COVID-19: Conversation through Comics

by Olivia Columbo and Maddie Rose Notarini

Olivia Columbo:

I felt like there were so many situations I could choose, so many stories I could tell… but only six panels! I started thinking about MAUS and the journals, and how important memories, dates, and tangible remembrance of the past it, particularly when we’re talking about trauma. I was thinking about our current narrative of moving off-campus, and I came up with a story that meshes those two elements.

I’m in the Liturgy Arts Group (LAG) which is a very tight-knit community (family!) in Campus Ministry that provides all the music for campus liturgies. Last March, we lost one of our beloved seniors to suicide. We’ve been bracing ourselves all year, missing him every day, waiting for that first anniversary to roll around. All of a sudden, we make it to March 2020, we start planning how we’re going to remember our brother and friend, and then that opportunity was ripped away from us. It hurt so badly in the days leading up to March 25 to know that we would not be together, in our office in Campus Ministry, just as we were a year ago when our campus minister and BC’s grief counselor told us the news. But, we innovated. We picked up and kept going–– and somehow Zoom became our best option. And honestly, it was the best Zoom I’ve ever been on. We sang Pat’s favorite hymns, LAG alumni gave speeches, campus ministers talked, we got to share and listen to Pat’s parents and family. We got to be our little BC family that we always are–– it just looks different for all of us right now.

Maddie Rose Notarini:

My comic, like many others, is a telling of my experience after coming home when school was canceled because of coronavirus. Specifically, I wrote it based off a journal entry I wrote a few days ago after Washington D.C. issued a stay at home order. Though I had felt extremely prepared to stay quarantined at home, like many other introverts and readers of the like, I found out that I still definitely need human interaction. This realization come with the inability to leave my house except for food/pharmacy runs and I’ve started to feel like a caged bird. As I said during the final panel of my comic, however, I feel it is really important to try and keep the most positive outlook possible. Even though things look bleak, it will get better. I think I included that panel in the comic to remind others, but also to remind myself of that.

I was inspired by Spiegelman’s use duel use of narration and dialogue, and I tried my best to include both. Expanding upon that, I thought it might be interesting to include thoughts, especially as most of my comic is an introspection. In addition, I really like how Spiegelman alternates his drawings. For instance, he’ll draw one panel and then in the next, even if it is essentially the same scene, he would draw it from a distance, a close-up, or of something related to what was being said instead of drawing the same scene with different facial expressions. I found this gave the comic the ability to hold my attention for a really long period of time and not get even slightly bored by the drawings. I tried to do this with m 3rd panel (including an iPad with zoom) and my fifth panel with books.