Comic: The Year Everything Changed.
A serialized Web-comic. Story & Art by Charles Schiman
About the Author/Artist
I am currently disabled with Lewy Body dementia. It is a brain disease, like Alzheimers, although in the case of Lewy Body Dementia, the memory is not being destroyed but the brain cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The neurons, which process thought and access memory shut down, go dormant, and then die; sort of like a wiring harness in which the wires start breaking and the relays quit working. Much of the brain's messages to coordinate with other centers of the body become distorted and impaired.
In 2006, the first symptoms of the dementia appeared. By 2007 I had lost most of my vocabulary and could barely form simple sentences. Conversations were next to impossible. Thinking coherent thoughts was like walking through molasses. In the spring of 2008, my doctors prescribed Aricept, an anti-Alzheimers drug, in an effort to combat the symptoms of my dementia. It wasn't supposed to work, but it did--although not completely. My thinking regained a lot of its speed and my communication abilities likewise came back. But I still get confused easily, cannot do math, and can only read a few pages at a time before the ability to recognize the letters goes away and I have to rest for twenty minutes or so for it to come back. In May of this year (2014) neurologists at the Mayo Clinic arrived at a tentative diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia after finding numerous areas of inactive or nonfunctioning brain cells in my left frontal lobe and the two temporal lobes. A definitive clinical diagnosis requires an autopsy, so that will have to wait.
There is no cure for this disease or treatment for it, other than to ease the outward syptoms of the disease.
I have drawn and painted since I was a child, and in school I loved to write stories. As the disease progressed my artistic abilities seemed unaffected by the dementia. In fact, I got better at drawing and painting, even as I lost the ability to write, do math and speak fluently.
"The Year Everything Changed" is an attempt on my part to join my artistic abilities with what's left of my ability to write fiction. While I can no longer write convincing fiction and prose, I can draw phenomenally well and--in a comic--the visual is what gives emotional weight to the story being told.
Wish me luck.
I wrote the above three years ago. At the time, I had no idea that I would be able to draw and write the story for so long. During the summer of 2016, I was sometimes completing three to five complete pages a day--that's three-to-six panels needed to be drawn for each page. I felt I had to draw it as quickly as I could.
The ability to write the dialogue went first. Then I started having trouble laying out the panel sequences. Page production dropped until it came to a complete halt in November, 2016. Since then, I have been unable to draw the main characters. So the comic will end on something of a cliffhanger. Sorry about that. I had planned that Megan and Amy and Major Storm would return from the Origin Planet in the nick of time to rescue the rest of the Megans and Amys (and their parents) but it looks like that is not to be.