Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goodbye My Brother: Captain Cure Creator Ty Wakefield

Ty Wakefield wasn’t the next big thing in comics, though the way he talked you’d think otherwise. He was an illustrator and storyteller with big dreams and even bigger ambitions but the big “K” would see that those dreams and ambitions might never come to fruition.* Today, my friend lost his battle with cancer. All those who love him are mourning yet feel a sense of relief. The battle is at an end, he is finally free of the pain and suffering after 4 years of an exhausting, endless battle with Osteosarcoma, Ty will finally be able to rest in peace.

I was introduced to Ty through his wife, we worked together at the bullet factory in town. When she found out I was a struggling writer, she offered to show some of my work to her husband who had recently started his own comic book publishing business. My first reaction was, “this guy is insane but what balls he has for pursuing his dream!”

A day or so after submitting some of my work to Ty I got a very excited call from him.

“I love your script. I want to turn it into a comic. I know I should have asked you for permission first but I already started drawing stuff up. It just unleashed all these images…

Ty was always full of praise and a talented salesman, he sold me on the idea of entering into comics within minutes. The next thing I know I’m showing up in the local newspaper with him. It was a whirlwind of excitement and a thrilling time in my life I’ll never forget. But it wouldn’t be all fun and games.

The big “K” was knocking on the back door.

I found out Ty was a cancer survivor shortly after joining the ranks of his creative team. And before my first comic with him was to be published the cancer was back. For him it always came back... The first time it motivated him to pursue a crazy dream of drawing and publishing his own comics. The second time it inspired something more, something called CAPTIAN CURE!

Ty always swore he would never do a superhero comic; he was a fan of comics like CREEPY, TALES FROM THE CRYPT and his fave, MAD MAGAZINE. However, the Captain wouldn’t be dismissed so easily. As he tells it, Captain Cure was born one day as Ty lay in his chemo bed letting the drugs do their thing as his mind wandered from one random thought to the next. The Captain kept popping up.

It wasn’t until he told the mother of another cancer survivor about Captain Cure that the character would begin to take shape and with her persistence, he got his butt home and started working on it.

Ty went to work on the first issue, putting everything else aside.

“I feel I was meant for this. Every time I am working on this comic, things always seemed to get better,” Ty was fond of saying. Captain Cure was to be his legacy, his mark on the world, his chance to make a difference.

And a difference it did make.

November 30th 2008, Captain Cure Comics #1 debuted at a huge celebration in Lewiston, Idaho to a crowd of 500 people of all ages. He took his comic on tour to Children’s Hospitals and was interviewed on Portland, OR morning television on KATU AM Northwest.

Ty continued his charitable work with the comic and fought cancer both as a guest speaker at conventions and cancer support groups. In 2009, he released Captain Cure Comics #2 and with no delay started the third part in his trilogy detailing in a fictional format his own struggle with cancer.

But unlike many of his readers, Ty did not survive his cancer. The hard reality of it refuses to sink in… In our eyes, Ty Wakefield is Captain Cure and the Captain can’t die… or rather won’t die because Ty has touched our hearts and souls with his creation and he will always live in our memories.

Ty, we love you man and we thank you for everything you’ve done. Goodnight my friend, my brother, sleep in peace.

-Benjamin J. Kreger

*For those not familiar with the animated show Metalocalypse, the "Big K" is in reference to cancer.

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