Comics in Transit: Post-Pandemic Hopes
Updated December 2, 2021
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About the Project
Comics in Transit: Post-Pandemic Hopes is a public art project with The Cloudscape Comics Society, a graphic novel publisher in Vancouver, that uses comics to reflect on the past 18 months in the pandemic. Local artists worked with Vancouverites to produce comics that tell the story of the individual’s experience during the pandemic, with themes ranging from isolation and loneliness to Anti-Asian Racism. The comics were made with the goal of displaying them in bus shelters across the city to bring colour to public transit. Please note that the comics are no longer on display – we are working to make them available digitally.
The result of this collaboration is seven bus shelter-sized comics that speak to the universal and personal experience of the pandemic, displayed across Granville Island (and in bus shelters across the city later this month). Each comic (listed below) tells one stand-alone story from a Vancouver citizen, their experience of the pandemic and looks at how we can connect and find solace with others, and imagine a more resilient and compassionate future.
- “A Little Local Cheer” by Joni Taylor and Ramond Nakamura
- “Three Stories of Anti-Asian Racism in B.C.” by Janice Liu and project 1907
- “Grocer Grief” as told by Rachel Smith
- “Let’s Start from Here” by Jonathon Dalton and Elli Taylor
- “A Return to Play” by Oliver McTavish-Wisden and Lori Snyder
- “With or Without Words” as told by Jeffrey Ellis and Scarlet Wings Kaili
- “We Stand Alone” by Alina Pete and Kung Jaadee
More detailed descriptions of each comic, book pairings, and other information can be found on the Cloudscape Comics website here. A map of where to find the comics on Granville Island is at the bottom of this page. We will also be regularly updating this page with events and programming related to this project.
Why did we work on comics about the pandemic and what has it got to do with heritage?
On October 4, seven posters, each telling one stand-alone story in comic form about an experience of the pandemic, were put up on across Granville Island. On October 18th, another seven posters will also be installed at bus shelters across Vancouver.
These comics are part of Cloudscape Comic’s Comics in Transit series and this year we were able to partner with them to produce Comics in Transit: Post Pandemic Hopes. This collaboration to explore how we connect and find solace with others and imagine a more resilient and compassionate future is a big part of Heritage Vancouver’s pandemic themed programming. Drawn by talented BC comic artists to capture the stories of a diverse group of people, the topics range from mental health to street outreach in the Downtown Eastside, Anti-Asian racism, to frontline grocery store work, and isolation and longing for community.
During our recent Pandemic-era city walking tour, someone commented that we dared to ask, “what is heritage even?” For us, we value our independence to think critically about our field of work and to challenge assumptions. We believe we need to constantly think about questions like this so that our practice of heritage is connected to what is relevant right now in the world around us.
What’s the role of a heritage organization during the pandemic?
This quote from David Lowenthal, a historian and geographer who made heritage a field of study, helped us think carefully about this question and our work related to the pandemic, including this comic series we are a part of:
Care for what we inherit requires active embrace of what we add to it. To conserve the past is never enough; good caretaking involves continual creation… The future may be better served by inheriting from us not specific material relics but knowledge of traditional creative skills, institutions in good working order, and habits of resilience in coping with the uncertain vicissitudes of existence.
From The Heritage Crusade and Its Contradictions in the book Giving Preservation a History
Heritage Vancouver draws on different sources of knowledge to help us think about our work. When those sources are theoretical like academic writing can be, we make sure we always translate theory to the real world. Our pandemic programming is an application of Lowenthal’s idea.
For many of us working in heritage, you will know that critiques of our field have challenged us to know the difference between telling and listening. For us, this has been a very valuable experience of listening and learning from others about what has meaning to them. We were fortunate to gain the trust of everyone who told us their very personal stories so that we could be a part of presenting their stories.
We hope these stories spark a compassionate imagination of those different from ourselves: a grocery store clerk lost in a sea of emotions, how a child feels when experiencing racism, or how vulnerable people can become when disconnected from each other. Our hope is that the comics can help one think about what we can create and cultivate during this pandemic to cope with the uncertainties of daily life: the empathy, resilience and small gestures that add to our lives and communities that will retain meaning in the future.
These comics, and all our work, are meant for the widest audience possible so that we can all think about heritage and our common stories in ways that need to be more emphasized.
If you have questions about this project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Thank you.
All photos by Ben Geisberg