Covid Comics

Covid Comics

Richard Stelmach

I am a UX/ UI/ digital designer, illustrator, and amateur photographer from Pontefract. At the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, I began to draw comic strips to keep busy and maintain positive mental health throughout the stressors of Covid-19 and Lock Down, as a means of escapism and expression. I make a lot of art as a hobby anyway, particularly watercolour paintings and watercolour comic strips.

Some of the early comics were often around a character I created called "Tommy the toilet roll". This was of course inspired by the horrendous scenes we saw in supermarkets of people hoarding toilet roll. I started the comics as a natural reaction, to deal with the stress of the pandemic but then had the idea to set myself a 50-day challenge to raise money for Comic Relief. I set a goal to raise £250 and had to start on the 25th April and publish a comic daily. To raise the donations, a JustGiving page was set up and I received so much support that we hit his £250 before the 50 days! Before the challenge, I had also done a few around "Easter Bunny in Lockdown" which people seemed to enjoy. I thought that I could raise money for Comic Relief by setting myself a significant challenge but also bring a bit of joy to people.

The comics are a form of self-expression. Although in almost all of them, I try to make them entertaining, they do touch on more serious subjects as a reaction to scenes seen in the news during the pandemic or my own feelings and experiences. Such as the below, inspired by terrible scenes of people being unable to maintain social distancing in certain situations.

The comics were becoming more and more inspired my daily news, politics, and events; seeing people breach lockdown by flocking to crowded beaches or littering as lockdown eased were upsetting which was again expressed in the comics.

Most of the comics feature animals. Animals and nature being two of my favourite things and in some of the comics I wanted to raise awareness of environmental issues. As we've seen in the pandemic, in many ways, nature has benefited, and I hope that as we come out of the pandemic, people have an increased care for nature and awareness of climate change.

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