3 out of 5
A small, freebie collection of diary minicomics from Ward, covering a few days towards the beginning of COVID lockdowns.
Diary comics, in general, require a level of familiarity: you recognize what the person is going through and drawing for us, and / or you actually know the person. Maybe “require” as an absolute is wrong, but I have a tough time imagining appreciating diary comics without some type of connection to what’s being covered, even if your “connection” is a fascination at the complete opposite way the artist reacts to something from the way you might, or that their experiences are very far removed from yours; either way, there’s a type of self-reflection involved.
With that in mind, these samplings of Ward’s work from 2020 are going to be plus / minus depending on how you prefer to ingest COVID-related media – whether you want something that wallows, or something that brings some light in. Since Ward brings both of those mentalities, it’s hard to feel wholly positive or negative towards the thing. Personally, I don’t need to read about excessive paranoia or depression sans humor, so the comics where you can feel Ward struggling to give a shit don’t work for me. Same to the comics that are just jabbing at the obvious topics of complaint – people’s frightening hoarding behaviors; Trump’s response to the virus. However, when he turns this kind of stuff into more humorous takes, it can be really funny – Ward is willing to get a bit kookier and weirder with his interpretations than other diary comic artists I’ve read, allowing jokes to land from unexpected directions. And because Ward can actually draw – I appreciate that another aspect of diary and mini-comics is a DIY sensibility, but I do like some basic skills – even when his line gets really, really loose and sketchy, he maintains a sense of pacing and focus that makes for an easy read.
Both of these positives – the compositional skill, the humor – are definitely enough to encourage me to check out some of the artist’s other works.