When the comic tells about the first wave of the coronavirus

The second wave of the coronavirus is not only health, it is also editorial. Among the many publications that have emerged this fall are three comics, between illustrated testimony and comic strip report, on the health crisis as it was experienced from the inside. Two medical interns, the head of an infectious disease department and a press cartoonist suffering from Covid-19 recount the daily lives of nursing staff in the logbook mode.

ANALYSIS – Thinking in times of pandemic

In Fucking Covid (Hachette Comics, 96 p., € 14.95), two anonymous interns working in intensive care and emergency services in Paris and in the region deliver a raw and unvarnished account of their days and nights of hard work.

Graphically very poor, the drawings of Védécé (for VDC or Vie de Carabin), who became known in 2013 with a collection of his memories of a medical student, are more than sketchy, the characters all having a black head and a very limited range of expression.

The book does not shine either by the literary style which is very close to the spoken language interspersed with medical jargon (duly explained at the end of the book). But the harshness of their testimony, served by short sentences going straight to the point, gives the album an undeniable sincerity and strength. Panting and distressing, their story places the reader at the heart of hospitals, alongside colleagues who crack at the end of endless guards, and at the bedside of patients between life and death that we sometimes refuse in intensive care …

Indignant, the two young doctors wonder about the future of the health system, pointing out the inconsistencies of the political discourse, in particular on the question of the masks.

Much more polished, The doctor (Stock, 192 p., € 18.50) recounts in the form of a real comic strip the six months which saw the birth of the coronavirus through the eyes of two women, a doctor and her patient. The latter, a fictional character invented to better embody the awareness and distress of a patient, is treated in Paris, in the infectious disease department headed by Karine Lacombe, at the Saint-Antoine hospital.

Designed with a stiff but vivid line, in the manner of quick sketches, by Fiamma Luzzati, animator of a popular science blog on the website of World, this album is especially valuable for its ability to clearly explain the pathology and its therapeutic approaches. Karine Lacombe, whose calm and clarity have made her one of the rare female faces prized on television sets, tells how the battle against Covid-19 was fought on the medical front but also on the media.

INTERVIEW – Karine Lacombe: “We can’t leave some of us by the side of the road”

Much more successful, At the heart of the wave (Les Arènes BD, 164 p., € 22) is aptly named. Patrick Chappatte, famous Swiss press cartoonist and comic book reporter in his spare time, has designed an excellent album giving voice to eminent specialists and valiant caregivers met during his report.

Affected by a mild form of the coronavirus, the author lived with concern the arrival of the wave of patients, talking with doctors from the HUG (Geneva University Hospitals), in particular the epidemiologist Didier Pittet, co-inventor of the hydroalcoholic gel. All answer the questions that the designer, sometimes in the grip of doubt, submits to them by staging himself, thus emphasizing the subjective nature of his investigation.

Educational and humanist, Patrick Chappatte also goes to meet shadow fighters, those who come to the aid of the most disadvantaged and whom the Covid-19 has hit the hardest. Enamelled with press cartoons with a flexible and precise line published in Swiss, French or German newspapers, At the heart of the wave manages to make people smile and laugh, despite everything …


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