In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees. When we weren't sheltering in place, we were advised to wear masks, wash our hands, and practice social distancing. We watched in horror as medical personnel worked around the clock to care for the sick and dying. Businesses were shuttered, travel stopped, workers were furloughed, and markets dropped. And people continued to die. Amid all this uncertainty, writers and artists from around the world continued to create comics, commenting directly on how individuals, societies, governments, and markets reacted to the worldwide crisis. COVID A Comics Anthology collects more than sixty such short comics from a diverse set of creators, including indie powerhouses, mainstream artists, Ignatz and Eisner Award winners, and media cartoonists. In narrative styles ranging from realistic to fantastic, they tell stories about adjusting to working from home, homeschooling their kids, missing birthdays and weddings, and being afraid just to leave the house. They probe the failures of government leaders and the social safety net. They dig into the racial bias and systemic inequities that this pandemic helped bring to light. We see what it's like to get the virus and live to tell about it, or to stand by helplessly as a loved one passes. At times heartbreaking and at others hopeful and humorous, these comics express the anger, anxiety, fear, and bewilderment we feel in the era of COVID-19. Above all, they highlight the power of art and community to help us make sense of a world in crisis, reminding us that we are truly all in this together. The comics in this collection have been generously donated by their creators. A portion of the the proceeds from the sale of this volume are being donated by the publisher to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) in support of comics shops, bookstores, and their employees who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
Some of these stories were brilliant. Some of them made my heart heart. Some made me angry beyond belief. Some of them filled me with hope. With over 70 creators involved, there's a story for everyone. With everyone hunkering down at home for months, these stories provided a great outlet for the creators involved which I enjoyed very much.
Received a review copy from Graphic Mundi and Edelweiss. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.
Although it's impressive that this compilation was published while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, it isn't as powerful or visually appealing as it could be. COVID Chronicles is a jumble of what I'd call “snapshot stories” united in the COVID-19 theme, but beyond that, parameters for story submissions were flexible. The book is entirely sequential art, and the snapshots are fiction and nonfiction. As is to be expected, the art varies wildly in style, and topics run the gamut. Frontline work, tele-schooling challenges, death of loved ones, and politics are just a sampling of what's addressed.
My feelings also ran the gamut. For some stories, I was awe-struck by the clean, realistic-looking artwork; how the topic was presented; or both. For others, I was so turned off by the ugly artwork and text-heavy word balloons that I couldn't wait for the story to be over. Additionally, too many of the contributions feel incomplete, with weak messages and sometimes weird or discombobulated story lines.
Because 2020 was a watershed year in the Black Lives Matter movement, several of the stories incorporate this theme, and the story that stirred the strongest feelings in me, “Between Two Worlds,” does this in a natural way: It addresses the difference in COVID-19 rules enforcement for white people and people of color. It's in sobering stories like these, where pain and shock, privilege and smug flippancy can be shown, that sequential art realizes its full potential. With “Between Two Worlds,” COVID Chronicles achieves what it set out to do: put a human face on this pandemic. It's therefore especially disappointing that so many other stories lack oomph.
Despite its missteps, I’m glad COVID Chronicles exists, because an event so totally life-altering cries out for some kind of written record. I imagine, however, that there will be many, many more of these--in all kinds of genres--and they won’t have to work very hard to surpass this one. COVID Chronicles sits squarely in the middle, with three stars, and that may be generous.
I know some people try to put the COVID-19 pandemic in a closed little compartment in their brain as much as possible, but for anyone who wants to read more about how others are getting through these trying times, this collection of short fiction and nonfiction comics is a pretty good place to start. With over 70 contributors, there is quite a wide range of diversity in people and experiences.
Among other things, there are comic diaries, a firsthand account of a COVID-19 survivors, a history of pandemics, and a review of world leaders' handling of the crisis. The pieces about powwow dancing and a funeral director really stood out for me, but there are plenty of good ones to choose from and hardly any clunkers at all, which is quite a feat when you are filling over 250 pages.
Graphic Mundi is a new imprint that is going to be publishing the type of books that have previously been published in the Graphic Medicine series. If you've enjoyed those books in the past, you'll want to watch for this imprint in the future.
One caveat: I get a little paranoid when I see that the creators have donated their work to the anthology and the publisher is donating "a portion of the proceeds" -- an unspecified "portion" -- to a charity. I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the people involved here, but it always gets my hackles up regardless.
Really glad to be a contributor to this first book from Graphic Mundi, the really cool new graphic novel imprint of Penn University Press. There's some terrific work in here and the editor did a great job of sequencing all the disparate POVs into a well-crafted, cohesive whole. I especially liked the stories by Jason Chatfield, Emily Steinberg (Steinburg's naive style drawings particularly appeal to me), Seth Tobacman, Sean Seamus McWhinny, Joe Decie, Lee Marrs, Stephanie Nina Pitsirilos, Sara Firth, Julio Anta w/ Jacoby Salcedo, Maureen Burdock w/ Joanna Regulska, Kay Sonini, Hatiye Garip, and Jay Stephens. The stories range from humorous to thoughtful to enraged. It's best read in several sittings as it brings up a lot of shit (as I write this there is still a looong way to go before we get things back under some semblance of control)—for me one of the best sustained passages is the run of pointedly political comics from pages 190 to 231. Also of note: a portion of the sales of this book go towards the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which helps bookstores, comic shops, and their employees affected by the pandemic, so doubly glad I contributed (and also bought copies for friends).
A collection of 65 one-to-twelve page short comics about the pandemic. There are mini-diaries, humorous anecdotes, critiques of public policy and different national strategies, and informative articles about Japanese yokai, Native American powwow history, and Anthony Fauci himself. As with any anthology, it's a mixed bag: some stories are excellent, others are confusing, dull, or unfocused. I didn't like the whole as much as I wanted to.
The best of the bunch was The Dance of Death, by Peter Dunlap-Shohl. It's almost entirely graphic, depicting Death in a variety of mundane scenes: standing in line at Starbucks, getting patted down at the airport, waving a sign at an anti-mask protest, etc. Elegant.
Covid-19 Diary by Jason Chatfield is another strong entry. The author describes his own bout of covid in a short, tragically entertaining 12-day journal.
“Like ticks those inflated with corruption depend on the sweat and blood of others.”
In many ways Covid is like global warming. Opinion, self-interest and lies routinely outshout scientific fact and environmental issues take second place to economic ones. Like climate change it began as a distant and abstract concept which started as a threat away off in the distance, and something which could only harm “other people” from “other countries” and as we allowed ourselves to sit back and listen to all of those cheating, lying leaders about what was happening, by the time the reality of it hit us, it was already too late and people were dying. We had allowed our arrogant and complacent leaders to get away with criminal negligence.
It is only when our systems are truly tested can we learn how strong they really are, and as the vast majority of the world has found out…it turns out in far too many cases that those systems had been highly ineffective and the people in charge of them deeply incompetent.
Just like the global financial crisis, we found out just how dangerous and dishonest most of the leaders of the world were, and how cowardly they were when it came to doing the right thing. Instead of punishing the guilty, the victims (the most poor and vulnerable) were punished further to protect and reward the guilty.
“This pandemic has exposed and amplified everything that is wrong with our world- obscene wealth disparity, ableism, racism, sexism, bigotry.”
Whether it’s the US Republicans, the British Conservatives or the maniacs in charge of Brazil, Italy, India and many other places, we now know just how incompetent they really are, their approach was so ignorant and reckless that many of these leaders caught the virus too.
As for the book itself, this is a varied collection, made up mostly of American accounts, with the occasional one thrown in from Australia or a German speaking country. There are some interesting ideas and memorable approaches, as well as other ones which don’t work so well. The good thing is that when you come across a stinker, they are so short that another one is never too far away.
I was hesitant to read this but I found it interesting and entertaining. I liked how the artists gave points of view from being a grocery worker to being a front line doctor who actually got COVID. These stories are our norm as of right now. Can't wait to see how kids will react to reading this decades from now.
This second Covid Chronicles short story collection (that came out a few months after the similarly titled Covid Chronicles that was penned by Ethan Sacks and illustrated by Dalibor Talajić ) is an anthology that incorporates many different authors and illustrators. It gives these creators chances to recount their experiences or share commentary about the pandemic to varying degrees of success.
COVID-19 Diary by Jason Charfield
This first story in the collection kicks off with a cartoony day-by-day diary of the author’s experience when he had COVID-19.
Librarying During a Pandemic by Gene Ambaum & Willow Payne
As a librarian, I was of course interested in how other librarians dealt with patrons once they reopened. While I didn’t run into the scenarios illustrated, it was an amusing story.
And This Is How I Leave You by Sean Seamus McWhinny
A poignant recounting of the author’s last days with his mother as she lay dying in a hospital and he was unable to be with her.
Small Acts by Stephanie Pitsirilos & Seth Martel
We can’t save the world, but our small acts of kindness can help. Lovely use of color in one of the best-illustrated stories.
My New Normal: Rinse and Repeat by Rob Kraneveldt & Mike Garcia
A woman goes about her new normal routine and all her issues are swept under the rug in a fake blog entry in which she pretends everything went well that day.
Between Two Worlds by Julio Anta, Jacoby Salcedo & Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Excellent side-by-side comparison of how white people and POC have to deal with authority figures when they start venturing outside during the pandemic. The POC are harassed while whites flaunt the rules with no recourse.
Covid Hardball: World Leaders Step Up To The Plate by Rich Johnson & Eli Neugeboren
Illustrated to look like trading baseball cards, leaders have the facts about their response to the pandemic shared. Trump is vilified (in this story, in addition to a few others throughout the book). Dr. Fauci gets the MVP card.
Same by Jazmine Joyner & John Jennings (the only artist I was familiar with)
A woman locked down in a city apartment begins to experience paranoia and visions. But her cat shows her an alternate way out…
Author/illustrator Rivi Handler-Spitz was given several one-page spreads throughout the entire book, and they were always spot on.
Frankly, I was not a fan of this very uneven collection of 63 stories. I’ve read many other anthologies such as Love is Love, Puerto Rico Strong and Where We Live (the best of the bunch), but this book just didn’t pass muster. Many of the stories lacked depth, were trite or were not illustrated well. I hardly recognized any of the contributors, so while I so appreciate their effort and intentions, readers who want a timely and poignant retelling of the horrible pandemic we all have been suffering under should read the Sacks/ Talajić graphic novel instead. (Actual review 2.5/5)
Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology is an anthology of over sixty comics pertaining to the Covid-19 epidemic edited and collected by Kendra Boileau and Rich Johnson. It is an anthology of over sixty comics as extraordinary circumstances inspire a range of extraordinary artistic response, as this pandemic rages onward.
For the most part, this collection of comics was written and constructed rather well. A wide variety of creators explore the Covid-19 pandemic in this impassioned and impressive anthology, with stories seen through the eyes of frustrated children, exhausted doctors, bereaved sons, and myriad others. Diversity, both of topic and in form, is the volume’s greatest strength: monochrome meditations upon presidential malfeasance sit comfortably alongside pastel satires of virtual schooling.
Like most anthologies there are weaker contributions and Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology is not an exception. Weaker comics bury static drawings in paragraphs of tiny text, which do little more than recite dry facts. Still, the anthology's high points eclipse these missteps. Carried by the stronger pieces, the anthology captures the anxiety, courage, and surrealism of the current standing of the epidemic.
All in all, Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology is an interesting collection of comics in a diverse, impassioned book, these quick responders illustrate the impact of the pandemic with work of lasting value.
As with almost any anthology, it was really hit and miss overall. Some were bordering on cheesy, many were made for kids (which is fine, just not what I expected), but there were also some comics with unique or relatable perspectives. And as with any graphic novel/comic, style of the comic mattered a lot. Attention to the art and detail elevated some "average" stories while the style or sloppy look of others put me off immediately.
Maybe worth a flip through, but of course it will definitely still be in the "too soon" category for many readers. Even if you don't want to check it out immediately, it's kind of wild to remember what we've all collectively been through the last two years. It seems like something I wouldn't have immediately "forgot," but as life is mostly normal now, this really reminded me of certain aspects of quarantine life for myself and others that are already fading in the rear view now. It won't by any means be the best record of this time---I think we will see so many interesting and thought-provoking Covid accounts in years to come. But still, it gives a basic and relatable understanding of the many aspects of this horrible period for generations to come.
an omnibus of comics recollecting the experience and impact of the Covid pandemic, through multiple facets such as financial insecurity, job loss, worsening inequality, synchronic Australian bushfires, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
October 2020 What can we draw out of this moment, when words fail us? In early April, when COVID-19 cases spiked in the US and life as we knew it slipped quietly from view, I sent out a call for short comics to see how comics creators were responding to the pandemic. COVID comics have gone viral these past months on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Digital publications like The Nib and anthologies such as Heroes Need Masks have collected and published pandemic-themed comics.1 It turns out that comics creators have had a lot to say in these exceptional times. This volume, COVID Chronicles, was compiled over the course of six months, from mid-April 2020 to mid-October 2020. It comprises sixty-four short comics that were sent in response to the call or were solicited expressly for this anthology, and in some cases, we have included comics we discovered online. The comics here run the gamut in perspective and style. Some are true, deeply personal stories; others are invented ones, either based on real events or inspired by a vivid imagination. They are documentary, memoiristic, meditative, lyrical, fantastic, and speculative, offering a view onto the countless ways the COVID-19 pandemic has changed lives. There are comics here about getting COVID-19 and recovering from it, about losing someone to it, adjusting to home schooling, being furloughed, working the front lines, getting evicted, reliving past trauma, witnessing police brutality, and protesting for social justice. We see how world leaders measure up (or not) in their efforts to manage the pandemic. As a character in Kay Sohini’s “Pandemic Precarities” says, “this pandemic has exposed and amplified everything that is wrong with our world.” It has exacerbated economic inequalities, inadequate healthcare systems, social injustice, racism, xenophobia, and political hegemony, all of which are pervasive themes in these comics. In short, these comics reveal the pure fear, anxiety, and grief so many of us are experiencing these days—feelings that will no doubt be with us for years to come. Strange, perhaps, for these emotions to resonate so clearly in a medium that people often assume is either directed toward children or there for our amusement. But comics have a history of tackling weighty and mature subjects—and doing it well. Comics expert Hillary Chute reminds us that disaster is deeply rooted in comics, whether it’s in the superhero comics of the Silver Age (from the late 1950s through the ’60s), where the plot often revolves around some calamitous ordeal for the protagonist, or in the themes of more recent nonfiction comics—a classic example being Art Spiegelman’s Maus, which retells his father’s experience in the Holocaust. With the underground movement of the 1960s and ’70s and the rise of alternative comics that took on controversial and taboo topics, the medium has shown itself to be particularly well suited to expressing difficult subject matter. As Chute points out, comics “[make] readers aware of limits, and also possibilities for expression in which disaster, or trauma, breaks the boundaries of communication, finding shape in a hybrid medium.”2 Fast-forwarding to the twenty-first-century comics scene, a more recent movement known as “graphic medicine” has looked to comics to articulate complex or unsettling ideas, especially as they relate to important issues surrounding illness, disability, and healthcare. The term was coined in 2007 by UK physician and comics artist Ian Williams (also a contributor to this volume). Graphic medicine began as an area of study for scholars, educators, practitioners, and artists who saw in the subversive power of comics the ability to challenge prevailing attitudes toward the disabled, the ill, the dying, and those who care for them. In time, and quite rapidly, graphic medicine grew into a movement and a diverse community that includes not only scholars, educators, and practitioners but also people who create comics, people with illness and disabilities, family caregivers, medical students, librarians, and publishers. The movement became as much about the creation and dissemination of comics as about the study of comics, about “merging the personal with the pedagogical, the subjective with the objective,” with the goal of making and using comics to effect cultural change.3 Penn State University Press brought graphic medicine to its list when Susan Squier, now Brill Professor Emerita of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University, introduced me to the crossdisciplinary intersection of comics and medicine. Over the course of a distinguished career in the medical and health humanities, Squier made space for comics in her scholarship and teaching, because they “enable us to enter, imaginatively, a number of complex, ambiguous debates.”4 She joined with other pioneers of graphic medicine to organize an annual conference and to develop the Graphic Medicine book series at Penn State University Press, which she edits with Ian Williams. We launched the series with the Graphic Medicine Manifesto in 2015 and since then have published more than twenty graphic novels in the graphic medicine genre.5 This book, COVID Chronicles, now launches a trade graphic novel imprint at Penn State University Press called Graphic Mundi.6 With the tagline “Drawing Our Worlds Together,” Graphic Mundi will continue the tradition of graphic medicine by giving voice to storytellers who challenge the status quo, enlighten, and inspire in an ever-changing, complex world. Following Squier’s lead, graphic novels published in Graphic Mundi will “‘scale up’ the concept of health,” taking into account the intersecting worlds not only of humans but also of microbes, plants, and non-human animals to highlight our myriad connections.7 In fact, a book like COVID Chronicles is a great example of how graphic medicine so effectively conveys ideas of scale and connection. Documenting what people have experienced for more than half of 2020, it is, to date, the most comprehensive collection of comics about the pandemic. It reveals the shifting scale of the pandemic over time, illustrating how the actions of an invisible microbe have led, in the space of just months, to systemic upheaval, such that we find ourselves now struggling to comprehend the greatest medical, economic, political, and social challenges many of us have had to face in our lifetimes. COVID Chronicles also demonstrates the power of comics to make connections, whether it’s helping people connect their own thoughts in difficult circumstances or helping them connect with one another. Characters in these comics use drawing as a “way to think and feel on the page[, to] try and make some sense of all this,” or they imagine themselves as a comic superhero in an attempt to feel less helpless. One family draws graffiti art to cheer up a neighbor, while another one comes together over a jigsaw puzzle when there’s not much else to do. A whimsical character in these comics embodies the very idea of comics forging community: the Japanese mythical creature Amabie says, “Drawing my picture and sharing it makes people feel connected with each other. A global connection through art!” 8 This kind of connection inspires hope. And there is hope in these pages. In the figure of Amabie and in all the ways these comics show people managing to stay connected during lockdown, keeping businesses open, keeping kids busy, maintaining rituals, starting families, supporting one another—in short, responding in very creative ways to a world out of control. I want to thank the artists, writers, letterers, colorists, and translator who donated their time and talents to this project. We will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation in support of bookstores and their employees whose livelihoods have been upended by COVID-19. Thanks also to Rich Johnson and my wonderful colleagues at Penn State University Press for the unfailing expertise and care they brought to the publication of this book. Finally, I want to thank Susan Squier and my graphic medicine friends, who have drawn me along this path with them, on this remarkable voyage of discovery through comics.
Kendra Boileau Publisher, Graphic Mundi
Notes 1. The Nib, https://thenib.com/; Eddy Hedlington and Greg Smith, Heroes Need Masks (Tacoma, WA: Grit City Comics, 2020). 2. Hillary Chute, Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere (New York: Harper, 2017), 34. 3. MK Czerwiec et al., Graphic Medicine Manifesto (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2015), 2-3. 4. Susan Squier, “Comics and Graphic Medicine as a Third Space for the Health Humanities,” in Routledge Companion to the Health Humanities, ed. Paul Crawford et al. (New York: Routledge, 2020), 61-62. 5. See more on this at https://www.graphicmedicine.org/ and https://www.psupress.org/books/series.... html. 6. See https://www.graphicmundi.org. 7. Squier, “Comics and Graphic Medicine,” 64. 8. For these examples, see the contributions to this volume by Sarah Firth, Justin LaRocca Hansen, Stephanie Nina Pitsirilos and Seth Martel, Kelly Latham, and Zack Davisson and Lili Chin.
(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for illness, death, and crimes against humanity.)
I must have been in an especially masochistic mood when I requested this title on Edelweiss: after all, we're still in the midst of a pandemic and, while an end is in sight (thanks to Pfizer, Moderna, and the Black women and POC organizers who delivered a win to Biden!), we're still looking at another six months+ of isolation, not to mention the ripple effects of systemic racism, unemployment, mass evictions and homelessness, scarcity of health care and the increasing number of uninsured, and the ever-widening wealth gap.
As I write this, Dems in the House are holding a vote on a standalone bill to give qualifying Americans one-time stimulus checks of $2000 (eight months having passed since the first round of $1200 checks), and reports that the TSA screened 2.3 million passengers over the Christmas weekend is a harbinger of the misery still yet to come.
So yeah, reading an anthology of comics about a pandemic while you're still living through it? Maybe not my wisest mental health choice.
For this reason, COVID CHRONICLES is a hard one to rate. Like many anthologies, it's a bit of a mixed bag: some of the artwork, stories, and ideas resonated with me more than others. Its greatest strength is its breadth and diversity of perspectives, including its focus not just on the micro but also the macro. While the collection includes plenty of personal stories - memoirs, narratives based on true stories, and fictional accounts - some of the authors pull their lenses back, for example, comparing different countries' pandemic responses, or placing the COVID-19 pandemic in a historic context. (S.I. Rosenbaum and Arigon Starr's poingant piece on "How to Have a Powwow in a Pandemic" comes to mind.")
Nearly all of the stories are nonfiction(ish), which is why the lone SF tale really jumped out at me ("Same," written by Jazmine Joyner). It also tickles me that I can spot John Jennings's artwork from the first panel!
I tend to base around 50% of a book's rating on how it made me feel. On the one hand, COVID CHRONICLES gave me a sense of belonging and connectedness; it made me feel a little less alone. (As a single person who's been riding this thing out solo, with only a flagging senior dog and an a-hole cat for company, it's been rough.) But it's also depressing AF and triggered more than one breakdown.
While COVID CHRONICLES is certainly an important historical artifact, it comes with a pretty big content warning, especially if you're struggling as it is.
This compilation mixes both snapshots of personal experiences—some of them really good—with short stories that aimed to summarize the whole thing with little to no success. Graphically, there are very high quality works and other NICK-like cartoons that I chose to hate.
But what are compilations if not a fanesca of what’s good and bad with rushing publishers and talented editors. What I do tell you is that there is enough material for a shorter five-star compilation (featuring mostly lived experience of comic artists and not so much adaptations or scripted fables).
*2.5 Stars I think maybe I'm just too close to this. This will be a great graphic anthology for people years from now to look back on the pandemic and quarantine, and so I'm glad it's out there. But as an anthology, there were many I enjoyed and many I didn't, and I found myself mostly skimming the last 50 to 100 pages, especially as I found a lot of the stories to be saying similar things. It just gets repetitive and also is...for lack of a better term, a bit of a downer. Obviously, I'm not rating it lower for being sad, though. I guess maybe if I had read this in a few years, it may have hit differently, but these are my feelings right now. I did love seeing Brenna Thummler and the creators of Unshelved in there!
Nice miscellanea collection of stories, all of them revolving (of course) around COVID-19; some are uplifting, some are depressing, but these are the times we live in.
Extra half point for the historic value, since these sure are relatable for everyone, one way or another, though it would be interesting to get another collection after this one, since the timeline here is quite short for what the actual thing was/is being. (It was compiled on six months, from mid-April 2020 to mid-October 2020, so we've lived through another two years of COVID since... Imagine that!).
I appreciate what this collection was trying to do, but it raised a key question for me: How much time needs to pass before an author has gained enough perspective to write about an event?
In the case of this book? Not enough time had elapsed. Not only did the pandemic take more twists and turns (and continues to twist and turn) since the publication of this book, rendering the short-sighted optimism naive, but most of the comics also felt like mere reporting. I craved more reflection and meaning-making...but perhaps I as the reader, too, am still too near to the events to have the necessary perspective to appreciate these comic versions of the pandemic.
A few favorites: - "The Iron Lung in the Enders Lab" - "Apocalypse of Ignorance" - "Librarying During a Pandemic" - "Puzzling Together" - "Between Two Worlds" - "A New Reality"
A great compilation of graphic medicine tableaus. The anthology covers a diversity of experiences from the earliest days of covid, all before the introduction of the vaccine. As covid is likely to never fully go away and we readers have all been here to experience the beginnings of the pandemic, reading this historical documentation will make you flashback to your own memories--the good and the bad.
It's a good read about a permanent change in world history.
For an anthology that focused on heavy topics such as COVID deaths and bigotry, almost none of the comics were really that impressive or memorable, nor did they resonate with me in a deep, meaningful way despite sharing some of the same circumstances with many of the artists during the pandemic.
This was much less compelling than Eli Saslow's collection of interviews, "Voices from the Pandemic: Americans Tell Their Stories of Crisis, Courage and Resilience." This comic anthology seems to mostly come from people stuck in their homes, whiling the days away instead of first responders, front line workers, and people who actually get COVID or lose someone to COVID. I have a difficult time getting into Western-style comics, so I didn't find much of the art that interesting or groundbreaking.
COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology by Kendra Boileau
COVID Chronicles by Kendra Boileau is an absolute must read for all ages. This graphic novel explores and reveals the feelings and conflicts happening across the world during the most recent pandemic. The book has a very unique and refreshing construction, as it is made out of over sixty different short comics from a wide variety of diverse creators. This offers a unique perspective from each story as you read because the pandemic affected all of us, but it affected individuals in certain settings more than it did others. The book goes on to question the government’s actions to fight back against this virus and whether the precautions enforced were adequate enough to combat the virus. Throughout the book, you will feel as if you are on an emotional rollercoaster because each short article expresses the feelings of a different author in a different setting. Being able to bring all of these together into one body of work, truly allows for the topic of the pandemic to be widely covered and explained through the lenses of many people in different places. Additionally, this also adds a sense of authenticity to the piece because it just isn’t one person words. I really enjoyed skimming through the COVID Chronicles because personally, I have never read through a book that has been constructed out of multiple author’s writings on the same topic. I think this is a very unique and awesome way to incorporate multiple perspectives to allow the reader to decide what they wish to take away from the text. Furthermore, many people experienced very rough times during the pandemic so through sharing the feelings of oneself, it may have benefitted the mental state of another by allowing them to know they are not the only ones experiencing this horrible time in history. It is times like this, where we must come together as a community to connect with one another to restore faith back in society. Our society has always been very competitive with one another, but this pandemic as allowed a select few to realize the value in uniformity and coming together as one, and through the COVID Chronicles, Kendra Boileau does a wonderful job encompassing that through constructing this body of work. I would highly recommend this to all readers and all nonreaders. It is an easy read and a book you can go through at your own pace, so when you get a chance, pick it up and see which story you connect with the most. Rate-10/10
I loved this compilation. I was engaged through practically all the comics (this is very hard to do in an anthology of this size!). The authors had some monotony with themes (but that's kind of understandable as all authors were discussing the same disease). However, the artwork, portray and focus were all quite unique. More importantly, the comics showed although we were united in experiencing the global pandemic the effect was not equal. The most impactful comics were the ones by Black, brown, disabled and poor voices. These authors highlighted the disproportionate burden their communities were facing with the virus. Overal, great compilation.
"Powwow is not static - it continues to evolve. Each and every year. We adapt... [With COVID] he announced this year powwow would be online" (S.I. Rosenbaum p.108)
"Alongside the devastation of the COVID-19 curve is the curve of corruption - of unchecked might and wealth. It feeds on deep social injustices. No mask of soap can touch this curve" (Maureen Burdock, p.205)
"Self-care is very important in these modern times. Don't tell anyone, but I'm not 100% sure what it means. It's quite exhausting trying to get it right. Perhaps I'm doing it wrong. It's a worry." (Decie, 233)
I think anthologies are always very hard to pull off, and Covid Chronicles didn't quite manage to do it. This collection is exceedingly timely, but it suffers for it as many of the entries are lackluster, repetitive, and in sore need of editing. Don't get me wrong, there are good entries in this book, but unfortunately they are outnumbered 5 to 1 easily. When you come across one it does feel a little like finding a diamond in the rough.
The idea behind creating an anthology on COVID-19 is awesome, I just think this book was rushed out too fast and as a result lacked the refinement a successful anthology needs.
Brilliant (and expertly curated) collection filled with endless talent from cartoonists from all over. Myriad styles and storytelling techniques are in this anthology yet it proves we’re all one. While difficult to look at while we’re still living through this once in a lifetime event, this book shines thanks to its inclusion of so many different perspectives and will likely become a gold standard reference for those studying what it was like during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.