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Utahn Jake Black wrote the Friday, Nov. 19, episode of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." And, while he's been writing for TV and comic books for years, this one is something special.

"I'm really proud of the episode. It was the first TV that I had written in a year," said Black, 31. "And it was just as I was coming out of this awful period of my life."

A period marked by his battle with cancer — Hodgkin's lymphoma, to be exact. "It was pretty brutal," he said.

Black, who grew up in Orem and lives in Eagle Mountain, had made a career out of his love for superheroes, TV and comic books. He submitted a "Star Trek" story to DC comics when he was 10 and got a response from a DC editor.

"He gave me feedback on the story itself, but more importantly he talked about the craft of writing and storytelling. [He told me] if you want to write, write every day," Black said. "And from then on, I did."

Black was inspired by superheroes and TV shows such as "Lois & Clark," "Star Trek," "My So-Called Life" and "Boomtown." At Orem High School, he was the TV critic for the newspaper. He was Orem's Sterling Scholar finalist in speech and drama as a stage manager, and then was the stage manager for the Young Ambassadors at Brigham Young University.

After an LDS mission to Canada and a bad breakup with a girlfriend, he was "looking to get out of Dodge." He landed an internship on the TV series "Smallville."

Black wrote a lot of the "Smallville" viral marketing and a lot of the extras that were included in DVD releases. He went on to write episodes of the animated series "Chaotic," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Star Trek" comic books; a series of children's books; and the Authorized Ender Companion to Orson Scott Card's series of books, just to name a few.

He even co-wrote a "Supergirl" comic book with Helen Slater, who played the character in the 1984 movie.

Not your average career path, but it worked for Black, though even his wife wondered at times.

"When you're growing up, you always think you're going to marry the businessman or the doctor or whatever, but you never picture yourself marrying a comic-book writer," Michelle Black said. "I thought this was just a hobby. So I actually asked him, 'When are you going to get a real job?' "

Turns out, it was a real job. "I would just take whatever gig in whatever medium I could get," Black said. "I built a pretty thorough résumé."

In September 2008, things were going great. He was writing an episode of the Cartoon Network's "Ben 10"; he and his wife had graduated from BYU; they had a 6-month-old son, Jonas; and the couple had bought a house.

He was talking to the producers of "Batman" about writing an episode. "And then I found a lump," he said. "It was Sept. 11, 2008." Doctors downplayed it until he found two more in early 2009. Then they diagnosed the Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"Cancer is such an ominous word," Michelle Black said. "You hear cancer and you equate it with death." And Jake came close.

"I had all of the side-effects that they warn you about with chemo. Even the ones that they said only 1 percent of people get," he said.

The chemo halted the cancer, but it also permanently damaged his lungs. "The night Michael Jackson died [June 25, 2009], I almost did, too. I couldn't breathe," Black said.

The medical bills put his family deep in debt. And the comic-book community rallied to his aid.

Ninja Turtles creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, who hadn't worked together since the '90s, created a piece of art for Black. Prints were made and sold at Comic-Con.

"My wife has a pretty big no-comics-outside-of-your-office rule, except for that Turtles art," Black said.

And Black kept working during his illness "in part because it was such a great escape. But, also, we needed the income." And as he was finishing chemo, he got a call from the "Batman" team.

"I think that was their contribution, bringing me on board because I was sick," Black said, apparently being a bit too modest.

"What I admire most about Jake is his unbridled enthusiasm," said "Batman" producer Michael Jelenic. "When someone is as passionate as he is about the work, it comes through in the writing. Jake has such a solid grasp of the comic-book world. His love for the medium and its characters is contagious."

Friday's episode of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" is set in an alternate future. Batman and Catwoman's son doesn't want to assume the superhero mantle, but then the Joker returns.

This incarnation of "Batman" harks back to the lighter versions of the 1960s, but "this episode's pretty dark, too. There are some deaths," Black said. "Of course, it doesn't mean that they're dead forever."

But life will change. Just as it has changed for the Blacks.

"It's part of our lives now," Michelle said. "Though the cancer is in remission, we'll have to keep an eye on it for the rest of our lives."

Jake feels his battle with cancer has changed his life, although not in the way you might expect.

"A lot of people say that cancer taught them to appreciate every day," he said. "I appreciated every day before. But I hadn't experienced any real darkness in my life until cancer. I think it helped me kind of find a more engaging life perspective that I can bring to my writing."

He's also sporting a button. Black is Utah's point person for the I'm Too Young For This Cancer Foundation (, which supports cancer patients between ages 15 and 39.

"When you go to chemo, it's you and a room full of 70-year-olds," he said. "And there's not a lot of support or advocacy for young adults."

Younger cancer survivors might choose to ignore the disease completely or let it overwhelm them. A support structure, Black said, makes it easier to balance cancer and everyday life.

For him, balance includes more writing. "I feel like I have been able to rebuild my career and get caught up after the year off," he said. "I think this 'Batman' episode is going to be a boost for that."

'Batman: The Brave and the Bold'

P Jake Black's episode — titled "The Knights of Tomorrow" — is scheduled to air tonight at 8 on the Cartoon Network.