Plagues & Pencils: A Year of Pandemic Sketches, by Edward Carey

If you happen across the little gem, Plagues & Pencils, I highly recommend opening it up and taking a look. Like most people, I don’t really enjoy reliving the early days of Covid, but I do find it fascinating how people spent their time during lockdown.

Edward Carey is an author and artist from England, currently living in Austin, Texas. Shortly after leaving his homeland and hunkering down like the rest of us, he made the commitment to draw one sketch per day for the length of the pandemic. Of course, some of us would argue that the pandemic is still happening, but we’re talking about the days when restrictions were extra strict and we only ventured out when absolutely necessary.

There’s a lot to appreciate about this book. There are the 300+ sketches that hover somewhere between portraits and caricatures. There is the variety: historical figures, people of the arts, birds, animals, and people in the news at the moment. And there is Carey’s commentary: thoughtfully done, always wondering when the daily drawings will end. In his mind, their conclusion represented the resuming of normal life.

I appreciate the time he took on some of my favorite people from history and the arts. The four above are just a small sample. You’ll also see Beethoven, Houdini, Emily Dickinson, and many others. Because Carey is of my generation, you could tell the pang of hurt he felt when Christopher Plummer passed away. He honored him with a sketch from his iconic role as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music.

Overall, just an interesting, delightful discovery.

9/10 Stars

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