RIP, Nancy Swartz

I had a dream last night that I lost my website, and then couldn’t remember what I might need one for. I think this is a sign that I ought to blog more often, although it’s possibly a sign that I shouldn’t blog at all anymore.

Here’s a bit of unfinished business. My onetime roommate and longtime friend Nancy Swartz died last August at age 60. Eve and I had not heard from Nancy for several years, but this obituary from the funeral home helps fill in the blanks:

“Nancy Amy Swartz, 60, passed away on August 14th in Los Angeles, CA, after a long battle with chronic health issues. Nancy was born in Scranton on February 13, 1962 and was the youngest daughter of the late J. Milton and Arline Swartz. She is survived by two sisters, Anne Gillman and husband Brad of Atlanta, GA; Marjorie Swartz and husband Richard Robinson of Sacramento, CA; two brothers, Ken Swartz and wife Jill of Miami Beach, FL; Jim Swartz and wife Orna of Millis, Massachusetts. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews, and grand nieces and nephews all of whom she adored and loved spending time with.

Nancy graduated from Scranton Central High in 1980. She was the seventh and last member of the family to graduate from Central, where she was loved and respected by her friends and classmates. During her time at Central she was very active in the Drama program. Nancy then went on to attend University of Rochester and Barnard College where she graduated. After college Nancy worked in the entertainment industry. She initially did some acting in summer stock theater, and subsequently began a career as a producer working on numerous shows including Good Morning America, Court TV, MTV, and several reality TV shows. She also spent time working with Michael Moore on his documentaries.

Nancy loved all aspects of the entertainment industry and was an encyclopedia of knowledge on all types of movies. With her charm and intellect, she could light a room. And, she often had a funny story to tell. Nancy was always thrilled to celebrate the many accomplishments and life events of her nieces and nephews and will be missed by the entire family.

A graveside funeral service will be held Friday at 11 a.m. in the Dalton Jewish Cemetery by Rabbi Dovid Saks.

There is no local shiva.

Memorial contributions may be made to the donor’s favorite charity.”

Here is a 3D shot of Nancy in a bathtub, circa 1990:

Nancy showed up frequently in my sketchbooks and also as a sometime character in comics. A nameless character based on her was one of the many women who appear in my 24 Hour Comic The Girl With The Keyhole Eyes, which I later reworked in color for Dark Horse Presents:

I also based a character in my reality TV fantasy comic Are You Being Watched? on Nancy. She had been a production assistant and producer on reality TV, and as she described her duties largely consisted of plying the contestants with alcohol to loosen their inhibitions and “ramp up the sexual tension”. I actually ran a contest on my Patreon to name her character, and as part of that included this self–description:

”Hi, I’m a playwright and performance artist who has mostly appeared on alternative stages in Brooklyn and the East Village, and I won the coveted Performance Art Yammy Award for my one-woman show Triumph Of The Shrill. Hey, but a girl’s gotta eat, so I’m helping out on this new show, which they tell me will do for comic books what SKIN WARS did for body painting. I do a little bit here and there on the production, but my big job is pushing the drinks cart around, and making sure none of the contestants go thirsty. The producers tell me that keeping all the contestants buzzed really helps ramp up the sexual tension, and that makes for great television!

Just between you and me, I’m being paid under the table, and I’m not sure I want to use my real name on this project anyway. Can you help me come up with a good alias? Post suggestions as comments below, and when we have enough of them, we’ll vote on a winner!”

The response to this contest was not overwhelming, so I believe the character went unnamed in the final comic. Here we see her in action:

When Nancy died, I had just started a series of celebrity obituary End Strips, and so far had done Anne Heche and Mikhail Gorbachev. When I heard that Nancy had died, I decided to expand it to include the not so famous. I happened to have several nice photographs of Nancy in my files, including a shot of her at Coney Island with my son Ben:

Bon Voyage, dear friend.