We often think of comics as being either funny stories or super hero dramas. And they can be all that. But many of the best comics tell intensely personal stories about life, death, and surviving the time in-between.
I was reminded of this last week when I read the heartbreaking “A Fire Story” by writer/artist Brian Fies that tells the story of his family’s experience with the runaway wildfires still burning in California and the West. Fies is an award-winning artist who won an Eisner Award for his comic “Mom’s Cancer.” (An Eisner is commonly described as the Oscar or Grammy for the world of comics.)
“When I began working on my ‘Fire’ comic, my wife said the same thing she did when I began ‘Mom’s Cancer’: ‘Well, it’ll be good therapy for you.’
“It is that, but I really see my main motivation as bearing witness,” Fies says. “ ‘I was there — this is what I saw.’ I was a newspaper reporter for a few years after college and have been a freelance writer since, and this comic, like ‘Mom’s Cancer,’ feels like doing journalism to me. I’m using words plus pictures to explain what happened and tell the truth as best I can…
“One thing I think is true is that readers respond to authenticity,” says Fies. “They sense the difference between someone who’s lived an experience and someone who’s faking it. I think in order to be good, a story has to tell the truth. I did the best I could.”
I urge you all to follow the link and read the entire comic. It’s not only a great story, but it will also give you a much better understanding of what’s happening on the West Coast right now. (Please note that the comic contains a limit amount of bad language. Given the context, I think it’s understandable.)