Marc Christian Brueland

Artist and DJ with an invincible spirit

Marc Brueland, a talented artist and popular night club DJ passed away on Saturday, October 25th, 2003 after a seven and a half year battle with cancer. He was 30 years old and lived in San Diego.

During high school, Marc developed an interest in comic books and began to pursue a career as a comic book artist. He wholeheartedly dedicated himself to his goal and honed his artistic skills becoming a top artist in Serra High School's Advanced Placement art program. A few short weeks after graduating he was picked up by the San Diego based animation studio American Film Technologies where he worked first as a clean up artist and advanced to the role of an inbetweener.

After his stint as an animator, Marc once again set out to follow his dream of creating comic books. With two of his closest friends, Christopher Higginson and Rayel Friesen, they founded Invincible Studios, a small press comic book company. The three of them, only 19 years old each, self-published their own internationally distributed comic book anthology, "Three". His contribution to the book continued to draw praise even after he left the series.

With another milestone under his belt, he went back to work in animation and quickly proved to be a superb character animator. He worked at Lightspan Partnership and Aerie Animation on children's educational projects. At only 22-years of age he worked as a lead animator and had started directing his first project, but his career was cut short when he began to show signs of his illness, Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer.

At Scripps Green, one of the nations leading Cancer treatment centers, he underwent a radical and high risk surgery to remove a large, tumor from his liver described as "grapefruit-sized" and most likely growing undetected in him since high school.

Living up to his publishing imprint name, he proved to truly be "invincible" himself. Over the next seven and a half years he was plagued by several more tumors and major operations which limited his ability to continue with his artistic endeavors, but never dampening his hopeful and confident attitude.

Despite being plagued by fatigue and chronic pain he was able to contribute a back up story to the popular "Lenore" comic book series by Roman Dirge (for SLG Publishing) and continued to look forward to eventually creating comic books again.

Though unable to work full time as a comic book creator, Marc enjoyed attending the annual San Diego Comic Book Conventions and became an inspiration to everyone he met. Touching the lives of fellow artists and contemporaries.

Not allowing the disease to deter his optimistic outlook, he turned his creative nature to working once a week at local nightclubs as a DJ. His longest tenure being at Club Sabbat, a popular goth/industrial club in San Diego.

While searching through compilation CDs for his DJ'ing sets, Marc stumbled across an album featuring a cover of "Walking in the Air" by the platinum selling Finnish heavy metal band, Nightwish. Remembering the song from his favorite childhood cartoon, he immediately called his mother and shared the song with her. It was a difficult time for the family and the song served as a way to bring them all together once again. Wanting to learn more about the song and the band, his mother, Georgene, began making calls to the record label... and was actually put in touch with the band members. Through telephone conversations, Marc and the band's frontman Tuomas Holopainen became close friends.

Marc traveled to Atlanta to see Nightwish perform at the Progpower concert and meet the band. During their performance, the band dedicated the song, "Walking in the Air" to him and despite the near crippling effects of his illness, he was able to briefly walk out on stage. Marc and Toumas shared a hug and Marc walked up to the microphone and said "That's my brother," to the roaring approval of the crowd, many of whom had heard his story and were moved to tears.

Marc on stage with Nightwish.

After developing a friendship and inspired by the strength and courage Marc demonstrated in his battle with cancer, Nightwish began to record the song "Higher than hope" for their album "Once" as a tribute to him. The song features excerpts of dialogue from a news interview Marc did after his first operation.

Unfortunately, Marc passed away before he could ever hear his song.

Listen to "Higher Than Hope" on Spotify

In another sad turn in the story, Marc's Dad Eric passed away on November 11th, 2007 after his own battle with cancer. He had recently gone with the family to visit Nightwish's Tuomas and the Holopainen family in Orange County. Eric passed away listening to his favorite Nightwish song, "Meadows of Heaven" and is buried with his son.

"The hopes were high. The choirs were vast.
Now my dreams are left to live through you"
- from 'Higher than hope'

Eric and Marc Brueland

Some of Marc's art
click to enlarge)

-Some photos of Marc.

- Listen to "Higher Than Hope" on Spotify

- An interview with Tuomas of Nightwish wherein he talks a little about Marc.


Fan art by Ashley

Two fan made "Higher Than Hope" videos. (Marc would have loved these, he was a huge anime fan.)

- "Higher Than Hope"- Full Metal Alchemist AMV

- "Higher Than Hope"- Chrono Crusade AMV

We would like to take this opportunity to express our heart thanks to all around the world who have been touched by the story of our beloved son Marc, either through this website or through the music of Nightwish. As you know, Marc lost his heroic battle with cancer October 25th, 2003. Over these past fourteen months our grief has been unconsoleable. Marc was the driving force in all our lives. His creativity, outgoing personallity and lust for life were infectious. A light has gone out in our lives and we have been left in the darkness wondering why? But through the music of Nightwish's Higher Than Hope, Marc is immortal around the world. The outpouring of compassion from metal fans, comics fans and those who knew him has helped us try to cope with this overwhelming loss. Therefore, in 2005 each time you hear Higher Than Hope remember Marc's courage and also know that his family will always be grateful for all the expressions of love shown us from strangers around the world.

The Brueland Family