"Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology" is a graphic novel with comics about the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 280 pages long, it has 64 comic strips featuring some aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic, some a single page long, while others are much longer. Some are personal stories, while others describe the history of the pandemic from an objective viewpoint. The art styles vary widely, from simple zine style line drawings to fully colored stories that could fit in a mainstream comic book. The book was published in 2021, but many of the comics are from the early days of the pandemic, from March to June of 2020.
I liked this collection, and I especially liked the diversity of art styles and storytelling methods, which could communicate both the emotional impact of Covid-19, and how it changed society. Some of the stories managed to use surreal art styles to show the effects of Covid-19, which could sometimes have unusual symptoms such as confusion and disturbed thinking. But some of the art work was realistic and showed the stark realities of things like intubation. The book also addresses related social concerns, including the Black Lives Matter movement, which coincided with the pandemic. It is quite a swirl of stories and topics, that captures the improbable era of the early days of the pandemic. Reading it made me remember how confusing that first 12 weeks of the pandemic was.
Which is somewhat of a problem: in terms of Covid-19, even 2021 is now ancient history. The anthology doesn't really cover anything after the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccines, and the even more bizarre culture war that sprouted up with vaccine refusal and the Delta and Omicron Variants. As surreal and frightening as these stories were to read, they seem charmingly naive from my current point of views. Related to that, many of the strips focus on populust economic subjects, which seems slightly unsettling now, since much resistance to the vaccine and health mandates was also fueled by a type of economic populism.
Covid-19 is still a new thing, although it seems like 2020 was a long time ago. Although this comics anthology just shows the initial creations of artists coming to terms with a changed world, it is probably a sign of the beginning of an entire art and literature that expresses what the pandemic is like.