02 April 2012

Cancer: The Invisible Villian

                Our Cancer Year is unlike most comics. It is not about superheroes or super villains but instead it is about cancer. The comic starts when Harvey and Joyce receive an unexpected visit from Tod, Joyce’s brother.  Harvey tells Tod that if he is still looking for work then he can help him move out since he will be having surgery. The morning of the surgery Harvey is ready for his surgery way before he has to. While Harvey is in the operation Dr. Canton comes out to inform Joyce that Harvey had a large tumor, and leaves in a hurry. Dr. Canton then barely explains to Harvey that he has lymphoma and that he needs a CAT scan. Shocked from what the doctor told him a nurse tries to comfort him by telling him that she had sarcoidosis and that she just learned to live with it. Still angry and confused Joyce asks for the doctor to explain more but he again just comes in and tells them the same thing and leaved once again. After Harvey is told that he has cancer he worries about Joyce and all he can think about is writing his will. Joyce trying to feel better calls her friend Becky. Becky comforts her by telling her that her Grandmother survived even though she was little and old. After Harvey’s CAT scan Dr. Canton gives him good news and tells him the cancer hadn’t spread. Back in their house Harvey insists on helping out and moving cinder blocks. Joyce gets mad at him because he shouldn’t be lifting anything. Feeling worthless Harvey freaks out and Joyce leaves to her car where she finds her landlord and Slim. They approach her and tell her that they come to see the apartment but Joyce refuses on letting them in. they insisted but Joyce tells them that it isn’t a good time for them right now. When Harvey calms down, Tod goes to Joyce and tells her that they’re going to the new house and that she should stay there and get some rest. At some point after the day Joyce checks in with the carpenter, Stephanie. They chat for a while and then Stephanie tells her that she is going to be late because she has a mammogram. We find that Stephanie is really worried since she has a history of breast cancer and that she found a lump. The story ends when Stephanie apologizes for taking so long but Joyce tells her she understands since she’s going through a similar time and they both hug each other.
                This comic is an example that not all comics are about superheroes like everybody thinks. It is a comic that deals with a big problem, cancer.  We can see how Our Cancer Year is used as art as it is a way for Joyce Brabner and Harvey Pekar to express themselves.  Scott McCloud’s revolutions discussed how there needed to be more genres of comics. Our Cancer Year being a different genre helped comics gain more popularity since many readers could make connections with the characters since cancer affects many people. Even in the comic itself many people are or were affected by cancer yet they found comfort with other people who went through a similar situation.

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