Saying Goodbye To An Anti-Hero Brand Family Member: Sarah Schwartz
Some of you may or may not know her. And even fewer of you may know of her passing. But on Saturday, September 29, 2012, Sarah Schwartz passed away after a long, seven year battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She was only 28. At the time of her passing, Sarah had just completed a novel, which I believe was her first and written the intro for the reprinting of Fuzzyface. Sarah knew she was sick, her doctors had given her mere weeks to live, back in 2010. She was a fighter. She was strong, for being so tiny in frame. She passed, surrounded by family, friends and loved ones.
But this is a way to remember Sarah for who she was. The things she accomplished. The people she touched. And how her legacy and voice will be carried on. Here I am going to let you know how I came to know Sarah, and how she became such a big part of the comic book I write and draw, Youth in Asia.
Back in 2010, my friend, Dan Burgos sent me a link via twitter to retweet for him. Without thinking about it, I retweeted what he sent. Dan’s not the type of guy who sends stupid things or spams people. Later that night I went back to see what I had so thoughtlessly retweeted. It was a link to a story about Tracy’s Tooth Fairy. TTF is a non profit organization that works to help people who have undergone chemotherapy and radiation for cancer, get their smile back. The reason for this, is Sarah, who’s father is the only one who is allowed to call her Tracy, had been battling cancer for five years at this time. Being a cancer survivor myself, I should have known, but did not, that both chemo and radiation can severely damage your teeth. This all depends on where your cancer is located and where and how intensive the treatment is. Here’s the kicker. Because chemo and radiation are medical treatments, most if any insurances will NOT cover the cost of repairs to someone’s teeth. To them, teeth are considered cosmetic, and not necessary. Sarah’s teeth had been damaged through her treatments. Sarah,and her family, being the ever conscious people they are , decided to start a non profit to raise money for people who needed reconstruction of their smiles. The group has done several fundraisers to help out those who need the service. This is just one facet of what makes Sarah such an amazing person.
The story linked to the TTF facebook page. On that page Sarah had listed a “bucket list.” There were several things on this list. One of which struck a chord with me. She wanted to be in an action movie. She wanted to be the charismatic, asskicking heroine who saved the day and looked smashing while doing it. This is the part where I come in. She was 26 when we first spoke via facebook. Through being urged on by Dan, Sarah contacted me about my plan. I told Sarah, that while I couldn’t put her in a movie, I could in fact make her a comic book super hero. I told her she could become Fluxx, a new character I had been developing for some time, but had yet to do anything with (because there was something missing about the character). Sarah agreed to become Fluxx, and my life and the Youth in Asia comic book will never be the same. And I am forever grateful for it.
Time moved forward. And I began working on making Fluxx a part of YiA. I described the character and her powers. Sarah said she liked the idea a lot. So, we went into developing Fluxx’s look, by drawing up several costume designs and having Sarah pick the one she wanted most. We decided on the color palette of black and purple. I wrote up a six page origin story that involved Sarah, in the book her name is spelled Sera, a tribute to her cosplay name of Caribean Sera, working at the Surly Wench Pub in Apex City. Sera, while performing her closing bar duties, stumbles upon a being laying amidst the refuse outside in the back alley behind the bar. The creature reaches out and grabs Sera with a massive leather gauntleted hand. He tells Sera she must take the gloves and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Sera races inside to grab her cell phone and call for help. By the time she returns to the same spot, which is mere seconds, the creature is gone. And left behind are the gloves. While I had just begun on this six page project, Sarah’s family and friends gathered for a prayer circle. I was able to attend, and meet Sarah in person. She was as tiny as her pictures, but completely full of life. This was not my first impression of her, but she certainly made an impact upon me.
Further work happened and almost two years later, Fluxx made her YiA debut in issue 6 at Phoenix ComiCon 2012. There was even a variant cover of Sarah as Fluxx as a special for the con. Sarah also made a full costume of Fluxx that she debuted and wore the entire day on Sunday. I was able to give her not only a copy of the issue she is a part of, but the entire run of YiA, and Fuzzyface. The trip to PCC 2012 would be the last time I saw Sarah, and the last time I heard her voice.
Since that time, I have been to two other states for two different shows in the Albuquerque Comic Expo and the Las Vegas Comic Expo and back here to my home for the fifth annual Tucson Comic-Con. But nothing has made me been able to stop thinking about the little pixie who came into my life for such a short period of time and yet make me rethink both life and who I am and who I could be more than Sarah. Thank you Sarah for bringing life and the identity to Fluxx. More importantly, thank you for being the amazing, talented, passionate human being this world needed, but maybe didn’t deserve.
Please email [email protected] to donate or volunteer to help cancer patients get their smiles back.