Comics/Graphic Novels

Comix Chronicling the Time of COVID-19

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As COVID-19 spreads, many writers have reported an understandable brain freeze. Yes, Shakespeare probably wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Anthony and Cleopatra under quarantine. But he didn’t have Twitter to contend with.

If you want to read nonfiction about pandemics, Lily Dunn has you covered. But what about artists and writers chronicling their journey with COVID-19 in an interesting way?

I’ve found a few.

Among the first to start up corona diaries were—unsurprisingly—Lebanese comix artists. Many of today’s Lebanese comix artists grew up being locked in during the country’s 15-year civil war. Several have written beautiful graphic novels about this time. These include Zeina Abirached (A Game for Swallows, tr. Edward Gauvin) and Lamia Ziade (Bye Bye Babylon, translated by Olivia Snaije).

Graphic novelist and musician Mazen Kerbaj kept a brilliant online journal at the time of the 2006 invasion of Beirut. It was later gathered into a wonderful book, published first in French and Arabic. Finally, it came out in English as Beirut Won’t Cry.

Since I subscribe to Kerbaj’s emails, I got a note about his new “Corona Diaries.”

1. Mazen Kerbaj’s “The Corona Diaries” (Lebanon)

Coronavirus is not centered in Lebanon. However, Kerbaj can still be counted on for visceral and interesting emotion about both the banal and the frightening. Also, Lebanon has recently been shaken both by popular protests and a worsening economic emergency.

2. Lina Ghaibeh’s “Karantina Lina” (Lebanon)

Lina Ghaibeh is a professor at the American University in Beirut and a comix artist. I found out about her “Karantina Lina” on Twitter.

Although Lebanon’s internet is infamously bad—and purposefully kept that way—surely many can relate to the difficulties of teaching online “in a WIFI unfriendly zone.”

You can follow Karantina Lina on Facebook.

3. RBT: “Living Among the Growing Numbers” (South Korea)

I was pleased to find this online comic by “RBT” about life in South Korea during the Coronavirus outbreak.

This online comic was launched at the end of February. The flattened style is particularly good at communicating the uncertainty of the times.

4. Lody Njiokiktjien’s “Introverts and Corona” (Netherlands)

Should she? Shouldn’t she? She seems to have decided: yes.

5. DomArcher’s “COVID-19/COMICS-20” (Russia)

DomArcher, a British comix artist in Moscow, has a different project.

Currently, they are putting out a call for artists to participate in “COVID-19/COMICS-20.” They write: “We’re creating a webcomic with 3 weekly releases for 14 weeks that looks to educate and empathize over #COVID2019. These 42 comics will then be curated into an anthology and all profits donated to charity.”

6. Corona (VS) Comics! (Italy)

Italy is at the current epicenter of the virus. The comix community responded to the shutdown with Corona (vs) Comics, which they’re calling the first online comix show.

The show is set to take place March 25–28, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, on the social platforms of It Comics, Twitch and Facebook. They promise live interactions with more than 30 authors and publishers.

Many artists have also drawn beautiful single-panel images. A few of my favorites are by Maya Fidawi and Wanda Mirjana. You can find more searching #CoronaComic.