Late as usual, but later than ever, here’s finally that cartoon I’d been teasing with (here) in the last days of 2020. In my defense, I have to say it was mostly ready in time for the December 31st deadline, but due to recent developments, I’ve been considering whether it would be timely or not. Back in early Summer, when the pandemic seemed to have been more or less successfully contained -at least in the part of the Globe where I live-, I thought this might be an image that reminded us of how we made it through tough times which were fortunately over. Numbers rapidly increasing since mid-December, and a slower vaccination process than we had hoped for made me reconsider it. But in the face of a, perhaps not imminent -but more likely as day goes by- lockdown, I finally decided to dig it up.
As someone who was on the receiving end of the 2008 crisis (2009 in my case), I can’t but be particularly aware that I’ve been amongst the lucky ones in this one we, unfortunately, just started. So far. Back in March, I ironized in my column for Arquine (in this issue; I’ll soon make it available online), titled ‘The Art of Living (Inside)’ that I, as many other cartoonists, hadn’t really noticed much of a change during the lockdown: spending the entire day at home, beholding the outside World through the computer screen and communicating with other people via social media is pretty much a regular day for most of us. Heck, endless hours of watching TV series, old films, and reading is a dream come true for us, nerds. We’ve been getting ready for this our entire life. Now, lame attempts at joking aside, I must admit that, together with my training, it helped that I lived through a not very severe lockdown: as an academic, my job was unaffected in a broad sense. Of course, changes had to be made, especially when you’re teaching a Film & Architecture course where part of the point is to watch and discuss films in the classroom. Certainly, the experience was not the same for my students, and I had to fill those hours with other materials that ended up taking a lot of my time.
However, that’s a really minor issue in the context of things: I was lucky enough to have few teaching hours and a small group of students, all of which made it more than feasible. In the end, I was able to go on with my teaching and get paid at the end of the month; none among my beloved ones were affected by the disease, and my two dogs, both the old one and the little Labrador we adopted a few weeks before everything exploded, kept me from sleeping all night through, but also allowed me to go for short walks that made those three months much easier. [I won’t comment on how soothing occasional empty streets are to irredeemable grumpy misanthropes like me]. My only quip, and I’m the only one to blame for it, is that I was less productive than most of my colleagues, who seemed to have used this prolonged time at their home offices to finally get to grips with some long-postponed personal projects, create brand new ones, or produce work to entertain others during lockdown. In my case, outside my usual collaborations with Arquine (this time making it on to the cover, though), which I plan to post here in the next few months, I just managed to finished a cartoon about Mextropoli 2018 (which had been in the works since March of that year), do a couple variations on the Coronamaison Challenge (here, and here, plus an unfinished third one), and respond to an invitation from the Architectural Review -that was a fun (and time consuming) one! I also made available my homage to Robert Crumb (and an article about his famous cartoon), but that had been produced in 2019, so it doesn’t count. Also, I gave a couple of conferences (here and here), was one of the speakers at an online course about architecture and drawing. And, together with a Happy New Year toon (ya see I have lowered my goals) , I was able to produce a Christmas cartoon again after many years without (and scratch an itch that had been there for a while). But again, those took place either before or after the lockdown. Oh, well. First World problems.
So, if you belong in my group, please, don’t complain, show some empathy for those who were less fortunate than you, be responsible, and enjoy what you have. This will be over, sooner or later, and you’ll be able to go on with your life more or less as it was before. Be glad about it.