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‘The time is out of joint’: temporality, COVID-19 and graphic medicine


This article aims to theorise the human experiences of time during the lockdown (in the first phase of the pandemic) and the COVID-19 pandemic through the verbo-visual exposition of graphic medicine that combines the medium of comics and healthcare. The event of the pandemic has not only bifurcated our perception of time in terms of a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ but also complicated our awareness and experience of time. Put differently, an epochal transformation caused by pandemics has shifted our temporal experience from the calendar/clock time to a queer time situated outside of formal time-related constructions. The pandemic also implies a dismantling and rearranging of the fundamental structures of time within which human beings interacted with the world. Such a discontinuity in the linear trajectory of chronological time engenders an epistemic and ontological reconfiguration of the very sense of time itself. Through a phenomenological close reading of various sequential comics, single panelled images and graphic medical narratives, this article investigates how visual narratives in the form of comics communicate the passage of time. Categorically speaking, pandemic graphic narratives on time draw attention to stagnation, repetition, acceleration, loss of referentiality and the queerness (strangeness) of pandemic time. The article argues that a shift in the perception of time precipitates an altered spatio-temporal awareness that informs postpandemic discourses and power structures.

  • graphic medicine
  • COVID-19
  • comics and medicine

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