COMICS TO THE RESCUE
National Geographic Traveller India|October 2020
A BOOKSHOP IN NEW YORK CITY ASKED PEOPLE TO IMAGINE A UTOPIAN WORLD AFTER COVID-19. HUNDREDS OF COMIC ARTISTS ACROSS THE WORLD GOT BACK, FORMING THE INSTAGRAM ART PROJECT, ‘RESCUE PARTY’
Kareena Gianani
Hong Kong-based cartoonist Kaitlin Chan’s (@chen_jiaxian) future—more specifically her post-pandemic utopia—is peppered with these images: a vow to not judge PDA-ing couples on the metro, to make time to ogle hot waiters who smoke outside, and a world where her fellow Hongkongers can go back to having their enemies cursed (in a traditional local ritual). Once again.

On the other side of the world, Peruvian illustrator Jolos Carsé (@jolos—) draws a future full of huggers, where we hug so frequently and fiercely that it’d be common for our arms to be afflicted with a condition called ‘hugsored.’ “People will start hugging with any limb they can grab,” he wishes, “until everyone becomes a twirly mass—of care and affection.”

Chan and Carsé are among 300-plus artists from over 30 countries who answered an open call for short comics about an imagined utopic future after COVID-19. Their panels are part of a whimsical, wonderful Instagram art project, Rescue Party (@rescueparty2020), curated by a Brooklyn-based comics bookstore, Desert Island.

ART, SHARED FREELY

“In April, I was alone in my quarantine cabin, feeling somewhat despondent, missing other people and wishing for connection and positivity,” says Desert Island’s founder, Gabe Fowler. He hoped the prompt he sent out into the world would return with comforting thoughts through art, shared freely on the internet. At first, entries trickled in slowly, but a week later Fowler’s inbox was flooded daily with 10 or more wishful, cheeky, heartwarming comics. Like little haikus of hope, they brought to him stories of a shared reality that regular folk living in Goa, Lisbon, Argentina, Indonesia, Tokyo, and beyond were experiencing; and a feeling that they were all holding the same wishbone for the future.

I begin scrolling through Rescue Party’s Instagram page, an Aladdin’s cave of ideas and endearing quirks of people trying to find their balance as the world pirouettes out of control. Keeping in line with the theme, many comics are about hope—Jane Demarest’s (@little.boy.blueeee) bold, jaunty characters yearn for “stuff to go back to normal” already, like when people bumped into each other at the sidewalk and swore, bad dates with bad kisses, or times when we felt tongue-tied when someone knocked on our bathroom stall. Some ‘hopes’ are a hoot. Noah Pierce (@theinkisthelife) imagines a future where birds rejoice the death of humans, those “flightless dopes who think they’re so cute and clever, but really they're f***in everything up.” The Earth belongs to the birds—they can finally write their memoirs in peace, grow trees on highways, and burn cities down as they see fit.

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