Community Matters: Please Be Kind. (A COVID-19 Response Comic)
This is a PDF file of a two-page comic co-designed for mainly digital delivery. It was developed between March and May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comic is the result of autoethnographic, participatory narrative co-design methods. It was written and illustrated by Francisco de la Mora, based on conversations with Hugh Buddy, and edited by Ernesto Priego, lead of "Parables of Care" project (Grennan, Priego, Sperandio and Wilkins 2017; Priego, Wilkins, Martins, and Grennan, 2020; Wilkins and Priego 2020).
Following up on previous work on dementia care, this comic was developed within the framework of the Parable of Care series, in collaboration with Symbola Comics.
A motivation was the April 2020 creative brief from the United Nations, particularly addressing the “Key Messages”, including "physical distancing" and “kindness contagion” (United Nations 2020). This comic in particular focuses on an individual's experience of social distancing measures in the context of visual impairment in the UK.
In co-designing this comic with a visually impaired co-designer and co-author the team recognised it was working "with asymmetry", rather than attempting symmetry (Bennett and Rosner 2019). As a comic, it is idiosyncratic and subjective; it is based on the individual experiences of a blind person, and it does not intend to represent everyone's experiences nor to make any generalisations. Principles of biographical and documentary comics and autofiction were followed (El Refaie, 2010). Ethical guidelines were followed and written co-design and co-authorship consent was signed by the three co-authors.
It must be noted that as a visual medium, comics present significant accessibility challenges for those with reading and/or visual disabilities or neurodiversity. Accessibility is an essential requirement for us in design work and it would be possible, if circumstances allow, to produce a detailed descriptive alt-text and a/or version of the comic in a PDF with machine-readable text so it can be read-aloud.
[Update: a provisional alt-text is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qcOhEZIGMEubCckS8eN-bLaHzDJBCt5vUX9saCPCOCw/edit?usp=sharing. With thanks to Angelica Curzi).
The comic is shared as a preliminary research output which is one component in ongoing research; more formal outputs contextualising this work are in progress at the time of depositing this file, which is shared here in the spirit of open science and scholarship.