"Pandemic Special #2 (Reprise)"


Page 1. The World On A String. Volume 4 Number 4. CC BY-SA Ken Alleman 2020. It was at this point in the production of Volume 4 that I took a break in order to draw the poster art and the second social distancing special. I was about to resume work on Volume 4 when the news broke of the killing of George Floyd. The worldwide uprising that followed was an unprecedented response to the unchecked brutality against Black people by the American police. I didn't previously consider social distancing edition #2 to be a part of Volume 4. I've chosen to include it here after all, along with a lightly condensed transcript of the social media post that accompanied its original release. Hopefully, my reasons will become clear in the follwing pages. R.I.P. George, Breonna, and innumerable others who are owed justice and nothing less. Ken.

Page 2. Panel 1. Another very special The World On A String. Social Distancing Edition #2. CC BY-SA Ken Alleman 2020. TheWorldOnAString.KenAlleman.Org. Panel 2. Ken sits at his desk, his face slumped over his arms. He says, "Hey. Me again. So we've been inside for a couple months. Or a couple years. Who can tell anymore." Panel 3. He imagines a person with a guitar leaping for joy through an open door. He says, "I know the seasoned musicians are itching to get back out there and make music again." Panel 4. He imagines a musician playing onstage in front of lots of people. He says, "As our time in lockdown grows, so does the temptation to make rash decisions." Panel 5. He stands up from his desk and says, "Pretending everything is back to normal is a bad idea. Fortunately, we're not out of options."

Page 3. Panel 1. He says, "Let's get a few things out of the way first. Here are some ways not to make music while social distancing." Panel 2. He says, "The No-no list. Live shows. Even if venues are open. Playing live with bandmates over video chat. The high latency makes this pretty much impossible!" We see a diagram of soundwaves alternating between "you" and "them," with each soundwave drifting further and further out of sync. Panel 3. He says, "One thing you can do is record yourself. Compose music using a looper pedal. Get framed up in the ol' phone cam. Record into Audacity or a similar freeware D.A.W. Even if all you have is a laptop and one of these." Image of a short quarter inch to eight inch cable. Panel 4. Ken, surrounded by microphones, says, "Of course, if you already have a nice home recording setup, you're way ahead." Panel 5. Ken says, "And there are ways to make music with your bandmates besides live jamming. Send pieces back and forth. Build on each other. A chnace to re-read The Way of Jamming! [Defunct link.]" Panel 6. He says, "Also, keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to be creative. Previous examples: #JamWithJHS. The "It's Alive" theme song, 100 versions. Currently, there's #TheWorldOnAString Challenge. [Defunct link.]"

Page 4. Ken is slumped at his desk again. He says, "It may be hard to hear, but the only way we're going to lick this thing is if we look out for one another. Right now, that means staying away from each other. This is a kindness we do for our loved ones, the people they love, the people those people love, and so on. We can express that kindness without giving up on making music. Even if we have to come up with unorthodox ways of doing it. Music is one way that we reaffirm our bonds with each other and participate in the world, even when we're stuck at home. Take care of ourselves. It'll take time, but one day we'll be out in the world of jamming and live music once again. Your pal, Ken. 5/27/2020."

Page 5. The following is adapted from a social media post published by me on 6/3/2020. Social Distancing Edition #2 was mostly finished prior to the police killing of George Floyd. Looking at this comic now is like looking into another reality It's not that the topic is outdated. It's very timely. But it feels like it's ignoring a pretty big elephant in the room. I used to be much more engaged. I've allowed my consciousness to become dulled over time. I'm ashamed that this is what it took to reorient me, but I'm going to treat this comic as an important guidepost in the development of my work. I know this is just a puny little webcomic that nobody reads, but it's my main artistic outlet. It's how I express what's important to me. It's a record of my thinking. It's a way for me, with my skill set, to influence other people's thinking for the better. This is getting self-important, so I'll wrap it up. I feel like I owe a debt for everything I've been able to learn as a musician and as a music lover. I'm re-committing to paying that forward. The people I want to benefit the most are the people who haven't had the same advantages as me. Advantages including that I look like most of the other people who play the guitar. For 20 years, I've been easily accepted into ranks that haven't included everybody. Everyone stay safe, take care of each other, and #BlackLivesMatter.

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