it. I’m so sorry for your loss, and really appreciate you check in here.


      • Anthony says:


        Thanks for the condolences. I’ve also been on the “patient” end … colon cancer in 2005. So I know it from both ends. If you need anyone else to vent to, cry to, etc. Please, don’t hesitate.



  2. Anna choe says:

    Hi Phil,

    It’s Anna Choe (from highschool), now living in Portland, OR. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I remember most vividly her spitfire personality…hopefully that will get you through the rough days and give you relief in the good days ahead. Give my regards to Joe & Pam(!).


    • Anna! Holy shit! It’s so great to hear from you! I sure hope you and yours are having an amazing holiday. Are you spending it with your sister? Tell that divinely handsome hubby of yours hello from me and Joe. 🙂 xoxo

      • Anna choe says:

        I know…it’s been forever since we’ve seen or spoken to each other! I will definitely tell Don that you and Joe said hello. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers this holiday. Hang in there!

  3. Paul K. Bisson says:

    I’ll grab this spot right here. I love family history. And I love a good story. ‘Until now’ seems rather appropriate. Posterity won’t know what hit it.

  4. Stephanie says:

    You are a most welcome addition to an ever-growing blogging family.

    And simply, cancer sucks. I’ve watched almost every woman in my family (grandmother’s generation first) fight repeated battles only to succumb to this vicious, inhumane disease. Wonderful, fascinating women who deserve better, very much like your mom.

    It won’t be easy, what you’re facing now. But you are a wonderful person & son for being there for her.

    I look forward to more posts about her & all the other things you’re sure to post.

  5. PHIL!!
    So happy to see this finally up. 🙂
    And you KNOW people would have come in droves to read a blog from you even before the cancer discovery and even without a mention of comics. You ALWAYS have an interesting opinion on a multitude of topics, and wonderful view on life in general. As many of your friends have been telling you for years, you should really have your own TV talk show for cryin’ out loud! But for now, a blog will suffice.
    We’ll be anxiously awaiting each new post! Looking forward to some good reading… 🙂
    – Anton

  6. Kevin O says:

    I’ve read both of your blog posts. They are, to say the least, incredibly moving.

    Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you at a couple of conventions. The grace you make it through those days with is admirable. It’s always enjoyable to talk to you about any topic. Yes, your “voice” is distinct.

    I’m really sorry to hear about your mom. Cancer is a world-class a$$hole. It took my grandfather. There are no words I could offer to make things better. I wish there was. 😦

    Hopefully things brighten in the very near future. I hope you, Pam!, Joe, and the rest of your loved ones have as Happy a Thanksgiving as possible!

  7. Erik Warns says:

    Phil this is amazing. I am looking forward to reading what you have to say and learning more about Pam! and what you guys are going through. This is something I wish I had been able to do when my grandpa was dying from cancer 12 years ago. My great Uncle and my mom’s best friend also died from cancer. It’s so hard to watch people go through this and I felt that I wanted to tell everyone about these amazing people I knew. Anyway I hope this helps you and I miss you and love you.
    Talk to you soon my friend.

  8. Dear Phil,
    I have purchased some of your WW art in the past and met briefly in San Diego during the Comic Con invasion. When I was 10, I lost my great grandmother to cancer and then when I was 20 I lost a dance teacher (I am a choreographer) who I was very close to to the same disease. Some of my strongest, positive memories of both of them were of times that we spent together after the diagnosis. As someone who has already experienced the loss of someone close, I am sure you already know this. My best wishes for you in this difficult time, but also my best hopes for the road ahead.
    Javier Velasco

  9. David says:

    Hugs and prayers from one of your fans. XXX OOO

  10. Paul Benincasa says:


    I’ve been following your tweets for some time now and have been rooting for your mom and you. Sadly I was informed yesterday that a family friend is also battling stage 4 lung cancer. Speaking as a parent I’m pretty sure your presence is a great comfort to your Mom. I don’t know what else to say other than my thoughts and prayers are with you guys.


  11. Sue (DCWKA) says:

    Hi Phil, welcome to the blogosphere! I’m so sorry about your Mom.

  12. David says:

    I know I’ll be bookmarking this site and checking it often. I’ve lost too many people to cancer, so my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  13. Frank Smith says:

    My best thoughts are with you and your mom, Phil, and I hope the remaining time you get to spend with her is as awesome as possible.

  14. Hello Phil, this Carrick, who you often see SD Comic Con and you do not know how sorry I am to hear such terrible news of what is happening to your mother. While as you mentioned in the post that this illness is sadly terminal, I hope greatly that her last moments on this Earth most especially the moments you will have, are truly beautiful and wonderful. I too have very close relationship with my mother for she has supported me through countless trials and triumphs and the thought of loosing her would be just as devastating.

    I hope to hear more from you on this blog and thank you for giving the advice and inspiration for the current work I am trying to accomplish right now.

  15. Jen in Oz says:

    I’m terribly sorry for what you’re having to go through at present. As so many others have said, “been there, done that” – my mother lasted only 3 weeks from diagnosis to demise, from smoking induced lung cancer and emphysema, almost all of which I spent at her bedside. That was in June 2003 and yes, I still miss her. And yes, I’m still very outspoken about people who smoke. That brown gunk she coughed up is still a horrible image in my mind.
    I’m not sure what else to say, except that you can rely on those of us who have been in your position in the past to support you EVERY step of the way.
    Jen in Oz

  16. No trouble about the title. I’m a comics fan, but perhaps surprisingly here, not really a fan of your work. That does not mean this blog will not catch my attention. So I’m in! 🙂 Courage to you and your mom.

  17. Bill says:

    It’s up! Congrats on getting started, Phil. So sorry about your mom…. I lost two grandparents to lung cancer…. I look forward to a long line of illuminating posts.

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