Creating Andrew's Comic
Kevin Logue of Uproar Comics on helping Belfast-born comic book fan and cancer sufferer Andrew Fitzsimmons tell his story for the benefit of future generations. 'He was a fighter'
When we were contacted by Simon Darby from CLIC Sargent, the charity for children with cancer, about this project, we accepted it as if it was any other.
It was only on the bus to Belfast to discuss the project further that Uproar co-founder Danny McLaughlin and myself began to feel the gravity of the situation. It began to dawn on us how personal the idea was to Andrew Fitzsimmons – a young man from Belfast suffering with a rare form of cancer – and his family.
Then we arrived in Belfast and met up with Andrew and Simon. We talked for hours, about comics, games, movies and things that geeks will understand, and then we began discussing the reason we were there, which was to document in comic format Andrew's journey as he battled with his illness.
We soon got to know who Andrew was – a fighter – and that he wasn't one for letting things hold him back. His spirit and personality were so huge, we wished we could have known him before he had gotten ill.
Andrew made the decision to produce the comic after discovering that his disease was terminal; he wanted to leave behind a message of hope in a medium that he loved that might help others in his situation. We began work immediately, with Danny working very closely with Andrew in developing the script.
Sooner than expected, however, Andrew passed away on October 1, 2013.
With the aid of his family and friends, thankfully we were able to continue telling Andrew's story, and now we are so delighted to be able to fulfil his ambition.
Andrew wanted the message to be clear in this comic – he wanted people as young as he was to understand that this disease can destroy lives, but how, with the right attitude and goals, learning that you have cancer does not mean that you have to stop living. With that in mind, 3,000 copies of Andrew's Comic will be distributed around hospitals throughout the UK and Ireland.
Below are five panels from the finished comic, marking significant moments in Andrew's journey.
Page 6: This page is filled with great emotion. It came from Andrew himself, and reveals the difficulties that this disease has emotionally on the loved ones around you when you have to give them the bad news.
Page 9: Andrew had a fear of needles but, never being one to back down, had to quickly over come it in order to medicate his illness.
Page 19: In the previous pages, Andrew is faced with the eventually that he will no longer be able to get around on his own and must use a wheelchair. This is the first time he sits in the chair.
Page 21: Andrew talked a lot about how he loved that those closest to him didn't change or treat him differently when he got ill, and about how a 'normal' night out was much appreciated.
Page 24: Andrew got ill when he was at university, and through it all he powered through and graduated, a proud moment for anyone but that much more for andrew and the family.