Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexican comics scholar Ernesto Priego instigated The Lockdown Chronicles: A Comic Strip Quarantine, an empathetic yet hard-hitting graphic series that took scenes from the past and reappropriated them for our newly dark times. From Julian of Norwich to Richard Rolle, Priego sought to combine historical analogy with a popular graphic mode, to speak truths that others were unwilling to hear.
Originally published online during the early days of the pandemic, The Lockdown Chronicles is series of comic strips, documenting and commenting on the COVID-19 Pandemic from a UK perspective, made made reusing freely-available, openly-licensed or public domain items from news sources, digital collections and open data resources.
The commentary ranges from the subjects of gender disparity in pandemic outcomes (via Emmeline Pankhurst) through the tedium of isolation (thanks to Emily Dickinson), up to the refusal of governments to listen to science (in Arthur Conan Doyle).
Now, the first series of The Lockdown Chronicles will be released in print by Good Comics, a UK-based independent publisher and distributor of comics, zines and graphic novels, on 1st November 2021, providing a real-life documentation of artmaking from inside the end times.
The Lockdown Chronicles, featuring 40 strips, is now available for pre-orders, with orders being sent out on Monday 1st November. The first 15 orders will receive a limited edition trading card handmade by Ernesto.
“If we were wise, we might pay attention to Priego’s messages,” suggests Martin Paul Eve, Birkbeck, University of London, “to listen to the voices from inside these graphic forms.”
A senior lecturer at City, University of London, Ernesto Priego, who co-founded and co-edits The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, has been actively promoting the study and practice of comics since the early 1990s. He has a keen interest in open access to information and the importance of documentation, design, participation, reuse, and the preservation of memory. He leads the Parables of Care: Responses to Dementia Care project, co-designing, with Simon Grennan and Peter Wilkins, comic books on the experience of dementia care (2017-2020).
Comics have also influenced his poetic practice; he is the author of Not Even Dogs: Hay(na)ku Poems (2006); the amazing adventures of Gravity & Grace (2008); The Present Day: The Mañana Poems (2010), and The Strip Hay(na)ku Project: A Collaborative Experiment in Sequential Graphic Poetics (2019). He has also collaborated with comics artist Francisco de la Mora in co-designing comics on access to information, Covid, and disability.
“This book is the result of the convergence of many of my interests,” says Ernesto. “Digital research methdologies, reuse of openly or freely available digital cultural heritage resources, documentation, online publishing, conceptual design, and, dare I say it, comic strips.”
Lockdown Chronicles Launch Event has pertinent, poignant date
Good Comics will be marking the launch of the new book on Tuesday 2nd November 2021 at 7.00pm GMT with an online event. Tickets are free, but registration is required. You can register here.
“November the 2nd is Mexican Day of the Dead,” he notes. “As a Mexican, this is a deeply significant day for me – a day for reflection and remembrance, to celebrate heritage, our shared past, and the lasting legacy of the departed, their influence on our present and our future”.
The event will comprise of a panel including fellow scholars, along with Dr Paddy Johnston from comics publisher and distributor Good Comics for a panel discussion on comics and quarantine along with a toast to the book.
Launched in 2015 with the first issue of the Dead Singers Society anthology zine, Good Comics is a UK-based independent publisher and distributor of comics, zines and graphic novels, run by a team of three cartoonists who met through the UK comics scene, Paddy Johnston, Samuel C. Williams and Rozi Hathaway.
Since its inception, the team have added new talent in comics to their roster each year. All about great stories, distinct voices, and unique talents, their aim is to nurture new talent in comics and bring new voices to the community of independent comics, in the UK and internationally.
• The Lockdown Chronicles is now available for pre-orders, with orders being sent out on Monday 1st November
• Tickets to the online The Lockdown Chronicles launch event are free, but registration is required. You can register here
• Ernesto Priego is online at ernestopriego.com | Follow him on Twister @ernestopriego
• Good Comics is online at www.goodcomics.co.uk. If you’d like to find out more about them, have a look at this presentation, which they gave at the Laydeez Do Comics festival in 2020
• Catch up with The Lockdown Chronicles series online at epriego.blog/tag/the-lockdown-chronicles/
Excepting any third-party material, Ernesto’s comic strip, The Lockdown Chronicles, is licensed CC-BY-NC-SA
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