The funny papers this Sunday will have more than laughs.
More than 70 comic strips and panels — ranging from Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” to Jeff Keane’s “Family Circus” — will each have six symbols hidden in the artwork to honor workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Look closely and you’ll find a mask for medical workers and caregivers, steering wheel for delivery workers, shopping cart for grocery workers, apple for teachers, fork for food service workers and microscope for medical researchers.
Want some hints? In “Blondie,” the six items appear on Dagwood Bumstead’s computer screen. In “Zits,” they hide in Jeremy Duncan’s messy bedroom.
The initiative was thought up by “Baby Blues” co-cartoonist Rick Kirkman. He consulted his colleagues, who helped shape the idea, and it just kept growing.
“Everytime somebody finds or discovers one of those little symbols in the artwork, to me, I hope that evokes a little bit of gratitude that goes out into the universe,” he said.
The cartoonists involved represent an astonishing array of syndicated and non-syndicated strips, including “Pearls Before Swine,” “Zits” and “Stone Soup.” Because some strips are submitted weeks ahead of publication, many artists had to go back into already approved works to add the symbols or swap in a new strip. Kirkman credits the comic strip syndicates for rallying behind the effort and being flexible.
All of the participating comics, including additional art by web-comic creators and others, will be featured at ComicsKingdom.com and GoComics.com. All the cartoonists offer links to local or national charities in their social media feeds.
Jason Chatfield, president of the National Cartoonist Society, said that while cartoonists have banded together for causes before, nothing of this scale has been attempted.
“There’s nothing quite like sitting down and seeing all the comics together on one page and on a really special day where we’ve all coordinated to do something very special for a really good cause,” he said.
The cartoonists are looking forward to Sunday.
“I’m going to be as pleasantly surprised, I think, as everybody else to see all of this,” said Kirkman.