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Many thanks to Jake Richmond (who also drew the Capitalism/Socialism cartoon back in April) for the great job he did with this strip. Jake’s a terrific cartoonist who knows me very well in real life, so he was a natural choice to draw this strip, and I’m very happy with how it came out.
Although it’s always a bit weird to see myself in a comic strip drawn by someone else.
I don’t do much autobiographical cartooning (although I did do this comic strip, “My Life As A Duck,” years ago).
What’s left out of this cartoon is the significant amount of chatting that went on before the conversation touched on Covid. This was someone I met (in the online way) on a board for discussing musicals. (As those of you who know me in real life know – which reminds me, welcome, Paul! Hi! Thank you! – I’m a complete freak for musicals.)
I don’t know what age or (at first) what sex they were, since unlike the comic strip, we were texting rather than video conferencing. We talked about musicals (of course), Stephen Sondheim, food, movies, and other things… A pleasantly meandering conversation. And I’d say, judging from that conversation, that this person seemed well-educated and was certainly smart.
We had been texting for over half an hour before Covid came up. So their belief in some seriously ridiculous conspiracies took me totally by surprise.
It goes to show that even smart people can be unbelievably stupid. And I still find it disturbing. The truth is, logic and facts often have almost nothing to do with what people believe.
The conversation died shortly after that, and I haven’t run into them again.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has five panels. The first four panels are square-shaped, arranged in a two by two grid. The fifth panel is twice as wide as the other four.
Large, friendly lettering at the top of panel 1 says “A TRUE STORY.” Below that, we see someone’s hand pressing a key on a laptop. On the screen of the laptop is some sort of split-screen video conferencing, on which two people – a red headed woman and a dark-haired man with a beard, who is me, Barry – are talking. They both look cheerful.
REDHEAD: Hospitals made up COVID! Becuase they can charge more for COVID than for a flu.
We’ve switched to another room, where Barry is sitting on a chair in front of a desktop computer. On the computer screen we can see Redhead. Barry, smiling, has his hands in front of him in a “let me explain” gesture while he talks.
BARRY: But between nurses, doctors, and hospital administrators, there’d have to be tens of thousands people in the conspiracy!
BARRY: Something that big can’t be kept secret! Hundreds of people would have leaked it by now!
We see Redhead, sitting in front of her open laptop as she responds. She’s holding a cat in her lap with one hand, and with the other she’s holding up a forefinger in a “let me make this telling point” sort of gesture. She’s smiling cheerfully, almost laughing. The backside of the laptop is facing us, so we can’t see the screen, but Barry’s word balloon points to the laptop.
REDHEAD: I read a doctor saying it. So it hasn’t been kept secret.
BARRY: You can always find a few people saying anything! Some people say the moon landing was faked!
A shot of Barry at his computer; Barry looks very taken aback (open mouth, wide eyes). We’re looking at the back of the monitor, so we don’t see Redhead on the monitor, but her word balloon points to the monitor.
REDHEAD: Well, yeah. The moon landing was faked.
A complete change of scene. We are now out in a park, with trees and green grass and wooden picnic tables. Barry and a friend (not the same person as Redhead) are talking. They are both wearing masks; Barry is standing, and about six feet away, his friend is sitting at a picnic table.
Barry’s wearing a different shirt now, so probably at least a day has passed since panel 4.
BARRY: So that’s when I gave up on arguing with people.