Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mom's Cancer at

After more than a year, Mom's Cancer is near wrapping up on

What the what?

I haven't exactly trumpeted it from the towers, but Universal Press, the comic strip syndicate that runs GoComics, has been posting two pages of Mom's Cancer per week online since April 2015. Readers can drop in casually or subscribe to as many comic strips as they want. Mom's Cancer has 858 subscribers, which is a comparatively small number (some GoComics strips have tens of thousands). The way I look at it, that's 858 more readers than I had before, plus an unknown number of readers who aren't subscribers.

The last page of the comic, above, ran last Monday. That'll be followed by four strips reprinting the Afterword that Mom herself wrote for the book--in my opinion, the best part of the whole deal--and one strip updating events.

Mom's Cancer got online after I was contacted by Universal editor John Glynn asking if I were interested. That right there is pretty cool. John is one of the comics business's key gatekeepers, and the fact that he knew my book and wanted it on his site was very flattering. John didn't know I'd been pestering my publisher, Abrams, to let me put Mom's Cancer back online where it began as a webcomic. Sales of the print book have been on the long tail of their natural bell curve for a long time, so I saw no harm and much potential benefit. Surely some new readers who discovered it online would want to buy the book. I put Universal's people together with Abrams's people and, months (and months) later, Mom's Cancer was back on the web.

It's been an interesting experience.

First, the story reads very differently serialized twice per week. The pace is different, which affects the readers' experience. I think it actually changes the story in subtle ways (as did its transformation from webcomic to book). Some good, some bad.

Second, GoComics readers--by which I mean those who leave comments on the pages--were a new experience for me. There are maybe half a dozen regulars whose notes I'm always happy to see. Some readers tried the strip and said it was just too painful to read. Understood. There've also been a few oddballs.

Especially in the early days, a lot of readers suggested different cancer treatments and cures we should try, unaware that the story happened 10 years ago. (To be fair, I didn't trumpet that fact either.) Well-meaning people sending their best wishes for Mom's good health broke my heart a little. In the whole year-plus I only deleted one comment--it was pushing a snake-oil miracle cancer cure--which I think speaks well for Internet civility.

It's been weird for me to read Mom's Cancer fresh. It'd been a long time since I actually sat down and read it, and it dredged up some incidents and emotions I would have otherwise forgotten. "Oh yeah, that happened. Yikes!" With some distance, although I'd do some things differently today, I immodestly think it's still pretty good and I'm proud of it.

I appreciate John Glynn and Abrams giving me this new opportunity to share it, and I especially appreciate the new readers who tried it and stuck with it.


emilyap said...

I read Mom's Cancer ages ago when it was first online after you discussed it on racs, but it's been terrific to re-read it. Thanks!

Brian Fies said...

You're welcome! RACS (the Usenet group rec.arts.comics.strips) was the start and key to everything for me. Thanks for reading and letting me know.