Comics in the Time of Coronavirus

If you’re a genre geek like me, the past couple weeks have likely called to mind the opening chapters of Stephen King’s The Stand or the closing credits of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, watching a contagion fan out and flare up around the globe. With the cancellations of conventions, closing of publishers’ offices, and postponement or halted production of movies like New Mutants and Shang-Chi, it’s clear the comics industry isn’t immune to the effects of COVID-19 novel coronavirus. As we all stock up on antibacterial hand sanitizer, some thoughts on how to prepare for and survive the coming outbreak:

Make Social Distancing and Self-Quarantine Productive

Jokes have been made about how cartoonists and comic geeks are well-prepared for a long stint as introverted shut-ins, but there’s likely a kernel of truth to that punchline. As the empty grocery shelves can attest, people are preparing for a long duration of isolation, either as they recover from the illness or out of an abundance of caution. While it may be tempting to use this time to work through your Netflix queue or build forts out of your stockpiled rolls of toilet paper, it’s a good opportunity to embrace your inner cartoonist (and the kernel of truth in that joke). 


If your schedule suddenly opens up as everything around you closes down, take the time to plot, script, or draw your comic. Even if you spend some time burning through your streaming backlog, keep a sketchbook or notebook handy to explore ideas and keep your creative juices flowing. In addition to making the most of a quarantine, it’ll give you a distraction from the worry of the outbreak, as art and creativity can help with stress and anxiety.

Support Your Local Comic Retailer

It’s understood that everyone’s wallets are preparing for a potential hit, especially if your income depends on a job you can’t do from home. Keep in mind that your local comics retailer holds such a job. so before you’re homebound, pay them a visit (assuming you’re not unwell) and support them if you can to help them weather the storm.

  • Pick up your subscription. Not only will it help give your retailer some funds to help them survive the coming weeks as business dips, but it’ll give you some reading material to help bide the time.
  • Stock up on bags and boards. Another way to spend the time would be to go through your long boxes and make sure your collection is protected and in good shape. (It’s also always a good excuse to revisit old faves and creative influences!)

Take Care of Yourself

Of course, the most important thing is to take the virus seriously, but don’t stress. Worry can weaken your immunity system, which is counterproductive during a contagion event. Pay attention to your mental and physical health! Step away from the drawing board or couch to get some exercise around the house, and get out into the sunshine every once in a while (just avoid large crowds or those at higher risk of the virus). Stay well, and we’ll get through this all together!

Steve Stegelin

Editor, Artist, Letterer, Colorist Steve is the long-running cartoonist at the Charleston, SC alt-weekly Charleston City Paper, where he skewers politicians and criminals (and criminal politicians) alike with editorial cartoons and police blotter illustrations every issue. Steve was best known his indie comic book (and subsequent webcomic)  BOONDOGGLE