Project Tells Stories From the Pandemic, In Graphic Novel Style

By David Boraks
November 11, 2020

A group of news outlets in Charlotte is trying out a new way to present the news — in the form of a comic book or graphic novel.

The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative is releasing new chapters every two weeks in a project called “Pandemic” that tells stories about how COVID-19 affects people’s health, work and personal finances. It’s one of the first efforts of its kind in the nation that pairs news reporters with artists.

“The reporters, the publishers, all of our partners started really thinking creatively around how can we tell these stories in a different way?” said Chris Rudisill, the collaborative’s director. “How can we reach new audiences that we’re not typically reaching through, you know, they’re not your typical news reader or news watcher, or listener? How can we reach them and provide this information that’s vital to health and safety?”

The series’ introduction came out two weeks ago, tracing the virus’s arrival and spread in North Carolina in March and the shutdown of schools, businesses and public events.

Chapter 1 is out this week. It tells the story of Cedric Meekins, a teacher who got COVID-19 on a trip to Ohio and wound up on a ventilator before recovering. One panel shows him with an X-ray of his damaged lungs. In another, he’s dropping a pen while trying to write.

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The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems.