A Tragedy Means the Birth of a Tiny World

It’s rare that the creative process finds such a strange — and tragic — source, but for Mark Hogancamp, a near-death experience, has birthed an entire world of characters and set designs reflecting the brutality of war and other themes

Mark Hogancamp died 11 years ago tomorrow, when five men kicked his head in outside a Kingston, N.Y., bar in the early morning hours. He was reborn months later, after he awoke from a nine-day coma, his memory wiped nearly clean of the details of his life – his early marriage, girlfriends, family, Navy service, thundering alcoholism, homelessness, jail time – and he had to relearn how to eat, walk and think at age 38. Feeling shunned by the outside world, he created his own world, a tiny society called Marwencol.