Then This Happened...
A Diary About Breast Cancer.
This is a daily cartoon journal.
I wanted to get back into creating comics and animation. However, the day I started, we found out my wife had breast cancer.
I could have just given up. But I needed to do something to help me deal with the news. So I drew.
"[Tom] documented that time period and captured all the little things that happened, as well as the big things; the serious, sad, and scary things, but also the small moments of humor and lightness. I think a comics diary is perfect for that."
- Ivan Brunetti (cartoonist)
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This was the first comic.
I used to make comics and cartoons and things like that years ago and I wanted to get back into doing that again. On my lunch break at work, I went to meet my wife to tell her about this.
That was the day that we found out she had breast cancer.
This was the first comic I did. I drew it on my phone. And I kept doing one every day as we went through it.
As a matter of fact, the drawing on the cover above is right after we left the doctors office. We were just told she had to get a lumpectomy. We got in the car and she shouted that. My wife says she doesn't even remember doing it. But I remember it.
It started a dialog that I don't think would have been there otherwise.
My wife is now in recovery and cancer free.
But drawing about what we went through each day I think really helped us get through it. It started a dialog that I don’t think would have been there otherwise. The comics aren’t all about going through cancer. We still had our day to day lives and sometimes it was just about that, remembering something about each day.
It's really easy just to say "Nothing happened today".
So I wanted to make sure I found something to look back on.
Like this one, this is one of my favorites!
I was driving home from work and while I was at a stop light, I looked over and these kids were sitting at a table in their front yard eating pizza. One of them looks over at me holds it up and just shouts "I LOVE PIZZA!"
How awesome is that?
I was posting these comics every day on a website I created called American Bandito.
After a near death experience like that, we knew that we wanted to do something different with our lives... which will happen. So we started taking chances.
After a near death experience like that, we knew we wanted to do something different with our lives...
We wanted to meet people in the artist community in our city. So I started a podcast on the website.
I posted an ad on Facebook that basically asked artists within a 10-mile radius of where I lived if they wanted to be on it.
I started meeting artists through that ad. People I never knew before. And things started happening from there.
One of the people that I talked to for instance, also did pop up events. And she told me I should try it. So I did.
I printed my comics as little books I made myself. It was almost a year later we were selling things at an art event. And I published our story as a paperback book on Amazon.
We hope that it just gives people inspiration or hope or maybe even just a little solace in reading a story that may be similar to what some people might be going through.
About the author
I was originally going to be an animator but life and kids happened.
I created a short-lived internet cartoon series called "The Adventures of Xylus and Dexter", where my two boys were superheroes in outer space, because why not?
In 2017 I started a podcast called American Bandito, a podcast about artists in Madison, WI.
I talk to artists of all types and places in their careers. Beginners, hobbyists and professionals.
"Every episode offers some new and unexpected insight into the lives of these working artists, due largely to Ray’s boundless enthusiasm and earnest curiosity."
- Chris Lay, Isthmus
"Tom Ray isn't afraid of trying something new. Bands, animated shorts, podcasts, websites – his philosophy is to just dive right in and figure it out as he’s doing it."
- Rob Thomas, The Capital Times