September, so often the month of turning—kids back at school, leaves shaking loose—seems different this year. The changes are there, but so is a kind of stasis; people remain mostly indoors, and the coronavirus pandemic is close to claiming its two-hundred-thousandth death in America. In his latest cover, Chris Ware captures the small moments of community that can appease such bleakness. We recently spoke with the artist about the cover, the pandemic, and more.

You’ve titled this “Last Days,” and at some point you considered a slight variation, “Last Days. . . .” What did you want to evoke with the title?

I mean, first of all, it’s September, and the weirdest summer ever is almost over. My original title, “Democratic Party,” I rejected as too ambiguous and unintentionally pejorative. Besides, those of us who remember eighth-grade social studies know that we actually don’t live in a democracy but in a republic, so I could have just as easily titled it that, too. Which I guess would’ve been even worse. The small-letter versions of these words are supposed to represent everything that we constitutionally revere, right? Not spark the flames of conflict or prompt a lock-and-load.

I can’t help feeling that this house is familiar to the artist. Is it inspired by your own home?

I live in the quiet, relatively diverse, and leafy “village” of Oak Park, literally across the street from Chicago, and all summer long I’ve seen neighborhood almost-but-not-quite get-togethers, not unlike what I drew here.

Despite what the Trump Administration would have us believe—especially during this Great Reckoning and its highlighting of our centuries-long epidemic of racism—I think vastly more people still try to get along in America than not. Our cities aren’t exclusively anarchic blast zones, and the suburbs aren’t all xenophobic cloisters. Yet, now, the weather is cooling, and we’re all heading back inside to await the results of what will surely be the most contested election of our lifetimes. The real fear is what may result: not a democracy or a republic but something that somehow stifles both.

See below for more covers by Ware:



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