(Images were taken from Bryan’s website due to my still-busted scanner)
After spending the last few years reading Bryan’s tales of becoming an MMA fighter, I had a pretty clear guess on what a comic of his called “Slump” would be all about. And, as is usually the case when I make guesses like this, I was completely wrong. This is the story of the death of Bryan’s mother and how he coped with it. The answer, which should be obvious to anybody with human emotions: not well. He was guilty about perceived faults along the way, about not taking her earlier illness seriously enough, and about not spending enough time with her. And he makes a very important point in here, which is why I used the sample image that I did. The “five stages of grief” that everybody talks about are always discussed like they’re linear, that once you get through the last one that you’re free and clear. But anybody who has lived through the death of a close family member knows that any one of those stages can come up again at almost any time. Bryan, for instance, spent weeks reaching for his phone to call his mother about some mundane aspect of his life or a question he had for her, only to realize all over again that this just wasn’t possible any longer. This is a heartbreaking book, but it’s also hopeful, and it doesn’t take any shortcuts to get there. Time helps, a little, and so does input from family and friends. I could see this being a very helpful book for somebody who is struggling with their own grief. And, if nothing else, you could always buy his comic about monsters fighting each other to go along with this one. Two very different ways of dealing with grief, but any relief is good relief, right?