I Live In Washington State

SEATTLE — Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities statewide — such as gyms and movie theaters — due to the coronavirus. Restaurants will be take-out and delivery only.

 

The order will last until March 31.

Via Kiro 7 News

This is the headline as of last night.

I live about 40 minutes north of Seattle, along the I-5 corridor. Anyone who isn’t living at the bottom of a bog has watched the COVID hysteria unfold. That’s not what I want to write about today. I want to write about people.

Last night, restaurants and bars, my gym, just a 5-minute walk away, was ordered to shut their doors. This is a huge hit to the economy, that is obvious. But what is the government going to do to mitigate the damage?

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to the same place they were during the Great Recession (2007-2009), in order to boost the economy. But does this help the bartender who is suddenly out of work for the next two weeks?

The average cost of an apartment in Seattle is just over $2,100 with an annual increase of 4% each year, according to Rentcafe.com. What do the bartenders and servers, the chefs, line cooks, and dishwashers Washington now do? What do the people who work at recreational facilities do? Single parents with mouths to feed who work wherever they can? Students with loans, who still work part-time to make the rent?

Depriving people of this income is a difficult decision to make. It sounds like it was one that needed to be made and the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, is probably right to do it–but in addressing one problem, he created another.

How will any of these people make rent? Pay for utilities? Childcare? Suddenly a full paycheck will be gone from their income.

This brings me to the problem that Inslee has created–yet not addressed: If a large percentage of people are having their income halfed for at least a month, and perhaps suspended indefinitely if things get worse, then should landlords and property management companies be entitled to collect their fees? Now, I know people who work for management companies, utility companies, and those who live off the rent paid them needs enough money to live on as well–but how many people will no longer be able to pay up?

I believe this emergency is an immediate argument for a UBI. It wouldn’t fix everything, but it would take a huge burden off everyday Americans. Everyone should be hitting up Andrew Yang right now to figure out how this could be implemented within months. A VAT (Value Added Tax) on 500 of the biggest most profitable companies would likely go a long way toward this. Sure, it might hurt some profit margins for huge corporations like Amazon–but so too will the fact that a huge portion of the population has not money to buy anything with. Do we let these people get evicted? Do we let them go without power, water, heat?

I can’t understand the consequences of what is happening right now–and neither can anyone else. I wonder when we’ll come out of this. One thing’s for sure, though–it will be a far different world than the one we left behind when we locked outdoors.

Comic Review: Decorum #1

Decorum #1

Image Comics

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Art: Mike Huddleston

 

I don’t know what’s going on in this first issue, but that doesn’t keep me from loving it. Decorum is a unique mix of exposition via biotech adds and graphic narratives similar to your normal comic book. However, there’s just a lot going on in this issue that sets it apart from other comics on the market.

Decorum #1

The story is disjointed. It flits about, first with exposition–an info dump that explains the basic premise then shifts to a narrative in which indigenous peoples are being conquered by strange aliens. Motives are unclear, as is the world that these factions operate in. The majority of the story focuses on a courier. A woman tasked with taking packages to and from places. It’s a strange construct in a piece that is as much science fiction as it is fantastical since there would be drones to make those necessary deliveries. But overlook this plothole and the issue has everything you could want. Suspense, intriguing characters, and an immersive world.

Read my full review on Sequential Planet.

A Look Abroad: An Interview with Danish Comic Creator, Halfdan Pisket

I wrote this for Sequential Planet. It’s a piece of an interview I conducted with Halfdan Pisket last summer while in Denmark. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Here at Sequential Planet, we focus on the newest and biggest comic book releases the market has on offer. But what about the comics you don’t hear about? That was my mission while in Copenhagen, Denmark, last summer.

This idea didn’t occur to me until I was on the streets of Copenhagen, in the heart of the city, the Indre By district, just a block or so from Ørsteds Park. That’s when I saw a comic book shop. Comics. Danish Comics. What would I find on those shelves? Inside the shop, Fantask, were the standard releases. Marvel, DC, etc. There wasn’t anything uniquely Danish that I could see on the main shelves. That being said, the variety was impressive for such a small shop. Not only did they have comics, but a healthy display of fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as a manga section, and D&D/Pathfinder corner. A well-curated shop, to be sure–but almost everything was in English. I approach the woman behind the register, tentatively.

“Hi,” I say. “I’m visiting and love comics and would love a Danish comic as a souvenir, do you have any suggestions?”

She did. She guides me to a small section of Danish graphic novels and floppies. “But you don’t speak Danish, do you?” she asks me. I do not, I tell her. “This one,” she picks up a wide thin book, “this one has no words in it, but it is beautiful and he is local. This shop is even in the book.” I take it and flip through it. It is beautiful. It’s not a comic, but it’s not just a picture book either. It’s inks and watercolor and each couple of pages is its own story. The artist’s name is on the back. Adam O.

“He’s local?” I ask the woman. She tells me he is.

That night, I look up Adam O. and his book Kakofonia on Google. I find his email and ask him, politely, for an interview. I explain I’m trying to find the pulse of the Danish comics scene. Within the hour he emails me back. He doesn’t live in Denmark, but in Sweden, and he doesn’t make comics much anymore–though he knows someone I should talk to. Halfdan Pisket. He tells me this is the man I should see. This is the most famous Danish cartoonist/comic creator. He includes Halfdan’s email. I am thankful.

Halfdan Pisket’s graphic novel trilogy is not translated into English yet. It presents me with a difficult task. How do I interview someone about their writing and story when I can’t read it? But also, this is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to hear about what I didn’t already know about. Isn’t this perfect?

On the morning we meet, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, it’s mid-August–the people of Copenhagen are beautiful. Halfdan lives a mere 10-minute bike ride from where I’m staying and he comes down to let me into his building. His apartment is nice and modest and clearly an artist lives here. He has some bookshelves lined with comics and graphic novels. Some are ones I recognize. Elf Quest, Black Hole, but there are others I don’t know. He pours me a cup of coffee and we sit on his balcony overlooking the street. Every once in awhile a car drives by, but there is little traffic here. Most people ride bicycles.

When I tell him my idea, this concept of bringing the Danish Comic scene back with me, in a way, to the United States, he cracks a half-smile on his thin, lightly stubbled face.

“But it is funny,” he says, “because I grew up reading translated American comics. And when you are a kid, it’s superhero comics, it was X-Men and Spawn and later I read Frank Miller’s Dark Knight and after that, I thought, I could read more of something like this. . . It wasn’t until I started making comics, myself, in Danish, that I realized there were other people doing it. That was when I started reading Danish Comics.”

Before I go any further, I should note the profound impact Pisket’s work has had in the realm of Danish Literature, but also on a continental stage. Dansker (Translated Dane, in Danish), won the Politics Literature Prize in 2016, the Ping Prize in 2017, and in 2019, just before I met with him, the Dansker trilogy won Best Series at the third-largest comic book festival in the world, the French Angouleme Festival. Back in 2015, Pisket was also awarded the largest art grant in Denmark worth 850,000 Danish Krone (around 130,000 USD), the first graphic novelist ever to be awarded the grant.

Read the full feature at Sequentialplanet.com