By Peter S. Conrad (attemptednotknown.com)
ISBN: 979-8-589501-56-8 (Digest PB)
Peter Conrad (Markdown Dreams; Love, Death and DRIVING; Vidrio CafÃ©) is an artist, designer and author working in San Francisco, and one of those bold, diligently disciplined creative souls who maintain some form of cartoon journal. Last year was pretty remarkable for everyone, so rather than keep all those pictorial observations to himself and his intimate circle, he opted to publish and share his experiences.
The result is this captivating monochrome paperback (available through Amazon and on Kindle) which invites us into the life of a rather sedentary couple, who became – like all of us in non-critical occupations and services – passive observers and commentators on life in a total bollock of a yearâ€¦
In gentle tones, and while never really surrendering a sense of wondrous bewilderment, Conrad details the intimate side of enforced self-internment for people like all of us, with the reader doubtless remarking â€œyep, we did thatâ€ or â€œnope! Not usâ€, while also detailing that other stuff happened tooâ€¦
While remarking on celebrity fatalities – as opposed to disease-induced deaths – such as Kobe Bryant, and personal losses he lists other inescapable communal acts we all mostly lived through. There’s civic insouciance; cancelled plans; loss of social contact, murder hornets (!); the social niceties of quarantining; new hobbies and occupations; unexpected consequence of â€œstaying fitâ€ and the general lulling of human expectation, before the artist hones in on how everything changes after the murder of George Floyd seized the world’s attentionâ€¦
Certainly, for the Conrads and their neighbours, life was a little more dramatic. Having to sit pat for riots on the streets of San Francisco (Black Lives Matter), endure how stressed people legally owning guns relieve tensions, vote in another – hopefully final – election involving the Orange Idiot in Chief, and barely escaping California’s worst fire season since the last – or next – one, totally trumps my part of scenic Kent enduring Brexit-inspired traffic chaos, but I suspect we all feel each other’s pain hereâ€¦
Or maybe not.
Simultaneously encompassing and embracing stifling ennui and radical change, mass death and truly global lack of leadership, this superb graphic memoir laves on a laudable everyman perspective to the best and worst of times; serving to confirm that when we finally reach the actual apocalypse, we won’t have learned a damn thing and will still make the same mistakes againâ€¦
With any luck, there will also be books like this on to remind us that empathy, grace and hope are also parts of the human condition.
Â© 2021 by Peter S. Conrad. All rights reserved.