Isn’t that what you wanted?
re-normal for the late night train
The next few updates are going to be single pages —Chapter 43 wound up two pages shorter than planned, and Chapter 44 two pages longer than planned— and I need the final update to coincide with the Volume 3 release so folks don’t forget this story by the time the book comes out.
Revised update schedule:
April 15 - Chapter 43 Page 9
April 22 - Chapter 43 Page 10
April 29 - Chapter 43 Pages 11 and 12
May 6 - Chapter 43 Page 13
May 13 - Chapter 43 Pages 14 and 15
May 20 - Chapter 44
Today would have been Nathaniel’s 39th birthday. I’ve been pretty much silent here since his death, which will have been two months ago in a few days.
In addition to being an awesome little brother and one of my best friends in the world, he was also a tremendously talented artist; ridiculously adept with technology; and incredibly giving, forgiving, and kind.
He got a BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in 1997, which is right about the time DC and Marvel sort of imploded and there were no jobs to be had, so he put his dream of being a comic book artist on hold (though he was published in The Big Book of Hoaxes in 1996). He did graphic design work for a bit and then accidentally stumbled into a job with a group called MediTAC, which was a joint partnership between NASA and Yale Medical School working to find solutions for long-distance medical support of deeper-space travel (like to Mars) and also here on Earth. In the course of this job he traveled all over the place - Mount Everest, the Mars habitat simulation on Devon Island near the North pole, Ecuador, Kenya, Egypt, and Turkey (he could neither confirm nor deny that they snuck across the border into Iraq to provide artificial limbs to needy Kurds, thereby “smuggling arms into Iraq”) and a number of other places.
It turns out when he left MediTAC and moved to Austin, he had did so with no job lined up because he planned to say his goodbyes and kill himself then. Nobody knew this until my mother read the letter he left for her. Why didn’t he follow through? It’s an age-old story: he met a girl. They were together for several years, and then when they split up he didn’t want her to think he did it because of her so he kept going for a while. That’s the kind of person he was. He got a job at Apple and worked there for five years and by all appearances loved it - his five-year anniversary came while he was on disability leave in January wrapping up his affairs in preparation for his suicide in February.
Again, that’s the kind of person he was - his apartment was covered in Post-It notes and envelopes with people’s names on them all with instructions and descriptions (like “you can probably get $80 for this on eBay if no one wants it”). He left a list of alcohol to be served at his memorial and a stipulation that our non-drinking older brother had to drink and no blood relatives were allowed to leave until he was at least tipsy.
Ten pictures and a few paragraphs can’t begin to show you all that Nathaniel was and still is to many people.
But, if there’s a moral to this story it’s that even awesome people with awesome talents and awesome lives succumb to depression so deep and so pervasive and so crushing that suicide seems like the only option. David Foster Wallace compared it to choosing between jumping out a high window of a burning building or facing the flames. Jumping isn’t less scary just because of the flames, but you can’t know what it’s like to make the choice until you’ve been there.
I haven’t spoken about this online out of privacy concerns but got Val’s OK to reblog this last night, so.
I lost one of my best friends in February.
I’m trying to think of something profound and pithy to say about depression and suicide and bonds but… god, sorry, I suck at this.
But when you open the last volume of TJ & Amal, his is the name in the dedication on the first page. I just wanted all you guys to know something about the extraordinary life and the funny, compassionate, amazing friend behind that name.
Reminder: no comic update next week due to ECCC. If you’re in the Seattle area, come see us at table KK-9!
This is now a comic about sushi.
Update for Tuesday, February 25, 2014: Pages 469 and 470 (Chapter 42 Pages 15 and 16)
Not surprised he’s there, but that he showed his face.
Re-peninsula-pomegranate for the night train
Na na na na na na
I better go it alone