An Open Letter to Nate Bellegarde

Nowhere Men #6 Cover

**Although not all of the details are public knowledge, Nate Bellegarde has written about why Nowhere Men was delayed here and eventually why he wasn’t going to stay on the comic, here.**

Dear Nate,

I met you at Boston Comic Con 2014.

I remember going up to the table and seeing your name. Thinking it looked vaguely familiar; I wandered towards you.

And then I noticed you were signing Nowhere Men copies.

Mentally I went, “Oh my god, he’s the artist from Nowhere Men! He’s amazing! I didn’t even think to bring my copy with me! Oh my God!

What I first said to you was instinctive, I know it was. I know I had no malice in this question and I couldn’t have possibly have known the personal struggles you were going through at the time.

But I asked you a question that I now regret asking:

“Hey, when’s the next issue coming out?”

I’m not good at picking up on social cues and dealing with big crowds (like those at Comic Con) In fact, the crowds at BCC tended to make me have to sit down every so often so I could decompress every once in a while.

So while I didn’t see you eye-roll me in any way or make any sort of face, I guess now I imagine you did one internally. You must’ve been so used to the question by then, I couldn’t imagine you not thinking to yourself, “Oh good…this question again! My favorite!

You said it’d be out soon…okay, I’m not sure what you said, honestly. Most of meeting you is a blur (my memory isn’t that great) but in retrospect…man what a shitty question.

As you may have noticed, we have three things in common:

  1. Aspergers syndrome (diagnosed when I was around 10)
  2. ADHD (diagnosed when I was around 5)
  3. Depression (never formally diagnosed as far as I know, but it’s pretty obvious)

As such, I related a lot to your letters when they first came out.
I read the first not long after I had gotten volume one of Nowhere Men. And when I figured it wasn’t coming out I went looking online for an explanation…

I read the second letter not long after the news broke in July of 2015 that you weren’t coming back to Nowhere Men after all.

I wrote recently in my review of #7 that this was nothing short of a tragedy.

And I meant it.

That being said, it’s a little weird to be writing this letter now when I originally wanted to write a response to you back in 2014. I even tweeted you in October of 2014 to reach out. But I second guessed myself and in the end decided not to.

A lot of my second guessing was wrapped up in a lot of the things you mention in your letters.

I had a lot of guilt about trying to talk to you about a subject that clearly upset you. I wasn’t sure if it was my place to really address you in such a formal manner when I hardly knew you. And most of all I was just scared of what would happen if I tried.

What if I failed? What if it went terribly? What if you didn’t even like what I said?

What if it made your problems worse?

So yeah, I get it.

Even now, I second-guessed myself in doing this. Does it make sense to bring something up that you’ve already established you’re done with? What if I’m beating a dead horse?

But, if you’re reading this, then I decided that’s not the case.

I’ve decided that, for whatever it’s worth, it’s worth stating that your letters helped me.

I’m not going to be over-the-top; they didn’t save my life but to be fair I wasn’t in any sort of crisis at the time from which they could’ve saved me.

But they helped me internalize things about myself I hadn’t thought about. And even re-reading it, they still pack a mean punch. I related and continue to relate to the constant internal guilt tripping and shame, beating oneself up over your mistakes, dwelling on the negative things, thinking of yourself as a failure and a lot more.

I do all of these things to myself and I’ve done it for a while. It’s taken me a year of hell (RIP 2015) to figure out how to better manage my self-esteem. In the process, I’ve learned how to not let my self-worth be dictated by my relationships with others. I’ve learned how to stand up for myself and my needs a little better. I’ve learned how to more accurately tell whether I’m in an unhealthy relationship.

Which is not to say that I’m somehow perfect and I’ve vanquished depression.

But my point is: I did all of this learning through pain and lots of it.

I’m not saying pain is a unilaterally good thing but rather that, unfortunately or not, life is a lesson-giver and boy school sucks.

I went through two different breakups within the span of two months in the last few months of 2015. All of this came from a mix of personal history with the first ex, mistakes I made in 2015 that came back to bite me and most importantly my own unwillingness to face unpleasant truths.

And then I called my first suicide hotline in mid December of 2015.

There was a lot of crying, unwanted realizations and figuring out what was best for me.

Man that sucked.

What I’m getting at is that as much as it sucks that you let everyone down, you can improve from it. There’s no guarantee of that of course, maybe you won’t. But it is possible and maybe the pressures of it drawing aren’t a suitable working environment for you right now.

Maybe deadlines aren’t your thing and only exacerbate your issues with depression, ADHD, ASD and whatever else you’ve got going on. I don’t know for sure and I wouldn’t encourage you to make any hasty decisions even if the aforementioned things were true.

I hardly know you, as I said before and so I can only speculate and offer what has helped me.

And I know that what has helped me has been a mix of self-preservation, coping skills, friends, therapy and putting my feelings out there in an artistic fashion.

I watch some stand-up when I get depressed sometimes.

Or maybe I talk to a reliable friend who I know won’t judge me so harshly due to my mental illnesses (I am referring to depression here).

There is a local depression group on that I go to that’s really good for me. It lets me help other people who suffer from various problems that I can sometimes relate (or can’t relate) to. And helping people makes me feel better about myself sometimes. It’s not too healthy to do that when you can’t even take care of yourself, but a good balance of the two seems advisable.

And of course, I’m a writer.

So to get out my own hurt feelings I often write poetry. Sometimes I’ll write short-stories if I really want to go into detail about what I feel on a broader level. And hell, I’ve even written a few novellas in my short life-span thus far. But they help me in some cathartic and instructional sense. That doesn’t mean they come easy all of the time or that it’s some sort of immediate cure for what ails me. But hey, they help and that’s what is important.

Of course, maybe they won’t help you; maybe writing your feelings out is part of the problem.

I don’t know and like I said, I can only offer what’s helped me and hope your use of therapy, medicine and CBT has aided you.

My other struggle with this letter was a central purpose, but I guess it’s the same as yours: To reassure others that they’re not alone.

By the by, I’ve always wanted to get into comics and I imagine you live around the Boston area.

In which case, feel free to drop me a line sometime.

Just to chat if nothing else, sounds like we have a lot in common.


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