cover image Rescue Party

Rescue Party

Edited by Gabe Fowler. Pantheon, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-0-593-31680-1

When Fowler temporarily closed his Brooklyn comics arts bookstore, Desert Island, in 2020 to wait out the Covid lockdown, he also put out a call: “Who wants to make something?” The result is this varied, hopeful anthology of 140 one-page comics, drawn by artists from around the world and culled from 250-plus submissions first serialized on Instagram. In an introduction, comics scholar Hillary Chute calls it “a lifeboat... profoundly democratic and conspicuously positive.” Those qualities are borne out in three sections divided by theme—“Shipwrecked,” “Lost at Sea,” and “Rescued”—which all ripple with the low-grade panic common to the period, but also convey the hope for a better world. Mike Taylor’s colorfully chaotic entry declares “there should be no going back to normal,” while Brian Gillespie sees a future where “we protect the environment and throw chill parties.” Elsewhere, a grimly conspiratorial comic by Nick Forker imagines a future not “controlled by a small cabal who prey” on the marginalized. The pages are full of eclectic, frenetic drawings, shot through with a yearning for getting to “the other side.” This volume may unlock unwelcome memories, but rather than enshrine a moment in time by forcing it into sensible shape, Fowler embraces 2020’s chaos. It’s a valuable time capsule for comics scholars and a treasure for art comics collectors. Agent: Chad Luibl, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (July)