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Cartoonists draw inspiration from the pandemic’s spiky sphere of influence

Consider the plight of the cartoonist. It’s their job to convey a nuanced and emotive idea in a single glance, with precision and wit. The gig must be daunting. Yet every now and again, the universe throws our ink-stained artists a bone, in the form of a perfect visual shorthand.

There’s no mistaking Tony Abbott’s ears, or the rainbow flag, or the red Make America Great Again cap. Or, it seems, the novel coronavirus. That microscopic image of a bulbous blob studded with a crown (or “corona”) of protein spears is the gift that keeps on giving.

Like a crystal ball of doom, the novel coronavirus is turning out to be quite the motif in cartoon culture.

Like a crystal ball of doom, the novel coronavirus is turning out to be quite the motif in cartoon culture.Credit:Illustrations by David Pope; Peter Broelman; Jim Pavlidis

Boris Johnson fumbling his pandemic response? Draw him bouncing around London like a toddler, on a blow-up ball that resembles the potentially deadly virus. Donald Trump blaming China? Sketch him as a naughty boy, slingshot in pocket, in front of a window with a corona-shaped hole through the glass while pointing at Xi Jinping.

Trump, of course, has been a popular target. For his sluggish response, the US President is drawn as a snail with a corona-like shell. For his arrogance, he’s pictured shooting a virus-shaped basketball at a hoop – no looking! – and missing. For his wilful ignorance, we see Trump standing on the green at his beloved Mar-a-Lago resort, idly striking a corona golf ball with his putter.

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