Comic Strips during a Pandemic: Then and Now

As regular New York Times readers, we’ve lost touch with the world of daily comics (the Times has never bothered with them), but we wondered recently how our cartoon friends have been dealing with the worldwide pandemic catastrophe. So we took a look, today, at a few old favorites.

A couple of strips this morning address the catastrophe head-on: in “Non Sequitur,” an elderly woman tells her husband that “doing social distancing since 1992 just makes you a curmudgeon, not a visionary,” and a comic called “In the Bleachers” finds a man about to sneeze, while the smiling leader of team of viruses in his throat shouts, “On your mark … get set…”

But for the most part, our comic strip neighbors are, today, blissfully unaware of the catastrophe here in our reality. In Gasoline Alley, the gang is on their way to a farm collective meeting for food and live music; Garfield wants to sleep late; Blondie and Dagwood go out for dinner, because Blondie doesn’t want to cook; Dilbert is in the office as usual; and Beetle Bailey has a date with Miss Buxley to take an evening walk in the park.

That’s our cue to visit, again, the world of 1918, when the Spanish Flu pandemic raged, but Krazy Kat and Ignatz carried on as though nothing were wrong at all. Here is a strip first published on the very final day of that terrible year.

Title design from an original image by Anastasiia Chepinska / Unsplash.