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Cartoonist observes perfect pairing of pandemic symptoms

Mark Knight, June 3, 2021 6:45PM Kids News

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Part of Mark Knight's cartoon. See the full cartoon below. media_cameraPart of Mark Knight's cartoon. See the full cartoon below.


Reading level: red

We’ve been well informed about the effects of the coronavirus on people. Being a respiratory illness, it can severely limit a person’s ability to breathe and, in turn, lead to pneumonia.

What I’ve found fascinating apart from the medical ramifications*, is the ‘behavioural’ effects that Covid has on people. The repercussions* are profound and occur every time there is a Covid outbreak and the ensuing* lockdown of communities. It is serious and causes people a huge amount of distress.

I’m talking about the panic buying and hoarding of toilet paper.

Whenever we have a Covid cluster and health officials advise people to stay in their homes there is a rush on supermarkets and the panicked mob are after one thing: getting their hands on as many rolls of that 3-ply toilet tissue as they can carry!

I’m not sure what special medicinal* properties toilet paper has but people feel safer when their trolley is fully laden with Wondersoft.

In times of financial crises investors turn to buying gold stocks as a safe haven for their money. Similarly in times of Covid, the preferred stash for your cash is dunny paper. Go figure?

A textbook example of this was the recent lockdown in Victoria. The 4th in this current pandemic. Let’s make it more glamorous and use Roman numerals and call it ‘Lockdown IV’. The Victorian Government announced that due to an infection cluster in Melbourne they would be locking down the whole state for a week from midnight. It set everybody off like the proverbial* starter’s gun.

Half the population raced to the supermarket to stock-up on supplies for the week: ie a truckload of toilet paper. The other half thought it would be a good time to maybe get vaccinated. They queued up for miles outside the Royal Exhibition Building and other vaccination hubs around Melbourne to get the jab. Like hoarding toilet paper, the vaccine was now seen as a way to protect oneself from the ills of the coronavirus.

As I sat thinking of a cartoon for the next day’s paper, I observed the reaction of people to the news, and how they judged what was the best move in this uncertain time. I came up with an image in my mind that was simple, but when I thought of it, it made me laugh. What if people did both actions? What if they bought loads of toilet paper and had the jab as well? The virus would have no chance!

Now I had to draw that concept. Drawing a cartoon is like telling a joke. It’s not so much the joke itself, but how you tell it … or how you draw it. I started with a huge line outside a vaccination centre, with everyone waiting patiently with a huge jumbo pack of toilet tissue under each arm. That said it, but it didn’t focus on a particular person. I wanted to show the intent on the person’s face, the determination to win, the struggle for survival, the human emotion.

So in a second draft I took the drawing inside the vaccination hub, into one of the booths where people receive the jab. Here was where I thought I could show the two-pronged* strategy of getting the jab and hoarding dunny rolls up close. I drew a man sitting on a chair. The expression on his face is intense, his body language hunched, primed to win this contest. His sleeve is rolled up and a health worker is injecting him in the arm with the Covid vaccine.

At that same time his arms are outstretched like the wings of a passenger jet, under which he holds two jumbo packs of 4-ply Wondersoft lavender-scented toilet tissue. He has a look of victory and invincibility* about him. He is winning.

dskjh skjd hfkdsjf hskdf h media_cameraMark Knight’s cartoon. Right click to open in new tab and view full size.

I had achieved my goal of showing how we have been affected by the pandemic and how we as humans are adapting!


  • ramifications: complex and unwelcome results of actions
  • repercussions: an unwelcome result of actions
  • ensuing: what came after
  • medicinal: relating to medicine
  • proverbial: metaphorically, or from an old saying, rather than literally
  • two-pronged: on two fronts, or divided into two
  • invincibility: can’t be beaten


Clever ads no cure for complacency

Jane’s V a little sign for victory for science

Big thrill when coronavirus vaccine arrived

Toilet paper now worth it’s wait in gold


  1. What image did Mark Knight start with?
  2. How does Mark Knight describe what the man is holding?
  3. What is he sitting there for?
  4. What is the person in the next cubicle holding?
  5. What was the cartoonist’s goal?


1. Caption it!
Cartoonist Mark Knight has not used a caption on this cartoon, mostly letting the imagery speak for itself.

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, write a caption for the cartoon or some thought bubbles or quotes from the person or animal in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer 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

Stretch your sentence
Find a ‘who’ in the cartoon. A person or animal.

Write it down.

Add 3 adjectives to describe them better.

Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?

Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.

Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in humanities