TRENDS Diary: Comic Diary Helps Artist Connect With Neighbors

Will Betke-Brunswick works on his COVID neighborhood zine

TRENDS Diary, a project of the Community Foundation of Boulder County, is a place for Boulder County residents of all ages to share personal experiences that relate to a pressing community need. The focus, for now, is on our shared need to connect and solve problems, despite the increased isolation we’re all experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listen To The Audio Diary:

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Dear TRENDS Diary,

I make comics. I was on the city of Boulder’s website, I don’t even remember why, and I saw that there was this fund for artists in Boulder who had work cancelled, COVID Work Projects. I was supposed to be doing three shows this spring: Denver Zine Fest, Denver Small Press Fest and the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. All of those were cancelled or postponed.

I created a comic diary that spanned a month during stay-at-home orders. I made a zine of moments from quarantine in my neighborhood: about my garden, about taking walks — very everyday sort of things, but every day in quarantine, which added an edge of anxiety and uncertainty but also humor.

I mailed them to 20 of my closest neighbors. I didn’t know if I’d ever hear from them. One reached out through my Instagram. Another when I was walking my dog. That was more than I was hoping.

I’m a little bit shy, so I don’t usually talk to my neighbors. The process of making it was like the first step in giving me some confidence as a way to reach out to my neighbors. Otherwise, I don’t know what I would say to them.

I’ve started to say hello a little bit more. The zine sort of gave me a starting point; it helped me connect to them. I’m hoping it connected other people.

My goal for doing this was to share art and bring some humor and lightness and connectedness around something very specific — our neighborhood — and something we all were experiencing. Even if the person reading it is the exact opposite of me in every way, they’re still in this neighborhood. The cover is the street sign of 13th. Every single person has walked past that sign.

– Will Betke-Brunswick, as told to Shay Castle