Cartoon critics Phil Witte and Rex Hesner look behind the gags to debate what makes a cartoon tick. This week our intrepid critics take a look at social distancing cartoons.
Mid-pandemic, it feels there’s no end to the upending of our lives. Someday, looking back, we’ll marvel at the strange customs we adopted to cope with an invisible calamity. For a social species, the oxymoronic term “social distancing” may summarize the times’ strangeness.
With six-foot-apart spacings indicated everywhere, distance enforcement can get creative. In Chris Wildt’s scene, his purveyor of foot-long frankfurters demarks a Covid-free zone around his domain.
Simple sidewalk interactions now resemble the party game “Twister,” with passersby writhing to avoid one another. Steve McGinn takes it to another dimension by evoking the slow-motion bullet-dodging of Hollywood’s The Matrix.
Creativity doesn’t come to a stop in perilous times. On crowded city sidewalks, Brooke Bourgeois imagines the only way to go is up. At six feet in the air, masks appear to be optional.
Even cherished cartoon clichés are affected; Mort Gerberg’s desert crawlers keep their distance regardless of the predicament.
Some manage to turn social distancing into an advantage. Old flames are now mandated to stay at least half a mile away in Mick Stevens’s scene.
Even the most mundane activities are now fraught for many. A relaxing haircut in a shop full of chatty customers is a relic of the past. Bob Eckstein’s new normal requires one customer at a time for this cautious barber.
With most restaurants eschewing indoor seating, dining al fresco is the new option. As long as the weather holds and beneficent municipalities allow sidewalk tables, some eateries stay in business. Unfortunately, as Jason Chatfield observes, discriminating palates may sour on the great outdoors.
Even the traditional birthday candle blowout is at risk, according to CDC guidelines. The specter of coronavirus-laden aerosols hanging in the air galvanizes the mom in Natalie Dupille’s cartoon to devise a solution. Unfortunately, it’s probably not what the kids had in mind.
Normally our most riotous ritual–the wedding–is now a toned-down affair. Mike Shiell shows how chair spacings and references at test results kill the joy. No doubt the event photographer required a wide-angle lens.
Our final cartoon illustrates that cartoonists’ imaginations do not stop at the real world but continue to the rarified intersections of art and faith. Michelangelo himself may approve of Isabelle Russell’s version of this celebrated Sistine Chapel scene, in which God and Adam maintain a European-flavored distance of two meters.