In March of 2009, David Rector suffered a series of horrific medical crises. The former NPR producer, with a voice like black velvet caressing your skin, lost the ability to speak—or walk. He was virtually comatose for two weeks. But a friend suggested using Rector’s encyclopedic knowledge and love of comic books—especially D.C. Comic’s Superman and Batman—to bring him back.
“When I put the comic book in front of him, literally his face lit up and he smiled,” remembers his fiancee, Roz Alexander-Kasparik. She put one of David’s beloved Superman comics in front of him and watched him react from the depths of his anoxic ischemic brain injury—a condition caused by lack of oxygen to the brain that wreaks havoc with brain functions.
“It was obvious that he knew what it was—you know how he does that little smirk—one side of his face goes up and the other side goes down. He could hear and smell and had sensory memory,” she said.
Rector, now 66, had moved to San Diego to pursue his dream of working on-air instead of behind the scenes, and had indulged his encyclopedic knowledge of comics, movies and music with a visit to San Diego’s Comic-Con in 2008, the year before he became ill. But the man whose spirit yearned to communicate with the world could now only use his thumb. Rector was given a court-appointed conservator and his fiancee fought a pitched battle to get him out of a series of nursing homes. He stopped responding to therapists. Luckily, Alexander-Kasparik shared office space with comic-industry icon Batton Lash, creator of the long-running comic strip Supernatural Law. He had a suggestion that made Alexander-Kasparik’s head explode.
“Batton said, ‘You really should do a comic book!’ and I said, ‘David’s always wanted to draw,’ and Batton said, ‘Let’s do one; let’s do it,’” Alexander-Kasparik said.