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A History of Pandemics on the Funny Pages

Comics historian Michael Tisserand takes a look at the current crop of coronavirus comic strips,
with a particular eye on Curtis.

The first widely syndicated newspaper comic to address COVID-19 was Bill Hinds’ “Tank McNamara,” a sports-themed strip that had to contend with the sudden absence of professional sports. “Curtis” followed shortly after. Cartoonist Stephan Pastis often makes himself a character in his smart and acerbic “Pearls Before Swine”; he drew his first coronavirus comics as if he were stranded with nothing but pencil and notepaper, playing off his real-life situation of being out of the country when the United States starting limiting travel. Meanwhile, a heartbreaking series in Darrin Bell’s “Candorville” tackled social isolation by showing full-panel cityscapes from throughout the world. The same thought arises in different languages from each house and apartment: “I am all alone.”

Read Michael’s article at The Daily Beast.


We were waiting for the next installment of Jared Gardner‘s examination of the Spanish Flu in the comic strips of 1918, but since Michael referenced it in the above report, well…

It used to be hard for us to grasp how devastating was the H1N1 pandemic of 1918-20, although as I write these words is becoming easier every day. We live with the flu as one of our annual seasonal viruses, and today we have at our disposal both flu vaccines and antibiotics to manage the secondary complications the flu can leave in its wake. In 1918, neither was available. However, that alone does not account for the fact that this particular strain of influenza killed up to 5% of the world population

Jared Gardner’s first of a series of posts about comics and the Spanish Flu pandemic.

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