Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Mark Knight explains why he sent a padded cricketer to buy supermarket goods in his cartoon

Mark Knight, March 19, 2020 4:00PM Herald Sun

Print Article

Part of Mark Knight’s cartoon on the craziness at supermarkets during the coronavirus crisis. media_cameraPart of Mark Knight’s cartoon on the craziness at supermarkets during the coronavirus crisis.


Reading level: green

The coronavirus* has not only spread a harmful pathogen* around the world, it has also infected the public with panic.

If you’ve been into a supermarket lately, you will notice there are empty shelves without products to buy.

It is a shock to see this happening in a rich, westernised* country like Australia.

And it’s all due to panic about Covid-19* and uncertainty about whether the shutdown we are seeing in all forms of daily life will flow on to our food supply.

Supplied Editorial Fwd: media_cameraColes and Woolworths had to give the elderly and disabled a special hour to shop to avoid the large crowds of panic buyers.

We are now being told that Australia has more than enough food for 50 million people — that’s twice our actual population — and that the only reason we are seeing empty shelves is because the supermarkets can’t get items onto the shelves quick enough due to panic buying.

Daily, we are buying certain grocery items at three times the rate of the whole Christmas shopping period!

That’s great if you own a supermarket!

media_cameraEmpty shelves at Coles in Edgecliff, Sydney this week. Picture: Supplied

First the rush was on toilet paper, then it spread to pasta, rice and now pharmaceuticals such as headache tablets and ventolin for asthmatics*. The trend to stockpile* groceries in fear of not being able to buy them despite the reassurances from government reminds me of lemmings* running off a cliff for no apparent reason.

No supply shortages for supermarkets

So the great toilet paper gold rush was rich material for a cartoonist! The other extraordinary issue that emerged was the cancellation of major sporting events.

Sport is the glue that bonds Australian society together and when events like the Australian Grand Prix and international cricket matches are put on hold it has a big effect on the Australian psyche*.

I wondered if I could draw a cartoon that covered both topics?

Mark Knight’s cartoon. Right click to open in new tab and view full size.

Mark Knight cartoon on the craziness at supermarkets during the coronavirus crisis media_cameraMark Knight cartoon on the craziness at supermarkets during the coronavirus crisis

I saw images of people fighting in supermarkets over the last pack of toilet paper. Maybe this was our new sport? Throw a roll of toilet paper into a ring and watch two shoppers fight over it. That was one cartoon idea.

Then I thought about cricket players with all their padding, helmets, groin protectors, gloves. … maybe that’s what we should be wearing when we go shopping! Bingo! I had the idea and now I just had to draw it.

With cartoons, sometimes the sketch comes first and at other times you get the idea first and then you have to try and put it down on paper from the picture in your brain. So I drew a big, hulking bloke covered head to toe in cricket protective gear holding a huge cricket bat in his hands striding* towards his front door.

He looks like he’s about to walk out on to the wicket at the MCG and open the batting for Australia, such is the menacing* determination on his face. In standard comic practice his partner pictured in the cartoon bowls up the question: “I thought all sport was cancelled?

“I’m off to the supermarket to buy toilet paper” is his unflinching* reply.

I think the cartoon goes some way to illustrating the strange times we are living in.


  • coronavirus: any virus that causes a variety of diseases in humans and other animals
  • pathogen: virus
  • westernised: influenced by the cultural, economic, or political systems of Europe and North America.
  • covid-19: a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus
  • asthmatics: people who suffer from asthma
  • stockpile: store
  • lemmings: rodents who move from one place to another on mass
  • psyche: spirit or soul
  • striding: walking
  • menacing: looking dangerous or threatening
  • unflinching: showing no fear


Handwashing: how does soap work?

Mark Knight: toilet paper worth its weight in gold

Mark Knight: Prince Harry and Meghan lose royal touch


  1. What is the pathogen Mark Knight is talking about?
  2. Name two items the rush on products has switched to.
  3. Why did Mark Knight draw a cricketer in his cartoon?
  4. Australia has enough food to feed how many people?
  5. What point is Mark Knight trying to illustrate in this cartoon?

to come

1. Think of another sport
Cartoonist Mark Knight has used a cricketer in protective gear to illustrate the craziness of the rush on supermarket products because of panic over the coronavirus.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, draw a new sportsman in the cartoon that will keep Mark’s meaning the same and still make the purpose of the cartoon clear for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.

Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

  • What is my subject?
  • What do I want to say about this issue?
  • How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists have used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you missed out on any products or food you need because of panic buying?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in arts