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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

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

I had Covid last December. I must have caught it just before Thanksgiving and then spread it to my daughter, who tested positive at work the following Monday, closing down her pre-school in the process. I had some mild symptoms, but I thought they were a reaction to the booster I received the day before traveling. I got a negative test before traveling too. I tested again afterwards, since my daughter was positive, and sure enough, so was I. It took me longer than it should have to figure out the direction of infection, tracing it back to someone else who had tested negative before traveling only to come down with symptoms afterwards too. The coincidence of getting the booster on the same day as my first symptoms scrambled my employer’s Covid protocols, and so I was placed in an excessively long quarantine. It was the pandemic, so I couldn’t really complain. I spent ten days upstairs in my house commuting between my daughter’s former bedroom and my son’s former bedroom, with pitstops in the bathroom between. I made one daily trip to the kitchen, but otherwise relied on the kindness of my wife’s food deliveries. I watched some disturbing TV, while worrying obsessively about the possibility that I had given my father and/or step-mother Covid during Thanksgiving too. I also completed the following image sequence, which I gave the uninspiring title “December 2021.” I’m now renaming it “Delta in December.” It further develops some of my earlier experiments with text as texture (there’s an impossible-to-reconstruct Picasso deep in the there too). The sequence feels like an artifact from an increasingly repressed and so distant apocalypse. By some counts, the total number of Covid deaths in the U.S. has already surpassed a million; by others we’re merely around 985,000.

According to the definition of the comics form in my forthcoming The Comics Form: The Art of Sequenced Images, the following 3×3 arrangement of the above images may be in the comics form and so is arguably a kind of comic as formally defined. But it depends on whether “sequence” requires a set viewing order, and if without a set viewing order an arrangement is simply an arrangement, and so not a sequence, and so not in the comics form, and so not a comic, formally or otherwise. More confusingly, some works in the comics medium include arrangements that don’t have set viewing orders and so aren’t formally comics even though they may be comics according to publishing context. Like a lot of things, I think it may come down to viewer perception.

This is my favorite diptych from the sequence.

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