A personal note

There’s a lot of things happening right now here at Crimebusters central. I had my first brief convention experience in August, and have my first solo shows coming up, first at Catamount Comics Expo in Burlington, Vermont on Saturday, September 14, and then at Northeast ComicCon in Boxboro, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving weekend. For those, I’ve been working on a ton of new stuff, including my first prints. And meanwhile I’ve also been plugging away on the second issue of The Crimebusters. Not to mention I finished fulfillment on the first issue Kickstarter!

So all of that is interesting and exciting and normally I would be spending the rest of this update giving you all the details and sharing images and everything. However, over the last few weeks, my comic book stuff has all been put on the back burner because of some real life stuff. Today, then, I’m going to get personal and talk about something important to me.

Those of you who backed the first issue of The Crimebusters on Kickstarter probably read my project update talking about my Dad’s illness. For those who didn’t, on June 21, about halfway through the first issue Kickstarter launch, I got a call that a family friend had found my Dad passed out in his car. He had been in his car overnight, delirious from what turned out to be a blood infection. It turned into septic shock, and at the time I posted, things were very touch and go and it was unclear if he would make it.

Unfortunately, my father passed away on Monday, August 19.

Those two months between his initial illness and his death were very difficult for me, for my family, and most of all, for my Dad. He was in the hospital the entire time, recovering from one infection only to get another, and then another. Treatment was very difficult due to complete renal failure, as Dad had been on a kidney transplant list for nearly two years prior to his illness. That would have been his second kidney transplant, as he previously received one in 1997.

The ultimate cause of his kidney failure was a severe wound he received in combat during his second tour of duty in Vietnam on the night of February 29, 1968. He spent the next 18 months in recovery in one military hospital after another. He regained his ability to walk, got married, had kids, and lived a full life over the next 51 years. But the strain on his system, including recurring infections at the time (and possibly exposure to Agent Orange), ultimately led to his kidneys failing.

That, for me, is emblematic of the man my Dad was. He was quiet and unassuming, but he gave everything of himself for the people he loved. When he finished his first tour of service in Vietnam, he signed up for a second tour because he didn’t want to leave his friends behind. When my mom fell ill with cancer, he gave all his his strength caring for her; it’s no coincidence that his kidneys failed again in the year following her death. He wore himself out for her, and never complained.

And he did the same, in small ways and large, for my brother and myself. He wasn’t demonstrative with affection, but he was always present. When he entered the Marines in 1966, he became an OG Marvel fan, reading comics like Thor with his buddies in the service. So when I became obsessed with comics as a kid, something that didn’t necessarily sit well with certain people in my conservative religious community, Dad was always supportive.

When I just had to go to a comic book show in New Hampshire, even though I didn’t have a dime to buy comics, he drove me there. When I just had to have the latest hot comic — Batman #427 — he drove me to Rhode Island to buy the only overpriced copy I could track down. There’s an auction in Connecticut that might have comics? We went, and wasted a whole day for the chance to lose a low bid on a trashed copy of House of Secrets #92. When I wanted desperately to meet Stan Lee at a show in 1989? He drove me to Boston, and then waited for hours with me until Stan finally arrived.

He’d sit down with me and go through my comics, helping me strategize which back issues to buy next. And he’d read them with me too. Every month, after I finished reading the new issue of Groo the Wanderer, I’d pass it to Dad so he could have a laugh as well.

Right to the end, Dad was supportive. As stressful and trying as the past two months were, I’m grateful I had the chance to send those days with Dad, even as sick as he was. We were able to talk about things and say things that whenever had the chance — or the pressing need — to talk about before. And I also got to give him a copy of my first comic, which was a dream come true for me.

I don’t know whether Dad actually cared about comics, but he cared about me, and showed it by spending his time with me doing what I loved. That was Dad.

I miss him.

My Dad in 1978.