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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mark Millar's Illness -- I was very sorry to read at The Great Curve that writer (and longtime Galaxy booster) Mark Millar has been suffering from Crohn's Disease.

As he lays out in a Newsarama interview, it's a disease that runs in his family, and he even compares it to diabetes, which runs in my own. So as someone who's greatly enjoyed a lot of Millar's work over the past few years, and as someone dealing with somewhat similar health issues, I find myself feeling deeply sympathetic for Mark, and hopeful that he finds better health. Doubtless this story going public will educate the public about what he is battling -- I know more about Crohn's disease now than I did an hour ago, and I can't be alone in that regard.

For someone who has taken his share of shots over the years, I was interested to see that Millar is downright reflective in the Newsarama interview; he even goes a long way toward making amends with some in the industry that he has taken on (perhaps unwisely at times) in the past. That one rings some bells, too, as my dealing with my own health issues over the past eight years or so has occasionally distracted me to the point that I have done things I deeply regret only later to realize just how foolish and short-sighted I'd been. As you can see in the case of Mark Millar, staring your own mortality down most often leads one to see one's self much better than one's previous illusions of (you'll pardon the term) invulnerability could ever allow.

For example, many years ago I got into a stupid battle with Johanna Draper Carlson because of my feelings about religious fundamentalism; at the time I painted all Christians as whackjobs, and yet here is the very Christian Johanna leading the charge against truly vile religious extremists. I couldn't admire her efforts more, which would shock the hell out of my somewhat-less-enlightened self circa 2000.

One of the unavoidable elements of a long time spent in any one endeavour, I can see now, is the pernicious progression of time. When I started writing about comics back in 1998 or so, I had no idea how many truly wonderful friends I would come to know, or how many obstacles I would watch them overcome, or how many of my own they would support me as I tackled, or perhaps failed to tackle. It's gratifying to know who your friends really are, and in this strange world of the computer internets I can really only say I have made four or five genuine friends in the past decade or so, but I have enjoyed knowing and talking to countless other people as well, frequent acquaintances AOL might call "Buddies," but that doesn't quite seem to capture it either.

Mark Millar is one of those people; I can't say we've ever met or shared a drink, but he's been a great supporter of me and my site over the years, and I have always felt deep down that whatever controversy he was stirring up online or in comics, that he was one of the most decent and loyal people I have ever encountered. I still feel that way. For all his faults, most of which I am quite sure he'd own up to, Mark Millar is one of the good guys. And I sincerely wish him every bit of luck in fighting his illness, and I hope every one of you that can will find a way to support him and those like him.

Mark Millar makes it very clear that Crohn's is no walk in the park. Me, Augie or George Perez will tell you that diabetes, while manageable, is also incurable and can be deadly if not kept under control. A life in comics, or in anything, inevitably leads one to reflect on life in general, and life is filled with births and deaths, health and illness, marriage and divorce, success, and suffering. If Mark's story leads anyone to try to help find a cure, or even to donate to the cause, then good for him for telling the world what he's dealing with.

As a friend, as a frequent correspondent, hell, just as someone who really loves a lot of Mark's comics, I just want to say, get well, Mark. And take care of yourself, you've earned it.



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