Honoring frontline essential workers through comics

An industry-wide initiative spearheaded by the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) will recognize frontline essential workers with comics dedicated to them on Sunday, June 7. Frontline workers have worked tirelessly these last few months, and this is one way cartoonists are thanking them for their courage and bravery.

Comic creators were asked to hide six key symbols in cartoons being published in print newspapers and online. Each key symbol represents a category of essential workers: a mask (medical workers and caregivers), a steering wheel (postal workers and deliverers), a shopping cart (grocery workers), an apple (teachers), a fork (restaurant workers), and a microscope (medical researchers).

In total, more than 70 cartoons are participating in this art project, including 35 from Andrews McMeel Syndication, such as Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau, Lio by Mark Tatulli, Luann by Greg Evans, Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce, The Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn, Wallace the Brave by Will Henry, Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis — and many more!

‘Ginger Meggs’ is one of the many cartoons participating in this celebratory collaboration. Creator Jason Chatfield, president of the NCS, led the initiative along with cartoonist Rick Kirkman.

Readers — both children and adults — will enjoy trying to find the symbols as they read their favorite Sunday comic either in print or online at GoComics.com or ComicsKingdom.com. Some cartoonists also plan to include a website of their charity of choice in their social media posts alongside the art.

Rick Kirkman, co-creator of Baby Blues, initiated the idea to show gratitude to essential workers, and the campaign grew from there with the interest and efforts of the NCS, syndicates and Kirkman’s cartoonist colleagues. They decided on June 7 because it is the weekend that the NCS had planned to hold its annual convention and Reuben Awards in Kansas City, Missouri. The NCS decided to cancel the event this year due to COVID-19. Kirkman told media outlets that he hopes the heartfelt initiative will promote gratitude and prompt readers to give back in their own way.

Read more about this collaborative project honoring frontline workers in at The Associated Press and The Washington Post.