cover image Going Remote: A Teacher’s Journey

Going Remote: A Teacher’s Journey

Adam Bessie and Peter Glanting. Seven Stories and Censored Press, $18.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-644-21270-7

Bessie’s debut graphic memoir of teaching at a community college during the pandemic while undergoing treatment for cancer swells with a determined optimism even while being threaded with dystopian references. Bessie believes in the community college system as a hub of diversity crucial to class mobility. In January 2020, he steps onto his San Francisco Bay Area campus after an eight-month sabbatical; he’s been working on a memoir about his decade-long game of cat and mouse with a brain tumor. He embraces the institution’s smells of “strawberry vape,” buzzy with student’s collective energy. But by March, “We are subjects in ‘The Great Zoom-School Experiment.’ ” He plays amateur IT guy and social worker, and teaches to “little black boxes” with muted mics. His students, many of them already marginalized, drop out or face a litany of crises. Bessie’s suspicious of techie solutions—“Free-market technocrats see this as an opportunity to accelerate their agenda to monetize public education”—and draws parallels to the science fiction literature on his syllabus. Glanting’s drawings are thick with shadow and cyborgian representations of a world isolated by multiple diseases. But as a teacher, Bessie’s idealism holds through, and he ends on an open-ended note—the pandemic still unfurling, his tumor held at bay by an experimental medication. As he writes: “Right now, we’re here,” and that is fragile and poignant enough. (Mar.)