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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

Did I mention that I co-wrote a graphic novel about a pandemic?

My collaborator, Carolyn Capps, and I finished it in November, as the very first CV-19 cases were occurring in China. Our pandemic has a supernatural edge, so the coincidence feels disturbingly non-coincidental. In our defense, we’d been working on the book for five years. The inspiration was Ebola and the epidemic that devastated West Africa through 2015. We originally planned our story to take place there, but then moved it to Charlottesville, Virginia. Last I checked Albemarle county has had nineteen hospitalized CV-19 cases, including nine deaths. Our graphic novel depicts something significantly worse.

Still, it’s more than a little weird to look at the images of our patient zero (who I played in the photo shoots Carolyn later used as source material for her drawings) emanating swirls of infection as he wanders Charlottesville’s not-yet-empty streets. Unlike with CV-19, our version of the Charlottesville hospital did get swamped with patients, including the doctor leading the response (played by Carolyn in those same photo shoots). The images of the walking mall returning to post-pandemic business hasn’t quite happened yet, but at least we are in phase one of reopening. Our fictional virus didn’t need a vaccine, just the recognition of the God-like entity accidentally inflicting it on us. It was just trying to say a cosmic hello.

Our main character is a recluse who only leaves her home to shop when her kitchen is empty. Unfortunately we all can relate to that now too. A literary agent in London has taken an interest in the project and is planning to show it to some UK publishers. Of course London is still largely in lockdown, so that wheel is moving very very slowly too.

The novel has gone through several massive mutations, but here are some early and very rough two-page spreads from a draft we mocked-up before incorporating words. I shot them on my phone to get an idea of how the pages paired. They’re not in order, but they give you a little sense of the parallel pandemic that’s been in my head for several years now:












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