Sunday, 22 May 2011


Mark Hogancamp was brutally attacked by five men outside a bar in Kingston, New York in April, 2000.
He was in a coma for nine days and spent a total of forty days in hospital following the attack which left him with brain damage, including memory loss, and severe physical injuries.
Having been discharged from hospital Mark received counselling to help him overcome the trauma of the incident and begin to piece together his memories of his life and physical therapy to try and repair the effect of the attack on his motor skills which had become significantly impaired.
Before the attack Mark had been a carpenter and the loss of his ability to manipulate tools and materials, coupled with the terror he felt at the idea of interacting with the world, meant that his personal life and career were left in tatters following the incident.
As part of his therapy he was encouraged to keep a journal to chart his emotional journey and help him to reassemble his recollections of his life before the attack.
Mark made good progress in his physical therapy and counselling but still struggled with many elements of everyday life. His relationships with people around him were affected by the psychological damage he had suffered and he was still unable to work due to his ongoing physical recovery.
Then the money ran out...
Without health insurance or an income to pay his medical bills Mark was unable to continue with his therapy sessions. He feared his recovery would come to a standstill without professional support but recorded his solution in his therapy journal.
He wrote:

'I need to create my own therapies...'

He began to work with model kits to improve his motor skills and found himself drawn to material from the Second World War. He found a doll that he liked, a model of a Captain in the U.S. Army and decided to name him Captain Mark Hogancamp.
Mark had met two women after leaving the hospital who had been particularly kind to him, his neighbour Colleen and Wendy, a colleague at a bar Mark had found work at.
Mark found dolls to represent the two women and had them join Captain Hogancamp in the town he had began to build in his back garden.
Drawing on his work as a carpenter before the attack Mark began to construct buildings for the dolls to live in.
Collen had always loved the idea of a florists in town called 'Pocket Full o' Posies' which had closed down. Mark built a replica in the town in his garden for Colleen the doll to live in and built a restaurant called 'Wendy Lee's Kitchen' for the Wendy doll to live in. For his own doll he built 'The Ruined Stocking' a bar and catfight club and with that the town began to grow.
Mark added more characters with dolls based on friends, family and co-workers and gave them all places to live and work. He decided the town would be based in Belgium during the Second World War and that Captain Mark Hogancamp had crashed his plane there while flying back from a mission to China.
With the population and infrastructure in place the town just lacked one thing.
A name.
Using the inspiration of it's first three residents Mark decided to combine the names 'Mark', 'Wendy' and 'Colleen' and named the town 'Marwencol'.
While undoubtedly useful as physical therapy, the construction of the town and manipulation of the dolls and accessories forming a system of physiotherapy that improved his motor skills significantly, the work hadn't yet began to address the mental trauma of the attack apart from allowing him to create a safe haven for his characters and a world he could control entirely.
This all changed with the arrival of the SS...
Mark decided that an SS platoon would find the town and attempt to destroy it.
They targeted Captain Hogancamp as the leader of the town, captured him and kept him as a prisoner in the town's church.
Captain Hogancamp was tortured by his captors and left with a scar down the right side of his face, the same side that Mark had received his most severe damage during his actual attack outside the bar.
It appeared as if Captain Hogancamp was doomed. The men of the town had either fled or been killed when the SS attacked and he was tied up and helpless.
Then the women of the town arrived...
Lead by 'Anna', a doll representing Mark's ex-wife, they descended on the church armed to the teeth, slaughtered the SS and saved Captain Hogancamp.
For Mark this proved that Anna loved Captain Hogancamp and he had them marry shortly after. They were wed in the town square with the bodies of the SS hanging behind them as a grotesque backdrop.
Anna insisted apparently...
The marriage infuriated 'Deja Thoris', a time-travelling Belgian witch who had fallen in love with Captain Hogancamp 2,700 years previously and had travelled through time to be with him.
Despite this, when another SS platoon arrived in Marwecol on a revenge mission and killed Captain Hogancamp and Anna, Deja was able to put her feelings to one side and used her magic to restore the Captain and Anna to life.
As Mark put it:

'With Anna to protect him and Deja able to resurrect him the SS had to accept that they could never hurt Captain Hogancamp...'

Mark began to photograph the story of the town, eventually exhibiting them in New York City, winning some competitions and publishing a book.
Although Marwencol has transformed Mark Hogancamp into a respected artist it would seem that it's most valuable role was as a haven for Captain Hogancamp, a character that can endure physical and mental traumas that would devastate most people and someone who has found a love that allows him to even cheat death...

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